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Hiking: The Unofficial Passtime of the Californian

Updated: May 19, 2020

Graffiti on the side of a parking structure in downtown San Diego.  Don't believe the Hype
Graffiti on the side of a parking structure in downtown San Diego

Unpopular Opinion: Hiking is overrated

I said it, and I don’t care who heard it.

*somewhere a Californian just choked on some kombucha*

I am not against the principle of hiking. It's a form of exercise and being one with nature and all that. I get it. The bigger issue I have with it is the pressure for me to like it. Everyone here says they love hiking. Everyone. And I’m not so sure people actually like hiking so much as the peer pressure to like it. It is a common observation I have noticed that the Californian has a particular mindset and view that is incapable of computing any dissenting opinion against the Californian way.

"Don’t you love fresh air?", they’ll say. "Don’t you love the outdoors? What’s not to like?"

No response will satisfy. I do enjoy nature….preferably from my air-conditioned apartment on my couch watching Planet Earth, Blue Planet, Hostile Planet and all the other Planet shows. There are many ways to enjoy nature. Hiking is just not my preferred way.

I actually prefer city dwelling. Walking the streets of a major city at night and people watching. I loved doing that in New York. I'm weird. I know.

If you move to California, I am warning you now that you will be asked to go on a hike numerous times. And you will do it. You won't have a choice. If you are to live in this land and get along with its people, you have to go on a hike. It’s the law!

But rebellion is a continual thorn in my flesh (pray for me) so anyone or anything that remotely tries to force me to do or participate in something, my first instinct is to say "No" and fight it. That is not a recommended way to go about life. I’m working on it. That is why the first few times I was invited to go on hike I said, "Absolutely. Why not?"

That has led me on a few hikes since living in San Diego county. Torrey Pines. Mission Hills. Potato Chip Rock. Double Peak Park. There are at least two I would recommend, but on this post I will speak on one:

Potato Chip Rock:

King of the World shot.  Anything for the Gram.  Potato Chip Rock at Mt Woodson
King of the World shot. Anything for the Gram.

I went on this purely for the photo opportunity that awaits you at the top of a two hour hike at increasing elevation and steep inclines as a reward for your efforts. #ididitforthegram. It was the morning of my birthday, and I had only gotten 3 hours sleep because the night before I was in Tijuana with friends at a Toros baseball game.

Side Note: Baseball in Mexico is waaaay more entertaining than American baseball. I would not hesitate to go back to another. $6 seats behind the plate. Two huge fish tacos and a coke for $4. Endless music and eclectic merchants and numerous mascots running around. Oh, and a game was also happening. But I digress.

So after crossing the border and getting home at 2am, I slept and got up at 5am to meet my friends for the hike (not advisable).

Tip: Always hike as early as possible. You will have the whole day ahead of you when done. You’ll feel good about yourself. And most importantly, you will avoid the crowds and the heat.

Now here's the thing about the Potato Chip trails. There is an easier, flatter incline path and a harder path. I voted for easy but I’m believer in the path of least resistance, work smarter not harder mentality. And I’m only in it for the picture. My friends out voted me though because they were in it for the exercise and sense of accomplishment, which I’ll never understand. If I want to accomplish something that has impact on the world or lives and not in my ability to climb rocks but to each their own.

So we hiked. And hiked. Stopped to caught breath. Hiked some more. And some more. Stopped to breath and conceal my regret for coming. More hiking. Be lapped by some elderly health freak. Passed through the clouds. Stopped to look at view as an excuse to take a break. And then more hiking.

Finally, FINALLY. Two hours later there is was. Potato Chip Rock. And a line for pictures.

Side Note: For you beginners and those new to working out, you may experience the following while on this hike:

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing


Muscle and body aches


Chest pain

Basically the coronavirus symptoms.

Tip: plenty of water and hiking boots are required. It can get hot and the paths slippery.

It is actually dangerous climbing up on the rock, and coming down is even trickier. You’ll have to shimmy and slid down carefully. I’m surprised I don’t hear about more accidents up there. You are truly standing on the edge of a cliff. The view is stunning. But your time on the rock will be short as others are waiting for their "king of the world" moment.

So after lounging around and taking our pictures, we headed back (1 hour to come down) and headed to the Broken Yolk Cafe for my birthday breakfast.

Did I have a good time? Yes, i was with friends. Would I do it again? No, because why? I have my picture. If I were the hiking type....I guess. I can't deny hiking is in my future because when in Rome.

And dating in California will make it inevitable. But my preference for exercise is CrossFit, strength training and swimming. I prefer the beach over the mountains 9 times out of 10. I do draw the line at anything over 2 hours for hiking. I have friends that go backpacking or have gone on eight hour hikes straight up a mountain in snow. That's insane. That is not fun at all.

Hiking is just not for me.

For those interested in hiking, and more information on Potato Chip Rock at Mt Woodson, I recommend the following site:

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