The Luiseños Indians called this area Wavamai. When the Spanish arrived, they named the area “Palomar” (place of the pigeons). Renaming the mountain was the least of the ill-effects wrought by the Spanish on the Luiseños. The disruption of their way of life and European diseases devastated the Luiseño population. But not completely. Today gambling casinos extract the long overdue payment to the Luiseños for past wrongs. (I know. I know. I just like to look at it as some sort of poetic justice.)
A visit from Boston-area Scott and Don provided the perfect excuse to escape the city and hike the Palomar Mountain area. Palomar Mountain is home to the world-famous Palomar Observatory at its 6,100 foot peak. Hot in summer and snow-capped in winter, spring is a great time to explore the area.
We hiked the Thunder Spring-Chimney Flats loop which starts at Doane Pond and climbs through some nice oak-shaded woods. Last October’s fire reached this area and a portion of our hike was through stark remains of burnt oak and pine trees. An abandoned apple orchard was nonetheless blooming. The four-mile hike was a perfect mountain stroll. On this hot weekend (the valley below was in the 90’s) the mountain air was only 75.