Monday, September 14, 2020

CoViD-19 Stats | Hiking Ramona Grasslands & Photos | Conspiracy Theories Run Rampant | Vaccine Equity Threatened | Wildfire Death Count Rising

A midday hike on the permit-only Ramona Grasslands trail (Taken 9.13.2020)

I don't keep it any secret that I have terrible sleep habits. If you've ever asked me (pre-pandemic) to get together, you'll generally get a hem-haw. Plans give me debilitating anxiety. I do well with spontaneity, where in that moment I can say yes or no and move on. 
When I actually got to bed before midnight on Saturday, I woke up rested at 4am. And I thought, no day like today to go for a hike. 
I thought I did my research. A couple weeks ago, we got permits to hike the Ramona Grasslands Old Survey Road 97 Trail, but obviously with the recent heat and fires, we hadn't really thought about it. I mean, just last week I was railing against people who were hiking in the dangerous conditions, being rescued, diverting frontline personnel. 
But I thought I did all the things. I got my map to Ramona Grasslands and screenshotted in case we lost service. I consulted the local hiking group on the essential things to carry on a hike. I filled water bottles and refrigerated them. I froze my cold pack cooler. I packed a basic first-aid kid and found my multi-tool. I packed snacks. I checked the air quality, local fire situation, and the projected weather forecast. When I finally woke Nova up to see if she was onboard (she's always game for something new,) I had her pack a bag for the hike and one for the car for after. Same for Darren. We had binocs and my camera and extra water and food in the car (probably enough for 3 days though we were only hiking 6 miles.) Once everyone was up, we all had healthy, energy packed breakfasts. 
We did all the things. 
(More after the jump.)

We finally left the house at 7:30, so only about 15-30 minutes later than I'd wanted. We got to the Ramona Grasslands staging area and it was a little weird to see so many dogs (being that the permit process said absolutely no dogs allowed). 
That should've been my first clue. 
We passed through the Meadow Loop and the Connector Loop. There was a photographer shooting a magnificent bird (red-tailed hawk?) so I had to stop for awhile to check it out, too. But then we continued on the Wildflower Loop and I thought we were definitely in the wrong place. But like a dummy, instead of finding the permit page (which is different than the park page but has a VERY CLEAR MAP on it), we Googled "Old Survey Road 97" which resulted in about an hour drive through the backroads of Ramona and San Pascual Valley. For a matter of record, Old Survey Road is a private road which takes you to several residences, a construction company, and some random winery. It was beautiful, but definitely not what we were looking for. By the time I course corrected, located the correct map, and drove to the permitted staging area (where a ranger hangs out under a tent to check permits,) it was well after 10am. For a 6-mile loop, we kinda knew we wouldn't be doing the whole thing as the temperature was quickly rising. 
We did our best. Fortunately the ranger told us once we got to the overlook and could see the balloon at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the third mile is a steep trail down, which means at the end you turn around and do the steep climb up as your fourth mile. 
Since we'd already done a few miles on the earlier trails and saw no wildlife besides a couple crows and squirrels, we decided we'd call it there and turn around. And I love you chaparal, and I know we have to save you, but September isn't your prettiest look. 
All in all, with the earlier hike, we did a little over 6 miles, which isn't that big of a deal except that most of my days since March have been entirely within my yard, sometimes only from bedroom to living room and back again. My big exercise adventures have been limited to places that I feel safest with mask requirements and compliance, which means mostly to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, and sad to say, trips to Costco or Grocery Outlet or Big Lots when we're low on supplies. But I have to say, the articles about obesity and COVID-19 have really freaked me out. And then I saw this video of a mom-- my age, my size, my ethnicity -- gasping for air in her final video to her family before she died, and it really affected me. So I need to do better.
While I don't see myself rushing back to Ramona, I do have to say that I like the idea of a trail limiting how many people can be on it and ensuring all users (hikers, bicyclists, and equestrian) have masks. We maybe passed a dozen people total on the permit loop, all but one who put on masks as we passed. And the one who didn't was going uphill on a mountain bike, so I'll forgive that he would've lost all momentum to mask up. Compare that to the parking lots of Iron Mountain or the street parking at Mt Woodson which we drove by along the way, and both are a hard pass for me.
The website maybe oversells on the wildlife, but I suppose you'd see a lot more if you actually arrived at sunrise or in the late afternoon and not the middle of the day like we eventually did. There's also almost nearly a one mile walk in, before you're really even in the preserve, but there is a sweet curious cow who comes over to her fence to say hi, homes with beautiful horses, and a small water reclamation reservoir to look at. I know they do Golden Eagle lookouts later in the fall, so maybe we'll try that when the time comes.
All in all it was a good day. I was with my family and we got to sweat it out and see new spots in the county we never knew existed and disengage from our screens. Though incidentally, the Old Survey staging area is at the end of the road we'd stumbled upon when we went to look for Comet Neowise, so it was new and familiar at the same time.
Anyway, I would love love love to get out more and do more days like this, but we'll just have to keep exploring and keep an open heart that if places are too crowded, they're just not for us and move on to something else more isolated. (photos at the end of this post)
  • California COVID-19 Stats:
    • 4,625 New Cases/754,923 Total Cases (0.6% increase)
    • 78 New Deaths/14,329 Total Deaths (0.5% increase)
    • 3.8% 14-day test positivity rate
  • San Diego County Stats
    • State Data:
      • 445 New Cases/42,416 Total Cases
      • 4 Deaths/734 Total Deaths
      • 6.9 cases/100k population (7 days before 7-day lag, Reassessed on Tuesdays, Data for week ending 8.29)
      • 4.3% Test Positivity (7 days before 7-day lag, Reassessed on Tuesdays, Data for week ending 8.29)
    • County Data:
      • 265 New Cases/42,679 Total Cases 
      • 0 New Daily Deaths/734 Total Deaths
      • 3% Daily Test Positivity/4.5% Test Positivity (14-day average)
      • Case Investigation is 97%
      • 5 New/16 Community Outbreaks (7-day)
      • Hospitalization Trigger has gone back down to 2% from 11% yesterday
      • 8/30-9/5 - Average Cases Per Day 335.7. Unadjusted cases per 100k = 9.96
      • 9/6-9/12 - Average Cases Per Day 289.9. Unadjusted cases per 100k = 8.6
  • SDSU COVID-19 Update
    • As of Sept. 11 at 6 p.m., 594 confirmed cases and four (4) probable cases have been reported for a total of 598 cases.
    • As of Sept. 12 at 6 p.m., 617 confirmed cases and four (4) probable cases have been reported for a total of 621 cases.
    • As of Sept. 12 (Do they mean Sept 13?) at 6 p.m., 623 confirmed cases and four (4) probable cases have been reported for a total of 627 cases.
  • News/Politics
  • Wildfires
To add one more thing about hiking, I highly recommend following Jenny Bruso's Unlikely Hikers. She is an avid hiker whose message is that nature is for all bodies and has created a movement for body-acceptance and even pressured gear and apparel companies to expand their products for people of all sizes, ability, gender, and race. I was friends with Jenny's sister and knew her when she was a little girl and never cease to be impressed with the way she took her pain and made it something beautiful for every body.

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