Distance: 7.4 miles round trip on dirt road and trail
Summit Elevation: 2897'
Elevation Gain: 2059'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.64
Round trip time: Untimed
Recommended water: 64 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free at Lake Poway ($5 from April-October on weekends/holidays)
Anand was interested in tackling a hike with Rod and I, so I offered up a few moderate hikes I'd done before that would reward him with nice views and a sense of having climbed a mountain. Something neither too easy nor too hard. Of that list, he picked Woodson Mountain since it was on a well defined trail and didn't require any climbing (not counting the summit block). It gave me the chance to atone for missing the summit block on my first visit, pointed out to me by Adam Walker when he found the class 3 block and benchmark. My beta at the time was lacking and like most first time visitors, I was more interested in Potato Chip Rock. I didn't bother timing this trip or breaking out the GPS. We would be moving at whatever pace was comfortable for the group. We started when Lake Poway opened near the snack shop. The early start was to avoid heat, snakes, and crowds. That strategy worked for the heat and snakes, but not the crowds. There were dozens of hikers ready to go early in the morning and a steady stream followed. I can't remember a busier trail, including the always crowded Cowles Mountain. Low clouds covered everything at the start and blanketed us up to around 2000'. Above that, we had picturesque views all around. This was Anand's first hike with significant gain and he took rest breaks as needed on the way up. Rod and I took those opportunities to do some bouldering, with many fine climbs next to or just off the trail.
When we got to Potato Chip Rock, there was a line and we queued up for photo ops. We really wanted to get Anand up there, but he headed up toward the summit in search of restroom facilities. The line moved slowly since a lot of people were afraid to make the 3 foot jump from one boulder to Potato Chip Rock. Rod and I looked for Anand when we got to the front of the line, but couldn't find him so we took a few shots and dropped down. We met him coming down from the summit as we went up in search of the somewhat hidden block with the benchmark. He decided to wait for us at Potato Chip Rock. It took a little searching around the buildings until we found the right block. The access ladder was behind a building and we had to carry it to the starting spot. A short class 3 climb later, we found the benchmark and multiple reference marks. The cement structure on top was hollow with no apparent purpose. With that bit of business concluded, we met up with Anand again, and found the line for Potato Chip Rock had grown to about 50 deep. Rod wanted more photo ops, but not the hour long wait that would have required. We descended back into the clouds, which kept the temps and hydration needs down, and congratulated Anand for making the entire trip. This is not really his cup of tea. When the sore muscles heal, all he will remember are the views and making it to the top, maybe.