June 26, 2011 - My first view of Lake Hodges was looking down upon it from Olivenhain Reservoir back when Wilson and I hiked the Elfen Forest Trail (#52) on March 13th.
From the picture you can see why we'd want to come back, right?
Lake Hodges is fairly large and spread out, but on this day, accompanied by my lovely wife, we chose only to hike the 4 mile Piedras Pintadas trail that skirts the southeast portion of the lake.
We hit the trail early at 6:40 a.m. after the nearly 40 minute drive to get there from our home. The early start was a great idea because by the time we completed the trail a couple hours later it was downright toasty!
The first part of the path took us past these beautiful fields.
Wilson commented that looking back he could see the heights of the Elfen Forest from where we first spied the lake.
Word has it, according to my honorable trail guide, Jerry Schad, that there are still large hillside rocks out in this region donned with pictographs portraying Kumeyaay rituals. Understandably, these are protected and therefore not accessible.
Meanwhile, back on the trail, Wilson started questioning if we were ever going to see the lake at all from down here.
Fortunately, he was soon distracted by this tree chock full of little tweety-birds. At times Wilson's short attention span can actually be a plus!
Next thing we knew we caught our first view of the lake!
So, we kept walking, and...
...found this cool little bridge, and...
...spied these interesting wild flowers.
We really were not expecting that which we saw next. There is likely not a single person in San Diego who is not aware of the sad and cruel story of Chelsea King who lost her life on this trail at the hands of a demented, selfish and unworthy monster of a human being.
Chelsea's light shined in and around us on this fine June morning with these wonderful snowy egrets standing as if our sentinels keeping watch for us.
This part of the lake was downright teaming with all sorts of birds, so much so that I failed to take advantage of some serious photo ops while I simply stood there, looking dumb, as amazing birds flew past us.
In fact, a VERY "great" Great Blue Heron (it was huge) rose up out of the nearby greenery and flapped his wings looking like a creature out of "The Land Before Time." He was so close to us I felt as though I could reach out and give him a feathery "high-five!"
Marching onward we found a lone Coast Live Oak standing singularly along the trail looking somewhat regal.
If you look very closely here you should be able to see "The" waterfall. To tell the truth, had we not heard the happy sounds of water slapping along the rocks, we might well have walked right past this pint-sized Niagra!
We continued trekking westward along the south side of Lake Hodges.
Then the trail grew wide and turned directly to the north, which, as we learned, was the beginning of a loop portion of the path.
As we approached the lake, the trail turned east...
...and then north and upward.
From here we took in some peachy vistas of the lake.
The loop soon brought us back...
...to the trail from whence we came. The return hike was pleasant, yet it was obvious that someone had cranked up the thermostat!
It didn't seem to bother this lizard who appeared to be out working on his tan.
Another Splendid Hike!