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.

Nov 23 14 001 small

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.

highres_431810777 small

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

Nov 23 14 004 small

We started out on mostly road…

Nov 23 14 005 small

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.

Nov 23 14 008 small

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.

Nov 23 14 009 small

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.

highres_431793347 small

There weren’t many trees along the way…

Nov 23 14 011 small

But there were a few.

Nov 23 14 015 small

Some more alive than others.

Nov 23 14 018 small

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

Nov 23 14 022 small

Facing north as we climb through the brush.

Nov 23 14 026 small

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.

Nov 23 14 027 small

Lots of boulders and rocky terrain.

Nov 23 14 031 small

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

highres_431811189 small

And more east…

Nov 23 14 036 small

Facing north…

Nov 23 14 037 small

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.

Nov 23 14 038 small

Wish I could tell you what direction this was…

Nov 23 14 043 small

Still heading upwards…

Nov 23 14 045 small

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

Nov 23 14 047 small

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

Nov 23 14 049 small

It is rather a large area to wander…

Nov 23 14 055 small

But quite beautiful…peaceful…

Nov 23 14 059 small

Duck? Or cairn? Hard to say.

Nov 23 14 060 small

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

Nov 23 14 062 small

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

Nov 23 14 064 small

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.

Nov 23 14 066 small

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

Nov 23 14 069 small

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…

Nov 23 14 070 small

The view to the southeast, quite impressive.

Nov 23 14 073 small

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

Nov 23 14 075 small

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

highres_431793402 small

To find this plaque on the West Peak…

Nov 23 14 076 small

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

Nov 23 14 077 small

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.

highres_431798442 small

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.

2 Responses to Hiking Morena Butte

  1. Sheila says:

    Excellent photos! What a beautiful day… 😊


  2. Rebecca says:

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


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: