|October 2, 2010|
For 5 years now I've hiked North Fortuna both regularly and sporadically, if that makes any sense. I've always been amazed at how uncrowded this side of Mission Trail Regional Park is, and I've used both North and South Fortuna mountains as my regular after work hikes, easily tagging each summit 100 times by now. I've hiked to the top in the daytime, the nighttime, the fog, and the rain. I've blazed North Fortuna in under an hour car to car, and I've carried a 65 lb pack over its summit to train for larger mountains. I've seen deer, coyote, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, and even a creepy tarantula wasp dragging a stunned tarantula across the trail, all en route to the Fortuna mountains. Not that the Fortuna mountains are entirely all the striking (though they can be!), but they are convenient, uncrowded, and versatile.
I was lucky enough to have two friends with me, Anna and Phil, and we had an ulterior motive for today's hike. This was the weekend of the Miramar air show, and I've always wanted to see it from the top of North Fortuna. I'd always been out of town the weekend of the air show, but I thought that North Fortuna, with its proximity to the Miramar air field, would offer a unique vantage point.
We pulled into a visitor's parking spot in the apartment complex off of Portobelo Drive and started the hike in. There was still construction going on at this entrance to Mission Trails, but it was easy enough to walk around and find the trailhead near the back of the apartment complex. We cruised the mile and a half of rolling hills, then started up the steeper slopes overlooking the 52 freeway.
I'd looked down on stopped traffic on the 52 so many times while hiking North Fortuna, and it always made me feel lucky to be out there. If I had that commute, I'd move or change jobs, but if I couldn't do that, I'd pull over and hike North Fortuna every day after work.
The much more crowded Cowles Mountain (Mission Trails' highest point) in the distance
We followed the trail through a few signed junctions and onto the shoulder of North Fortuna, where the last half mile shifts back and forth between the NE and SW side of the mountain. We could hear a few airplanes overhead and booked it up to the summit to find a nice spot to relax. A few others had the same idea we did, and at about 20 people, this was the most crowded I'd ever seen this side of Mission Trails.
A crowd on North Fortuna
We found the summit boulders to be empty, so we took them over, settling in with a few snacks and drinks about 10 minutes before the Blue Angles shot overhead. We were just in time!
North Fortuna stats: 4.5 miles roundtrip, 900 feet gain/loss