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By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Henri Migala and Miriam Raftery

February 27, 2023 (Santa Ysabel)-- The weekend storm brough snow to unusually low levels in San Diego County's mountains. With  popular destinations such as Julian, Cuyamaca and Mount Laguna blocked except to residents and chains required in the morning, followed by traffic jams when some highways later opened, ECM's editor and photographer headed to Santa Ysabel instead.

Visitors pulled off alongside the highway were enjoying building a snowman and tossing snowballs, with dogs frolicking in the snow. Several motorists paused to pose for pictures with horses standing just behind a barbed wire fence.

Blue skies,puffy clouds and sunbeams warming the terrain completed this idyllic scene.

To get there, head up State Route 79 past Ramona and turn left on State Route 78, just past Dudley's Bakery in Santa Ysabel.  Just a short way along Highway 78, we found hillsides and meadows still covered in a light layer of snow.

More snow is forecast this week, so there's still time after the next storm ends to get in some quality snowplay time or simply enjoy the winter wonderland scenery in our inland region.

One word of caution:  Chains, though not required in this area, would be a good idea.  We observed Santa Ysabel Tribal police assisting motorists whose vehicles were stuck in snow at the side of the road, helpfully towing them back onto the highway.  A tribal police officer advised that they have provided tow assists to over 50 motorists stuck in the snow, as of mid-afternoon yesterday.

If you go to Santa Ysabel instead of Julian, you can sitll pick up a Julian apple pie to take home, since Julian Pie Comapny has an outlet just behind the famed Dudley's Bakery, another sweet spot to stop for homemade breads, sandiwiches, jams and more.

Ramona also has many wineries; we stopped off at Milagro Winery on the Old Julian Highway between Santa Ysabel and downtown Ramoona to savor some delightful vintages.  Another idyllic stop, if you have time for lunch or dinner, is at Marinade on Main in Ramona's historic district.

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