Wednesday, January 28 – Soledad Valley, CA

Morning is busy. It’s time to take a final leave of the Billings who have been so kind to us. We wish them well with their family but expect to see them all this Saturday at the big event. Jerry helps pack us and then he moves the RV trailer to San Diego’s Boy Scout Camp Balboa, near the zoo.
The Imperial Scout Council is letting us use the camp as our base for the week. Since my Scout group in Michigan started this whole interest in the Battalion, it seems appropriate. In fact, we’ve been closely associated with the Scouts along the entire route. The majority of those who have hiked along with us have been under Scout auspices – troops and Cub dens joined us for a day here and there.
Terry Wirth and Virginia Guilbert join in the hiking for today, bringing us to a respectable group of five hikers. We all share in driving the Suburban as necessary. Well, that was after we had a little confusion. Seems Jerry didn’t get all the keys and is locked out of the RV, so Denny and Virginia scoot down to Balboa to get him installed.
Peter, Terry and I take the old el Camino Real side roads that Terry has scoped out during the past year. Our route winds through housing developments and along horse trails. At one stream, Terry relates that there used to be two crossings; one for wagons, another for people on foot. The foot path was in the softer marshlands that couldn’t support wagons. Which one the Battalion men used is uncertain.
Now, considering the importance of el Camino Real to early California history, you’d think there would be well researched maps showing the ROUTE of the trail. Apparently, not so – or at least – none one can easily get their hands on. Believe me, I’ve tried.
I know. I know. The California State Legislature has ruled that Highway 101 is nearly the exact route of the old trail, but you and I know that isn’t likely to be EXATCLY true. An old trail would have more variability than a modern road. So, it’s kind of annoying and with a small degree of paranoia when I try to find more details about el Camino. Very frustrating since you know SOMEWHERE there’s a map that tells more accurately where the original route was located. Enough of my ranting, but finding the old route is what our hike has been about and old maps are key to the effort.
Our stopping point is about twelve miles out from San Diego – under the intersection of I-5 and I-805. The original Battalion camped about 20 miles out but we don’t want to hike that far and arrive in the dark tomorrow. We take Terry back to his house in Carlsbad. Peter and Virginia bail with their car leaving just Denny and I to drive back to Balboa, get dinner with Jerry and retire early. Tomorrow has been long in coming and I’m anticipating this very much.

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