Amazing walk up the historic Helix Flume Trail!

Breathtaking views and unique history can be enjoyed during a hike on the Helix Flume Trail in Lakeside.
Breathtaking views and unique history can be enjoyed during a hike on the Helix Flume Trail in Lakeside.

In 1889 a 35-mile long wooden water flume was completed that brought water from Lake Cuyamaca in San Diego’s East County into the rapidly growing city.

This morning I enjoyed an amazing walk up the historic Helix Flume Trail in Lakeside!

The moderately easy hiking trail begins at the old El Monte Pump Station, climbs a nearby hillside with a series of short steep switchbacks, then follows a short, mostly level section of the historic flume’s route. Information signs describe the construction and history of the engineering marvel, and hikers are able to see the entrance to one of the flume’s old tunnels!

As you will observe in the following photographs, the walk includes some fantastic vistas and natural beauty.

Come along with me and read the photo captions to learn much more…

Looking toward the trailhead of the historic Helix Flume Trail.
Looking past a large shady tree toward the trailhead of the historic Helix Flume Trail.
The old El Monte Pump Station is located next to the small parking lot by the trailhead to the Helix Flume Trail.
The old El Monte Pump Station is located next to a small parking lot by the trailhead to the Helix Flume Trail.
The El Monte Pump Station was originally built in 1898 to lift well water to the flume on the hillside using steam powered pumps.
The El Monte Pump Station was originally built in 1898 to lift well water to the flume on the hillside using steam powered pumps.
Photograph of the historic pump station in Lakeside, California.
Photograph includes huge pipes outside the historic pump station in Lakeside, California.
Plaque by door of El Monte Pump Station dated 1937, when a major overhaul was finally complete. Water was then pumped from the El Capitan Reservoir.
Plaque by door of El Monte Pump Station dated 1937, when a major overhaul was finally complete. Water was then pumped from the El Capitan Reservoir.
Heading toward the trailhead and some information signs concerning the flume.
Heading toward the trailhead and an information sign concerning the flume.
One of several signs along the trail that describe the construction and history of the famous water flume.
One of several signs along the trail that describe the construction and history of the famous water flume.
The blue line on this topographic map is where the flume water descended as it flowed west to the growing city of San Diego.
The blue line on this topographic map is where the flume water descended as it flowed west to the growing city of San Diego.
Photograph of the wooden water flume next to old Highway 80 in El Cajon Valley.
Photograph of the wooden water flume next to old Highway 80 in El Cajon Valley.
Diagram of cross section of wooden flume box from 1913.
Diagram of cross section of wooden flume box from 1913.
As I started up the trail, I looked back. The Helix Water District has a nearby lot with modern pipes and equipment.
As I started up the trail, I looked back toward the parking lot and its big tree. The Helix Water District has a nearby lot with modern pipes and equipment.
Heading up short but steep switchbacks, with rugged mountains in the distance.
Heading up short but steep switchbacks, with power lines overhead and rugged mountains in the distance.
Hikers must stay on the trail due to the historical importance of this area.
Hikers must stay on the trail due to the historical importance of this area.
Looking down toward the pump station and El Monte Road. An old pipeline that ascends from the station is visible in this photo.
Looking down toward the pump station and El Monte Road. An old rusty pipeline that ascends from the station is visible in this photo.
Climbing higher. Wear sturdy shoes if you go on this hike. If it's hot, bring plenty of water.
Climbing higher. Wear sturdy shoes if you go on this hike. If it’s hot, bring plenty of water.
I've gained more elevation on the switchbacks. The hillside is dotted with many prickly pears. That's Hanson Pond in the distance.
I’ve gained more elevation on the switchbacks. The hillside is dotted with many prickly pears. That’s Hanson Pond in the distance.
Higher we climb!
Higher we climb!
A fence conceals an old pipeline that ran from the El Monte Pump Station to the flume.
A fence conceals an old pipeline that ran from the El Monte Pump Station to the flume.
Interesting rock outcroppings.
Interesting rock outcroppings.
A beautiful view of the El Monte Valley below.
A beautiful view of the El Monte Valley below.
A better view of Hanson Pond.
A better view of Hanson Pond.
The climb is over. We approach another information sign where the old hillside pipeline terminates.
The climb is over. We approach another information sign where the old hillside pipeline terminates.
An amazing view of rocky mountains across the valley opens up here.
An amazing view of rocky mountains across the valley opens up here.
Sign describes the struggles to supply water. The open flume had troubles with massive leakage due to rot, and evaporation.
