Standing On A Potato Chip

Mount Woodson_Matt_35

It is one of the most prominent peaks in the San Diego region. On a clear day it is visible from most parts of  the County. This is Mount Woodson. It was named after Dr. Marshall Clay Woodson who happened to serve as a surgeon in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War who also became a prominent citizen in San Diego county. He settled here in 1875 on a homstead of 320 acres at the base of this peak. It is located between the cities of Poway to the west, and Romona to the east. There is a trail from either side leading to this 2,855 foot peak.

MountWoodson_36 Matt

On November 22, 2013 Matt and I hiked to Mount Woodson’s peak from the Poway trailhead. While not an exhausting hike, it is a steadily uphill ascent on a well maintained trail. To the top and back it took us about 3 hours over a total distance of 6.5 miles.

Mount Woodson_34 Matt

Upon reaching the peak of Mount Woodson, you stand along with at least eight transmission towers for San Diego television and radio stations. No telling what the effects are of walking through amplified radio frequency waves. Warning signs just tell you not to go beyond the fenced areas. You can hear some of the equipment buzzing and humming.

Lake Poway

The trailhead for the west side of Mount Woodson begins near Lake Poway. It is a dam created lake. Since 1972 it has served as a water supply and recreational spot – although swimming is prohibited. Signs are posted to not allow human skin to come in contact with lake water. Dirty humans cause water pollution! Actually some people and children tend to pee when they go swimming. Not the most desirable ingredient in drinking water.

Mount Woodson Matt_65b

The trail cuts through a thick growth of Chaparral and the mountain is populated with large granite boulders.


Although not a true rival to Joshua Tree boulders, Mount Woodson granite boulders are among the most sought after by rock climbing enthusiasts in San Diego County.


Mount Woodson_8Matt

Mount Woodson Matt_60Mount Woodson Boulders_62Mount Woodson_69Mount Woodson Boulders_110Mount Woodson Boulders_104Mount Woodson Boulders_68

The boulders of Mount Woodson offer an endless array of shapes and sizes for both viewing and climbing.

Mount Woodson Boulders_22

Some unusual ones too. But there is one boulder on Mount Woodson that could be described as world famous. It is…

Matt Potato Chip_11b

…called the Potato Chip. A constant stream of hikers go to it, to experience it, and have their pictures taken on it. It looks risky, but architecturally speaking the cantilever is well supported by the boulder’s mass.

Matt Potato Chip_30Matt Potato Chip_26Matt Potato Chip_17b

Matt_46 Matt_44 Matt_43 Matt_42 Matt_41 Matt_40 Matt_39 Matt_38

Matth observing and reacting to some of the antics of other climbers on the Potato Chip.


If one waits awhile, there will be a lot of antics going on at the Potato Chip.

Potato Chip Girls3

Intrax girls from Switzerland – and one German – on the Chip. Some American fraternity boys came along and persuaded them to take a prank “mooning” photo. The girls said “OK, no problem!”

Potato ChipPotato Chip Boys

Potato Chip View From

Looking down on top of the Chip, and the view.

Mount Woodson_50 Matt

There’s a sign at the parking lot reading “gates lock at dark.” So the return hike was a race against the setting sun. In fact part of the hike was in darkness. Because of my broken arm I gave Matth the car keys to race ahead of me and to drive the car out of the parking lot before the gates closed. Then I would meet him outside. But we met at the car simultaneously – he mistakenly took the wrong trail back to the car. ¬†Fortunately the gates were still open – we escaped without further incident.


Part of my strategy for hosting a foreign student is to teach about American culture. Here is Hooters. Perhaps not considered a sophisticated aspect of American culture, but non-the-less it is a part the culture. Whether viewed as famous or infamous, it’s where waitresses are young with short, tight fitting, cleavage revealing, cheer leader outfits. Its menu of gourmet burgers and comfort foods predictably attracts young males but it also is promoted as a family restaurant-some come to watch popular local sporting events on giant TVs. And in fact there were families with children eating there! I anticipated that an 18 year old Belgian who enjoys the company of pretty girls would enjoy eating here. I think Matth had a really good time.


Matt Hooters
A Hooters photo taken by one of the girls which I thought was “complimentary,” but not when the bill came! But it was appropriate, considering the festive mood, to pay up without regrets for a keepsake anyway.

Matt + Dan Hooters

This was the complementary photo of me and Matth provided by Hooters, taken by the girls. And so ended another very fun day of adventures and creating great memories.

I am Dan Soderberg, award winning documentary film maker and phototgrapher specializing in architecture, historic preservation and nature.

Leave a Reply