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Right after the California 10/20  last Sunday, I headed home to pack up for an overnight adventure to Cuyamaca/Julian.

After being redirected several times on highway 79, we finally made it to Paso Picacho Campgrounds. The campgrounds were quiet but we learned that the big crowds had been there Friday and Saturday night.  Being somewhat unprepared, we didn’t bring enough cash and ended up scavenging for coins to pay the $30 overnight fee, eventually having it lowered to the Senior rate ($28) and even borrowing some change from Ranger Grace.

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Wet set up camp, grubbed on some snacks, and grabbed some incognito beers for our campground hike. We decided to go on a 3 mile loop, which ended up being much more of an excursion, starting at 3pm and leaving us out there collecting firewood until after 6:30pm. Don’t know exactly what happened there!

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For dinner we cooked up some of my favorite soup, Amy’s Organic Red Bean and Rice, topped with a slice of pepper jack cheese and El Nopalito tortilla chips.

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The next morning we woke up to the sounds of birds pecking at trees and howls from our neighboring campers. We made a french press coffee and oatmeal breakfast, and then packed up to head out for the Three Sisters Hike in Julian. We started around 12:30pm, and passed a lot of people coming out of the hike. The Three Sisters Hike is considered “expert,” and rightly so. Steep soft patches of sand, rope sections, and literal rock climbing made this a fairly intense hike. I ended up scrambling for most of it!

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But at the bottom of the valley we finally arrived at three waterfalls, or “The Three Sisters.” By this time it was around 2:30pm and fairly warm. We climbed to the top waterfall and jumped into the cold pond, and swam behind the fall into a little grotto. We brought light snacks, some apples, baby Larabars, and “bear crackers” (aka Mary’s Gone Crackers seed crackers).

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Going down into the valley presented a lesser challenge than going back up. The soft sand, or “sands of hell” were so tough, I was literally crawling, claiming I would rather run a full marathon at that point than have to continue to crawl for the next .1 mile. We finished with tight quads and calves, and an appetite for some dinner.

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It wasn’t too long until we found ourselves in Julian at the Julian Cafe, drinking water out of boots (lolz) and eating some homestyle cowboy food. And before we left we made sure to grab 2 full Mom’s Pies (one chicken, one apple boysenberry crumble) to-go 😛 Overall, it was a fun overnight adventure close enough to home without feeling so.

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Where’s your favorite place to hike and/or camp?

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