Sign describes the struggles to supply water. The open flume had troubles with massive leakage due to rot, and evaporation.
In 1915, a court ordered Ed Fletcher to repair the leaky flume. He lined it cheaply with asphalt roofing material using a rolling tar wagon.
In 1915, a court ordered Ed Fletcher to repair the leaky flume. He lined it cheaply with asphalt roofing material using a rolling tar wagon.
San Diego County Park Ranger shows a section of wooden flume pipe.
San Diego County Park Ranger shows a section of wooden flume pipe.
The open, wooden flume was eventually replaced with covered conduit and pipe. In 1962, the pump station began to send water to the newly created Lake Jennings.
The open, wooden flume was eventually replaced with covered conduit and pipe. In 1962, the pump station began to send water to the newly created Lake Jennings.
A flag flies near the information sign.
A flag flies near the information sign.
The trail continues along the flume's old route.
The trail continues along the flume’s old route.
Turning a corner, with rugged El Cajon Mountain (El Capitan) in the distance.
Turning a corner, with rugged El Cajon Mountain (El Capitan) in the distance.
Some natural beauty by the hiking trail.
Some natural beauty by the hiking trail.
This is mountain lion country. A sign describes what to do should you encounter one.
Entering mountain lion country. A sign describes what to do should you encounter one.
I spot a third information sign down below, at the end of a short path.
I spot another information sign down below, at the end of a short path.
A short distance from the sign is the entrance to the Monte Tunnel.
A short distance from the sign is the entrance to the Monte Tunnel.
The flume needed eight tunnels along its slowly descending route. The Monte Tunnel was the fifth tunnel from the flume's water source, Lake Cuyamaca.
The flume needed eight tunnels along its slowly descending route. The Monte Tunnel was the fifth tunnel from the flume’s original water source, Lake Cuyamaca.
Diagram on the sign shows the dimensions of each tunnel.
Diagram on the sign shows the dimensions of each tunnel.
The tunnel entrances had decorate facades of cut and mortared local granitic boulders.
The tunnel entrances had decorate facades of cut and mortared local granitic boulders.
The bottom 1887 photo shows construction of the seventh tunnel. Part of the eventually outdated tunnel system was destroyed by Navy SEALS for training.
The bottom 1887 photo shows construction of the seventh tunnel. Part of the eventually outdated tunnel system was destroyed by Navy SEALS for training.
The barred Monte Tunnel entrance photographed during my hike.
The barred Monte Tunnel entrance photographed during my hike.
I took this flash photograph into the tunnel. After the flash I heard a curious low noise, like that of an animal.
I took this flash photograph into the tunnel. After the flash I heard a curious low noise, like that of an animal.
A fourth sign can be found nearby, where the Helix Flume Trail connects with the Lake Jennings trail system.
Another information sign can be found nearby, where the Helix Flume Trail connects with the Lake Jennings trail system.
San Diego residents were thrilled at the flume's completion in 1889. There was a parade and a fountain of water. But it wasn't flume water. There was a blockage somewhere up the line!
San Diego residents were thrilled at the flume’s completion in 1889. There was a parade and a fountain of water. But it wasn’t flume water–it was well water! There was a blockage somewhere up the line!
San Diego's historic water flume was considered such an engineering triumph that it was featured on the cover of Scientific American.
San Diego’s historic water flume was considered such an engineering triumph that it was featured on the cover of Scientific American.
Today little remains of the flume. But the natural beauty of this area in San Diego's East County endures.
Today little remains of the flume. But the natural beauty of this area in San Diego’s East County endures.

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Light, water and beauty at Escondido City Hall.

Escondido City Hall was built in 1988. Its design remains remarkable today. Walk around the stately but welcoming building, and you’ll be greeted by light, water and beauty.

I enjoyed a look at City Hall’s award-winning architecture during my visit to Escondido last weekend. In the past I’ve been able to venture inside, and I can tell you the functional interior is just as spacious and friendly.

You can learn more about the history of the Escondido Civic Center here.

My photos include the large fountain by Grape Day Park and the fantastic open dome at the building’s entrance.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Beautiful public art near Escondido City Hall.

As I walked around Escondido on Saturday, I happened upon some beautiful public art near City Hall.

My first photos show an installation called Circle of Music. The four sculptures, fitted with speakers that play soft music, are part of the larger Monuments to Time in the Corridor of Life, Art and Culture, a series of interactive pieces created in 1998 that extend from the Great Green near City Hall south into Escondido’s city core.

