Friday, March 14, 2014

Kwaay Paay Peak and Fortuna Mountain

Hiked: 3/14/2014
Distance: 7 miles round trip on trail
Summit Elevation: 1194' (Kwaay Paay), 1291' (Fortuna)
Prominence: 434' (Kwaay Paay), 411' (Fortuna)
Elevation Gain: 1983'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.58
Round trip time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Recommended water: 72 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free at Mission Gorge Road
Difficulty: Moderate (combined)

After finishing Cowles and Pyles Peak, I made the 5 minute drive to the other side of Mission Trails Regional Park for the other two peaks. When I first saw the name Kwaay Paay, I thought it might be Hawaiian, but it is derived from a local Indian tribe. From the Kwaay Paay trailhead, it is a straight shot up the ridge to the indistinct summit. Near the top of the first hill, I spotted my first rattlesnake of the year. It was about 3' long, not quite an adult, but a nice healthy snake. I fumbled my phone trying to get a picture before it crossed the trail, but it was already in the bushes before I could get a photo. I walked toward the bush and it gave me one rattle before disappearing. It is almost a 900' grind up to the summit. There is a summit-like clearing near the top, but the high point seemed to be left of the trail and across the wooden fence. I wandered over to the actual summit, but found no benchmark or register at either location. I finished off my food for the day and started down. Before reaching the bottom, I swerved left toward the visitors center and the trail to Fortuna. I had to give up every bit of gain.

Kwaay Paay trailhead

First view of Kwaay Paay, just past the rattlesnake encounter

Kwaay Paay summit-like area, true summit behind off trail, Fortuna mountain dead ahead

The trail to Fortuna (higher north summit) starts by going around the Mission Dam. Then it follows Oak Canyon, a very relaxing trail that should have had multiple stream crossings, except there was very little water in the stream. It was not flowing except at the very start, and only a few pools remained from the winter drought. After you exit the canyon, the work starts as you ascend to Fortuna saddle, then turn right up to the higher north summit. A pole marks the Fortuna summit. I finished the last of my gatorade and only had an 8 oz bottle of water to get me back to the car. That wasn't a problem since it was less than 3 miles. I searched for a register, but ended up 0-4 on the day. These last two peaks only had a few other hikers on them, clearly not as popular as Cowles. The combined 4 peaks on the day gave me 12.9 miles and 3693' of gain. Not bad for fast food peaks.

Mission Dam at the start of the Fortuna trail

Bridge over the stream

Final segment from the saddle to North Fortuna summit

Fortuna mountain summit

Kwaay Paay, Pyles Peak, and Cowles in the distance

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