By Heidi Gutknecht
On Thursday, Jan. 10, a mother and daughter duo, Annette and Shelby Bojevsky, finished the 5-Peak Challenge and stopped by the Mission Trails Regional Park’s Visitor Center front desk to be processed as “walk-ins.” Little did they know, or us for that matter (until later), that they were numbers 9,999 and 10,000 to have successfully completed Mission Trails’ 5-Peak Challenge. Way to go, ladies!
To honor and congratulate them on this milestone, the MTRP Foundation gave them each a 5-Peak Challenge T-shirt to wear with pride. The local Adventure-16 store in Mission Valley also generously donated a $50 gift card and hiking-related merchandise, and REI donated items as well.
Back in September, Annette first heard about the challenge from an elderly patient at Kaiser, where she works, and thought if he could do it, so could she. Her daughter, Shelby, completed the challenge with her, and both agree that South Fortuna is by far their favorite hike. On their way up the hike’s “stairway to heaven,” a woman in her 80s passed them and inspired them to push on to the summit, where they were rewarded with an awesome view.
Since the challenge began back on Nov. 7, 2015, there has been an average of 263 people per month completing it. Created by former Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) Park Ranger Levi Dean and current MTRP Park Ranger Heidi Gutknecht, the original intent of the challenge was to help get the word out that there is much more to Mission Trails than just Cowles Mountain. As one of the most popular hikes in San Diego, hordes of people tackle Cowles every day (and night), rain or shine; and as a result, the trails take quite a beating. Those who cut switchbacks for short cuts also create unauthorized trails, which contribute to erosion and further destruction of the official trails. By letting people know that there are four other peaks in the park to hike, the hope was to spread out some of the heavy foot traffic on Cowles and thus decrease the rate of damage to the trails.
The 5-Peak Challenge has been very successful in getting hikers to explore the park’s other trails, but in doing so, has brought more hikers to the park, resulting in more wear and tear on the trails. In addition, many people have been going off-trail to shorten the distance of completing all five peaks in one day.
If you are currently working on the challenge or planning to complete it in the near future, please be sure to stay on the official, authorized trails at all times. We need to work together to protect and preserve this beautiful park we all love so much. Remember, it’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey.
Happy hiking and congratulations again to Annette and Shelby for helping to mark this 5-Peak Challenge milestone!
Annual Arbor Day brings 34 new trees
Each year, the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation offers the opportunity for community members to underwrite the planting of a tree at MTRP; and they can do so in honor or in memory of a loved one. We’re pleased to report that the December 2018 Arbor Day brought in the largest number of donors to Arbor Day since 2000 with a total of 34 trees!
On Dec. 1, families and friends gathered at Kumeyaay Lake Campground to plant 14 trees; another tree planting was done in January, also at the campground. In total, 20 new coast live oak trees were planted at Kumeyaay Lake Campground (KLC), with the remainder of the 34 sponsored trees to be planted by MTRP staff as needed.
Many thanks to the community members who came forward to bring more trees to Mission Trails. We will seek this year’s Arbor Day supporters in October and November.
— Heidi Gutknecht is a park ranger at Mission Trails Regional Park.
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 Walks Kumeyaay Lake Campground: 8:30 a.m., second and fourth Saturday each month – KLC Campground
West Sycamore Nature Walk: 8 a.m., third Sunday each month – Stonebridge Parkway in Scripps Ranch
Birding Basics Class: 1 p.m., last Saturday each month – Visitor Center
Bird Walks: 8 a.m., third Saturday each month – check website calendar for meeting locations
Family Discovery Walks: 3 p.m., fourth Sunday each month – Visitor Center
Discovery Table Activity: 10 a.m.-1 p.m., second Saturday each month – Visitor Center
Live Hawk Talk Activity: 9 a.m.-noon, first Sunday each month – Visitor Center
West Sycamore Volunteer Crew: 8 a.m., first Sunday each month – check website calendar for meeting locations
Habitat Restoration Volunteer Crew: 8 a.m., second Saturday each month – check website calendar for meeting locations
Trail Improvement Volunteer Crew: 8 a.m., third Sunday each month – check website calendar for meeting locations
Park Beautification Volunteer Crew: 8 a.m., fourth Saturday each month – check website calendar for meeting locations
Kids Nature Story & Craft with a Ranger: 10 a.m., every third Saturday – meet at KLC Campground Kumeyaay Lake Picnic Structure, RSVP to 619-668-3279.
Native American Flute Circle: 1-3 p.m., second Sunday each month – Visitor Center Outdoor Amphitheater
*Partial listing of monthly events at Mission Trails Park. Please view website for full calendar of free activities, programs, and updates at mtrp.org or call the Visitor Center at 619-668-3281.