Farewells, milestone hikes and photo contest

By Jennifer Morrissey and Leslie Perkins | Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation

A note from the executive director

Unfortunately, I will be stepping away from my role as executive director for the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation to address a vision health issue. I am sad to be leaving such a special place with amazing staff and dedicated volunteers, and I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the team. I appreciate and thank you for the community support of Mission Trails Regional Park and the foundation’s mission.

We have a great person to take over as executive director and lead the foundation into the future! Jennifer Morrissey brings two decades of nonprofit leadership experience, and fundraising and marketing skills with her, as well as a love for Mission Trails Regional Park, which she visits regularly with her family!

Stop by and say hello to Jennifer if you are at the park and she can be reached at Please enjoy her column below.

—Leslie Perkins

Gary Hogue on the top of Cowles Mountain (Courtesy MTRPF)

An impressive milestone

On Saturday, March 17, native San Diegan Gary Hogue made his 10,000th ascent of Cowles Mountain. It was a momentous occasion, and Gary celebrated the milestone at the top with family and friends. Gary started hiking Cowles Mountain in 1983, and has dutifully calculated his daily summits since that time. He gradually increased the number of his summits every year, and in 1999 recorded the most summits in a year at 389. After he retired as an engineer for the city of San Diego Water Department in December 2005, Gary increased his hikes to twice daily. Now he averages about 350 summits a year. His overall number would be higher, but annual trips to the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Anza Borrego Desert take him out of the area; but even on these trips, he hikes and bikes many miles.

Hiking Cowles Mountain and biking is all the conditioning Gary needs to climb some of the tallest peaks in California. He has summited Mt. Whitney (14,508 feet) 21 times, and White Mountain (14,252 feet) six times. Gary Hogue is easy to recognize on Cowles Mountain with his long, white beard, Mt. Whitney baseball cap, OTL shirt, and shorts. Regardless of the weather, he always wears shorts. If you pass Gary on the trail, join us in congratulating him on this amazing, 10,000-hike feat!

Like Gary Hogue, many of us in the community have a great attachment to Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP). A wonderful way to pay tribute to a loved one, your family, or organization is through a memorial or commemorative plaque at MTRP. There are a few locations left for such recognition, so if you’ve been considering placement of a commemorative plaque on a bench or a picnic table, now is the time to make this idea a reality. Your donation includes the plaque, recognition of your gift on our Visitor Center Donor Board, and inclusion in our quarterly newsletter. To learn more about this recognition opportunity, please contact Jennifer Morrissey at 619-582-4502 or email

Amateur Photography Contest

Another way you can engage and support MTRP is by participating in our annual Amateur Photography Contest! For 26 years, the MTRP Foundation has staged the contest as a way to encourage photographers of all ages to capture their experiences of MTRP through the lens, and to share their unique perspectives with the community. Spring is a great time of year at MTRP, and the images you capture in these categories—plants, animals, people, and landscapes—help us to showcase all MTRP has to offer. Entries will be displayed at the MTRP Visitor Center from May 12 through June 22, 2018, with an awards reception on Sunday, June 10. Photo contest entries must be received by mail or dropped off at the MTRP Visitor Center by May 4, 2018. For more information including contest rules, prizes, and an application, visit

— Leslie Perkins is the outgoing and Jennifer Morrissey is the incoming executive director of the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation.


Mission Trails Regional Park calendar of events

Wildlife Tracking Walks – 8:30 a.m., first Saturday each month – Visitor Center

Guided Nature Walks – 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday each week – Visitor Center

Guided Nature Walk – 8:30 a.m., second and fourth Saturday each month – Kumeyaay Lake Campground

Birding Basics – 1 p.m., last Saturday each month – Visitor Center

Bird Walks – 8 a.m., third Saturday each month – check website for meeting location

West Sycamore Nature Walks – 8 a.m., third Sunday each month – Stonebridge Parkway in Scripps Ranch

Family Discovery Walks – 3 p.m., fourth Sunday each month – Visitor Center

Discovery Table Demos – 10 a.m.–1 p.m., second Saturday each month – Visitor Center

Live Hawk Demos – 9 a.m.–noon, first Sunday each month – Visitor Center

West Sycamore Volunteer Crew – 8 a.m., first Sunday each month – Stonebridge Parkway in Scripps Ranch

Habitat Restoration Volunteer Crew – 8 a.m., second Saturday each month – Kumeyaay Lake Campground Day Use Lot

Trail Improvement Volunteer Crew – 8 a.m., third Sunday each month – Kumeyaay Lake Campground Day Use Lot

Park Beautification Volunteer Crew – 8 a.m., fourth Saturday each month – Kumeyaay Lake Campground Day Use Lot

Star Gazing with San Diego Astronomy Association – Sunset to 10 p.m. – check website for date and locations

Native American Flute Circle – 1–3 p.m., second Sunday each month – Visitor Center Outdoor Amphitheater

Free Concert – 3 p.m., Sunday April 15, San Diego Harp Society – Visitor Center

Free Concert – 3 p.m., Sun April 29, Renaissance Music – Visitor Center

Free Concert – 3 p.m., Sun May 6, Peter Sprague (guitar) – Visitor Center

*Partial listing of Monthly Events at Mission Trails Park. View our website for full calendar of free activities and programs, visit, or call the Visitor Center at 619-668-3281.

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