Full Moon Hike Up Cowles Mountain

 by So Diego Tours

The biggest full moon of 2012 took place on May 5th. (The full moon coincided with the moon’s closest approach to earth: You can read about it Here) so a group of friends and I decided to take a night hike up Cowles Mountain, which is part of the Mission Trails Regional Park. The mountain is within the city limites of San Diego and 1,593 feet high, making it the highest point in SD. The mountain was named after an early ranching pioneer, Geoge A. Cowles. (Officially pronounced “Coals”) It was many people’s first time to make the hike–including mine and my faithful dog’s–Sampson.

I equipped Sampson with a red blinking light so that I could find him if I let him off leash, but none of us thought to actually bring a flashlight, based on our expectation of the brightness of the moon. This actually would have been a perfectly reasonable plan, but we walked up the mountain around dusk when the moon had not quite risen high enough to be lighting our path as well as we would have liked. I ended up putting Sampson’s light on the solid red setting and letting him lead us up the path. We took to calling him Rudolph, much to the amusement of passing hikers on their way down.

We made it up in less than an hour, with only a few minor stumbles and everyone managing to stay on their feet, despite some hikers sliding down slippery parts in front of us. We met up with our friends who had started out earlier in the evening and enjoyed a little picnic and the contents of our nalgenes (water only of course!) on the top. For awhile it felt like a party on the top of the mountain as there were probably close to 50 people hanging around the summit when we made it up. It was a little disconcerting to me to be on top of a mountain but not feel like I was in the wilderness at all with city lights surrounding us and the chatter of people everywhere. There were fireworks in the distance that looked like they were coming from Mexico and even a man hiking with his six-week old baby!

Not exactly a professional photo from my Iphone, but I promise it was a pretty moon!

Eventually things quieted down, but we also started to cool off so we made our way down. On the way we passed a group of people covered in glow sticks that looked like alien beings having a gathering. The moon was beautiful despite the city lights and by the time we headed down, the brightness of the moon was plenty to light our way and we scampered down the mountain while throwing sticks for Sampson. It was 11:30 by the time we made it back, but a few of us went out for a margarita in honor of it being Cinco De Mayo. Everyone had a great time, and I’ll definitely have to try the hike again, maybe this time in the daylight!

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