Lake Cuyamaca


Getting There
The hardest thing about finding Lake Cuyamaca was locating it on Google.  Apparently, I spelled it so bad that even Google didn’t recognize what it was.   Did it start with a “G” or with a “C”?  After a few tries, I spelled it close enough to get the links I was looking for and the info on where it was and how to get there.

Lake Cuyamaca is about an hour’s drive from San Diego and only ten minutes from the small town of Julian. The route to Julian from Oceanside is one of my favorite drives even though it takes over an hour to get there. I had heard about this lake many times and always wanted to visit, so off we went with fishing poles in hand, cameras, munchies, and a warm change of clothes.

As you pass through the main street of Julian you eventually hit the road that heads towards the lake. The scenery along the way is filled with meadows and hills and you would never know that it snows there at certain times of the year.


Situated at an elevation of around 4,600 feet, the lake is nestled in a forest of mostly pine and oak and is surrounded on three sides by the 26,000 acre Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.

Arriving at the Lake
On an exceptionally warm day in November, we departed Oceanside with the car thermometer showing 85 degrees outside.    Dressed in shorts and short sleeves, we noticed the needle slowly descending toward lower numbers as we drove further up in elevation. When we arrived at the lake it was 65 degrees.

At first it felt kind of nice and refreshing so I kept on my summer attire, but after a while I made the mad dash to the car to find my warm clothes consisting of a sweatshirt and long pants.  I may be a beach girl with salt water for brains but even I know it gets colder at over 4,000 feet above sea level…plus I Googled the current temperatures.

Now it was time to get busy fishing.  As we sat alongside the lake, a few people stopped by to chat and casually let us know that the lake had been dead the last few days.  One guy said he hadn’t caught anything in three hours and in that same time period we only got three small nibbles.

Our little fishing area

Don’t let that discourage you as they stock the lake annually with over 38,000 lbs. of trout. They just weren’t biting that day where we were, or on the boats, or on the dock, or anywhere near someone’s fishing pole. It was just one of those days.  Other than trout, the lake also has bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, and sturgeon.

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Chasing the Moon

It was called the  ‘Super moon’ and on one autumn evening it was going to be seen large and bright while rising over the city in San Diego.  I had thoughts of the beautiful San Diego downtown skyscrapers providing the colorful foreground for this unusual occurrence.

Even though I was getting delayed at work, I made the last-minute decision to head down the road for the 40 minute drive to the amazing SD bay.

I got there just in time to set up my shot and had enough time to get the settings just right.  My tripod was at the ready while in the distance the high-rise buildings were gradually lighting up against the twilight sky.  I couldn’t wait to see this great shot.

However, being the amateur photographer as I am, I wasn’t quite sure on where the moon would rise.   I wasn’t alone though; many others were patiently waiting where I was standing.

I guy told us that it would rise at 5:30 so I was a little perplexed when at 5:45 there was still no moon.  I was about to give up when I heard someone yell, “Over here”.

It was not going to rise over the now illuminating city scape. it was over more by the hills above the airport.

With equipment in hand, all of us started running across the street and through a parking lot, then toward a marina. The lady ahead of me ran right into a chain that went across the parking lot and almost flipped herself over the barrier.   I looked like a football running back as I slid to the side  to avoid the same fate.

We couldn’t find an opening even though we saw the white illumination of the rising moon getting higher and higher. My shot was dying!!  Every time I tried to shoot; a sailboat mast was in the way. I was hurrying trying to get the settings of the camera. The moon was moving too quickly so I took a separate shot of the moon with detail and one where it was against the buildings but much brighter and no detail.
Cropped them together at the exact size the moon was in the buildings photo.

skyline-for-wp-1000 moon-over-city-gg-1000-for-wp

Such a fun night even though I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. I need that app that tells us where all planets and stars are at any given time.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the shots, my sciatic nerve hurts today from my OJ move, but I’ll be o.k. until next time.

Story: Debbie Colwell

Photos: Debbie Colwell