This past Saturday we just wanted to get out of the apartment, hit the trails, and escape into nature for a couple of hours. This trip report is a great example of how a typically chill day hike can turn into an unexpected adventure that you may have not been totally prepared for.
Our original hike plan for Clevenger Canyon North in northern San Diego was to hike up to the top enjoy the views and hike back down. The total trip was supposed to be around 4.6 miles according to Caltopo.
Caltopo map can be found here.
This trip was kind of off from the get-go. When we arrived at the parking lot the gate was closed and locked. We looked around and didn't see any sign saying the trail was closed, just a sign saying the place was under surveillance.
There was a number for a ranger so we gave it a call and they answered surprisingly quickly. I told the ranger that we were at the locked gate and we were interested if the trail was still open. For a little context here, a lot of local hikes during COVID-19 Pandemic have closed parking lots in order to limit the number of people on the trail, but the trails are still open. The ranger told us the trail was indeed open and told us we could park on the side of the main road.
Apparently they locked the parking lot gate because people have been leaving their trash in the parking lot at night, which explains the sign saying the area was under surveillance.
After parking and walking into the parking lot, we could see there was a lot of trash and broken bottles...not a great sight to see at the start of the hike.
Looking past the trash though the trail looked beautiful:
Once we got on the trail is wound its way down under some huge rocks, but again they were unfortunately covered in graffiti.
The path winds steeply down towards the Santa Ysabel Creek which was completely dry when we got to it. Based on the looks of it though, this dried out river definitely flows pretty well during certain times of the year.
As we walked down this path we saw a sign that warned of aggressive bees on the trail and showed the location on a map. The sign looked pretty old so we decided to see what it was like and continued on
Once you cross the creek the climb up begins and as you rise out of the creek bed you are treated with some beautiful views.
The trail itself is pretty overgrown and I would suggest wearing pants and boots:
As we continued to climb up towards the top, we eventually got to the beehive and immediately turned around. It was right where they said it would be on the sign we saw earlier.
As we walked briskly away from the bees, a handful were aggressively chasing us. Eventually, they stopped but I have never had bees literally chase me down before. Usually, my experience has been if you leave them alone they will leave you alone. This was not the case here...
After catching our breath we were not so easily deterred. So we went back and tried to pass.... this was a mistake. They came after us and this time one stung me in the face.... it hurt.
After the bees stopped chasing us we stopped to catch our breath and assess the damage. The side of my face felt as if someone hammered a nail into it.
Luckily it was only me who got stung and Rachel my fiance was not. Also luckily neither of us are allergic to bees.
My immediate concern since the sting was close to my eyes was that it would swell up and make it hard for me to see as we tried to negotiate our way back down the mountain to our car. My second concern was how do we get back to the car because at this point we were past the beehive and we would have to pass them again to back down. After the first sting, I was not thrilled with the idea of going back past the aggressive pissed off bees.
Problem one was the stinger still in my head though, and I did not have my pliers on my Leatherman I normally have on hikes with me. Rachel was a badass and used two credit cards as a makeshift tweezers and was able to get the stinger out of the side of my head.
After taking a quick look at the map I decided we would go a little off-trail and take the dried out creek to our east and follow that back to the Santa Ysabel Creek and back up to our car.
Here is our path back:
This was a really interesting path to take back and would have been a lot more fun if my head wasn't pounding. It was super thick vegetation there were these vines that made it feel like going through a jungle but I was in Southern California.
I don't have any pictures of this part despite it being beautiful, I packed my camera away and was on a mission to get back to the car safely at this point.
Most of this part of the hike was light bouldering and was a bit more exhausting than our planned chill day hike. The lesson here is that you never know what an easy day hike might turn into. I didn't have my pliers which would have helped with the stinger (I won't make that mistake again) but at least I had overpacked on water.
O yea and if you see a sign for aggressive bees, they actually are quite aggressive.