Monday, January 26 – San Luis Rey River valley

As we arise, we can see San Jacinto Peak (10,839 feet) and Hot Springs Mountain (6,533 feet) are topped with snow, just like they were in 1847 as the Battalion passed through the area. We’re glad we didn’t have to sleep out in the rain the past couple of nights.
The Billings home will still be our base of operations for today and tomorrow. We grab breakfast, get dressed for hiking, then Peter and I are driven back to the Vail Ranch Museum. The blog hasn’t done justice to the reception by the folks here. Hopefully the book will have enough room to do so.
The old route out of Temecula heads up into Rainbow Canyon – named for James P Rainbow in 1879 according to “San Diego County Place Names A to Z” by Leland Fetzer. I’d anticipated a more romantic origin. This little book will be important to anyone wanting to puzzle out places along the San Diego County section of the trail. I highly recommend browsing it online at Google Books – especially the Introduction which is highly informative about naming conventions and practices. Wonderful source.
And after an hour or so of hiking, Denny, Peter and I reach a milestone. The “Entering San Diego County” sign stops us short for a photo session as we near our long anticipated goal. The sign is just a confirmation of how close we are and adds a noticeable spring to our step all day. The sun is warm, the breezes are cool and despite the busy roads, we’re pushing forward, eager to reach San Diego itself.
Terry Wirth has done some research into the Pala Canyon area. Apparently a major part of el Camino Real went through that way. It’s one of the unresolved aspects to the trail. Hopefully Terry can find some additional reference resources that will help us figure it out.
On our way back to Temecula, we stop at a farm produce store for some food and Craig Smedley finds us! How we manage to bump into each other is beyond me. Completely unplanned. How does that happen? Craig, you may remember, hiked with us in the Vallicito to Box Canyon area last week. Craig is a descendant Levi McCullough, Pvt Co C.
We make dinner for the Billings family – stew with cornbread and peach cobbler. Ok – Denny makes dinner while we work on gear and packing. They’ve been wonderful to us all week long. Thanks.

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