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By Billy Ortiz

View our “Winter Wonderland” Video

February 2, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Living in the San Diego area, it’s a rare treat to visit the snow in our local mountains. So on a cold day in January, when the weather report said the storm was over, I packed my cameras and headed east to the Laguna Mountains.


As I hit the 2000 foot elevation mark just past Viejas Mountain, I could see the snowy peak of Cuyamaca. When I finally reached Sunrise Highway, I rolled my windows down and caught a blast of chilly air. There was no hint of snow as I started up the highway, but as I climbed, snow drifts still clinging to the embankment alongside the road told me I was in for a treat. Much to my delight, I drove into the clouds, imagining that it may be snowing just ahead.


I was not disappointed as I reached the first rest area in this still pristine pine and oak tree area that is the Cleveland National Forest. The ground and trees were blanketed with snow; it was just beautiful. I stayed at this spot for a while and watched as more and more visitors arrived to this wintery wonderland. Off I went higher up Laguna Mountain, knowing the snow would be deeper.


I reached the Laguna store, one of my favorite places to visit in winter or summer, which still has the feel of long ago. Not far away, kids and families enjoyed some sledding and snowman building.


One last stop before I headed home was the lookout point only a couple miles north of the Laguna Lodge. This view point offers an unbelievable view of the desert to the east.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed not being able to see out through the thick clouds on this cold winter’s day, but I made the best of it and read a little history about the area. As I climbed into my truck and started on my way home, the treat I was waiting for began to fall from the sky: snow!


Of all of the earth’s miracles, snow by far is my favorite, in the right amounts of course. We are blessed living in San Diego—flanked by beaches to the west and mountains to the east, crowned by snow on special occasions like this.

Next time you hear the weatherman say snow is expected to fall in the local mountains, wait for the storm to clear, then head for Laguna Mountain in our beautiful East County.
View the video.

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