The bright, colorful Circle of Music sculptures were designed by artists Sandra Rowe and Nancy Mooslin. They stand beside the small parking lot directly west of the Escondido City Hall, east of the California Center for the Arts. Approach each sculpture and you’ll hear the unique music that was composed by Steven Stucky.

Two water-like columns are also part of Monuments to Time in the Corridor of Life, Art and Culture, and were created by the same artists. The columns stand like a gateway at the south edge of the Great Green.

A nearby plaque reads: From light flows the sustenance of life…creativity.

Finally, I came upon the Military Tribute.

This memorial completed in 2007 is located north of City Hall, in a spot between the Great Green and Grape Day Park.

A beautiful Wall of Courage, containing plaques that honor those who served, provides a backdrop to three life-size bronze sculptures created by artist Gale Pruitt. The statues are titled Past, Present, Future.

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Amazing exhibition of Japanese washi fiber art.

An amazing exhibition at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park just opened!

As I entered the garden’s Exhibit Hall this afternoon, I and other visitors were welcomed by the smile of accomplished Japanese fiber artist Maki Ishiwata. On display in the nearby glass cases were many of her stunning creations!

Take a look at these photos and you can see how exquisite this art is. Maki told me a little about her craft, and showed me briefly how she assembles washi–traditional Japanese handmade paper–into delicate, subtle pieces that resemble natural flowers and plants. I learned that some of the larger creations can take eight hours to complete.

According to the Japanese Friendship Garden’s website: “…like many crafts, washi is facing a decrease and disappearance of its makers. For washi culture to survive, greater appreciation for the durability, purity, beauty, and versatility of this paper is essential. Through Ishiwata’s art work, she hopes to be able to connect traditional washi and Japanese aesthetic sense to global context and provide a unique experience for people to see an amazing transformation of one sheet of paper through one person`s hands.”

In the following photographs you can see some of the materials that are used, and a poster describing the complex process used to make washi. Kozo (Paper Mulberry) is harvested, the bark is scraped, boiled, snow bleached, wind dried, then soaked and softened…

The beautiful calligraphy in one photo was produced by Maki’s grandmother. Another unusual photo includes a reflection from the glass display case of a tree outside the Exhibit Hall.

This fantastic exhibition at the Japanese Friendship Garden will continue through January 26, 2020.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Beauty by a street artist who vanished.

It has been nearly three years since I’ve seen the street artist who calls herself Tree. I wonder where she is.

Our lives are all in motion. We tumble along down intersecting sidewalks and Time is our wind.

Like colorful leaves, the small, beautiful works of Tree remain scattered about the world.

Fantastic ikebana exhibitions in Balboa Park!

Today I got lucky!

I stumbled upon two different ikebana exhibitions while strolling about Balboa Park!

The first show I enjoyed was being held inside the Casa del Prado. Sogetsu San Diego Branch had filled a large room with many fantastic Japanese flower arrangements.

The Sogetsu School of ikebana originated in 1927. This school of floral arrangement allows for wider individual expression than traditional ikebana, which adheres to formal rules.

According to what I read in a brochure at the show: Sogetsu Ikebana can be created anytime, anywhere, by anyone in any part of the world, and with any kind of material.

You can see in a few of the upcoming photographs that some rather strange materials are indeed used!

The second show I enjoyed was being held inside the Exhibit Hall at the Japanese Friendship Garden. Fantastic arrangements had been created by the Ohara School of Ikebana, La Jolla Chapter.

A friendly artist explained that the Ohara School often creates a sense of natural landscape with flowers and common plants, like grasses, ferns, holly and even garden vegetables! Wide basins and water can enhance the sense the viewer is hovering above a wild garden or beautiful lake.

The careful design of each arrangement incorporates at least one triangle. You can see several of those triangles in my photos:

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Beauty rises after sunset in San Diego.

San Diego is beautiful.

I never grow tired of walking through my city.

This evening I arrived at Waterfront Park right as the sun was setting behind Star of India and the ships of the Maritime Museum.

I walked to the inky bay, then turned south and strolled along the Embarcadero as the sunset slowly faded above the horizon.

I passed the Cruise Ship Terminal and paused near the foot of Broadway Pier to listen to some musicians, and gaze out at the Port Pavilion and USS Midway.

I then turned east down Broadway and quickened my pace as I headed for home.

My camera doesn’t take the best photographs in growing darkness, but I got a few pretty good ones this evening that I’d like to share…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!