Hiking Morena Butte

Last Saturday (like 4 days ago), I hiked Morena Butte, which overlooks Lake Morena in San Diego County’s eastern mountains. The hike starts at the Lake Morena campground in a PCT parking lot. We hiked a bit through the campground…you can see the butte rising up in the distance.

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The weather was nice, although it felt a bit too warm at times, bordering on the mid-70s (when you’re climbing, that’s warm), but mostly in the high 60s.

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Ranchers like to use their own locks…and lots of them…

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We started out on mostly road…

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Lake Morena is suffering from the drought and has had water drained to fill reservoirs closer to San Diego for resident use, taking the lake down to 4% of what it normally has.

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The lake is actually a manmade reservoir, but local residents are not thrilled about the hit to recreation in the area. The boat ramp seems mostly stranded and most of what was lake is now dry.

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Here we are further up, still with the butte in the background. Of course, I need to look that word up. BUTTE. An isolated hill with steep sides and a relatively flat top, smaller than a mesa. I wonder what measurements they are using. In this photo, we are standing on the concrete foundation of a house, of which only a chimney and steps remain.

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There weren’t many trees along the way…

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But there were a few.

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Some more alive than others.

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This is the view as we start to climb up towards the butte, facing south, with Mexico in the far distance.

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Facing north as we climb through the brush.

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The clouds were beautiful. Although it was just a bit breezy at first, as the day went on, we got some significant wind up top on the butte. Hence the pretty cloud trails.

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Lots of boulders and rocky terrain.

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Yup. I’m hot and sweaty. Sign of a good hike. Hell, I’m always hot and sweaty. This is facing east…

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And more east…

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Facing north…

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Ah yes, most of the trail was marked by cairns. Or ducks. Depending on your point of view. This is definitely a cairn. Ducks point the way to the trail. Cairns are just markers. There were lots of them, except when there weren’t, which was when you really needed them. When you’re traipsing across a butte that is mostly stone, the trail gets a bit…um…unknowable.

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Wish I could tell you what direction this was…

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Still heading upwards…

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Finally, we hit the butte. You can see it is mostly rock…

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And you try to find the way where your boots will actually stick and not slip.

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It is rather a large area to wander…

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But quite beautiful…peaceful…

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Duck? Or cairn? Hard to say.

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Parts of the butte are definitely ice- and water-worn…

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And the rock shapes on top are definitely signs that weather has an effect on rock.

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On one of the “tops” (there are apparently three), there are these rocky people. The female is a little discombobulated, but the male is rather obvious.

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Not a cairn…that is wind and water that has worn that shape in the rocks, which are all still attached to each other.

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We picnicked at the top, with a view of what’s left of the lake…which used to fill in most of that brown area…

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The view to the southeast, quite impressive.

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You can see us all sitting out on the edge, looking east.

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Then we traipsed all around, looking for a trail to one of the other peaks on the butte…

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To find this plaque on the West Peak…

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This is the view from the rock with that plaque, Hauser Canyon going west.

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We picked up part of the PCT going back, ending up with 9 miles logged. A stop at Descanso Junction for a late lunch was definitely worth it.

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I don’t usually have time for those stops (it ends up being the whole day), but I did because it was the first day of vacation. Good food (awesome burger and draft beer). Yeah, there’s a guy who doesn’t want people to recognize him. Hence the black mask. Whatever. Good times…I want to do this one again. The butte is really kind of a wondrous place, very moonlike, otherworldly. Vernal pools in the rainy season (we had a bit of that, because it had rained on Thursday). Gorgeous views. Definitely worth the time.

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2 Responses to Hiking Morena Butte

  1. Sheila says:

    Excellent photos! What a beautiful day… 😊

    Like

  2. Rebecca says:

    Pretty cool! And quite a hike. I like the textures and standing rocks at the top. Nice plaque.

    Like

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