Hiking Iron Mountain for the Full Moon

Last week there was a full moon and a huge hike planned for Iron Mountain, which is just north of here. The last time I hiked Iron Mountain was more than 10 years ago, also at night, so I thought it would be good to try it again…a further test of the knee as well. The hike was cross-posted with three groups, so about 70 people were supposed to be going up together, and that doesn’t count all the people who do this on a regular basis. There’s a huge parking lot at the bottom of the mountain because lots of people do this hike, especially after work or on the weekends…in fact, this is what we started with…

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with Iron Mountain rising up on the right side. Wait a minute. That’s where I’m going? We had dogs and kids and lots of food…potluck at the top.

The hike started at about 6:30 PM, so it was still warm, in the 80s. That’s the hard part about hiking in San Diego in the summer…it’s hot. Night hikes really are the only way to go, unless you start at 6 in the morning. I’m not a fan of 6 in the morning.

With so many people on the hike, my goal was to get out in front and not have to follow anyone who was walking too slowly. I’m not the fastest hiker in the world, but this group was slow-moving.

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This isn’t a horribly hard hike. It’s about 5.8 miles round trip, with some steep bits. It is a mountain, you know. You will have to climb it.

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But as the sun went down, it started to cool off and it was like a good sweaty workout at the gym.

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In nature…

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The views of San Diego from this hike are great…you can see why we have so many hiking trails…there are so many hills to climb.

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The sun was only in my eyes for a short part of this hike, unlike the Cowles Mountain hike a week or so ago, where you were squinting for a good portion of the trail.

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However hard you might think the trail is yourself, there’s a mom and three kids all beating me up the mountain. I was OK with that.

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Another view on the way up. The evening before had been cloudy and I wondered if it would even be worth going…but it cleared up beautifully.

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At the top, you can get 360 degrees of views of the county…to the west and the ocean…

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As we were up there, the sun started to set…

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And we set food out, as you do…everyone pulling this or that from their packs, from olives to homemade salsa to wine to chips to avocados and crackers.

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There were two tables set up like this…rumor is there’s a third table up there, but I never saw it (I am actually in that picture).

This is the view to the south…

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More to the southwest…

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And the southeast…

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We got up there in about 55 minutes (I slowed down my hiking partner, who usually does it in 48 minutes…sigh). Then we watched the sun set, talked, ate, and drank.

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It was gorgeous.

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Vast expanses of pretty-colored sky. Someone asked me (because I’m a science teacher) why the colors, and I was able to tell them…because I teach that.

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Then we moved over to the other side of the mountain for the real reason we were there (well, the REAL reason is exercise, right?), moonrise in the east.

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The moon was really big. I realize it doesn’t look like that in these photos, but what can I say?

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Maybe it was just big in my head. It was a beautiful and peaceful experience watching it rise.

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I kept my eyes open for animals on this hike…I had heard the scorpions would glow in the dark and someone was carrying a black light. I never saw them myself, but stole this picture from someone who did…

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They’re not very big, but they look pissed off. Reason why you should wear real shoes up there (one guy was hiking in flipflops with no water).

We headed down around 8:30 or so…and for part of the downhill, didn’t use anything but the light of the moon (my depth perception can’t do that on rocks, but flat surfaces are fine). The actual hiking was about an hour and 40 minutes…plus an hour or so at the top. It was very cool…and a good hiking temperature for most of it. Not so cold that you needed a jacket (though some had them), but not so hot that you were dying. Definitely worth doing again.

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