5-Peak Challenge

Remembering The 5-Peak Challenge

Photo by Dolwain Green

On the evening of Friday, June 26th, 2020 we processed the 15,000th and final participant of the 5-Peak Challenge! This means that official certificates and logo pins will no longer be issued to those who did not submit their photos prior to the cut-off.


Due to the Visitor Center’s temporary closure, certificates and pins were not available for pick up until late July 2021. If you are one of the more than 1,000 finishers whose certificate and pin are at the Visitor Center, please stop by and pick yours up between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. by December 31. Unclaimed certificates will be recycled and the pins made available to someone else. New certificates will not be issued, but unclaimed pins will be available for sale in the Gift Shop to hikers who show selfies at the peaks.  If you would like your certificate and pin sent to you, MTRP Foundation staff can include them in an online Gift Shop order.

The original goal of the Challenge was to encourage park visitors to experience all five peaks in the park, and not just the ever popular Cowles Mountain. After five years, we are proud to have successfully accomplished that goal.

We hope you will continue to cherish and respect the many wonders of Mission Trails, and challenge yourselves to new adventures.

Happy trails!

Rangers Levi Dean and Heidi Gutknecht, the creators of the 5-Peak Challenge, model the 5-Peak Challenge T-shirts for sale at the Visitor Center Gift Shop and our online store. Preshrunk 100% Cotton – $19.95

The 5-Peak Challenge officially kicked off at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 7th, 2015 with a press conference at the Kwaay Paay trailhead, just west of the Kumeyaay Lake Campground. San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, San Diego City Councilmember Scott Sherman, and La Mesa City Councilmember Kristine Alessio welcomed and honored a group of hikers (who had previously completed four of the five peaks) as they finished their last peak, successfully completing the 5-Peak Challenge.

The first 100 people to successfully complete the 5-Peak Challenge were entered into a drawing for 10 prizes generously donated by REI, Adventure-16 and Lightspeed Outdoors. The winners were presented their prizes at a small ceremony held on Saturday, December 5th, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. in the Visitor Center Theater.

On November 27th, 2015, this group of 16 from L.A., Orange and San Diego Counties, met up through Instagram and completed the 5-Peak Challenge together all in one day!

On November 27th, 2015, this group of 16 from L.A., Orange and San Diego Counties, met up through Instagram and completed the 5-Peak Challenge together all in one day!


Hey Star Wars fans, check out these videos Joel Gaspar made of his friend, Charles Sirl, completing the
5-Peak Challenge:   
Episode I – https://youtu.be/MSJ0qnsL9vU
and Episode II – 

Cynthia Guerrero (with Ranger Chris on right)

Cynthia Guerrero (with Ranger Chris on right) became the 1,000th
person to complete the challenge on January 20th, 2016 – way to go, Cynthia!

Hello, I completed the 5 Peak challenge on July 29th, 2016 and picked up my pin and certificate already as a walk in.  I wanted to send on my photo from the five peaks as I spelled out my wife’s name, a letter on each peak. Our wedding anniversary is this Friday 8/19 and I wanted to do something special for her so I completed the five peaks, literally in her name. I’m an active hiker who lives in LA and hiked the peaks over two separate weekend trips down to Mission Trails.  I thought this was really a great idea when I had heard of it. Congrats on the great work! Steven

Congratulations to the 27 members of the South Bay YMCA Trail Runners, who began at the Visitor Center on Saturday, August 27th, 2016 at 6:45 a.m. and hiked a total of 19.55 miles, successfully completing the 5-Peak Challenge at 1:00 p.m.!

Cindy La Terra, seconds before Ben Savage proposed to her during the “Super Moon”
on Dec. 13, 2016. Congratulations to you both!

Congratulations to Kevin Fontimayor, who on April 2nd, 2017
became number 5,000 to complete the 5-Peak Challenge!

Hey everyone, check out this must-see video!

5 peak challenge in Mission Trails Regional Park, done in 3 days.
Day 1:Kwaay Paay. Day 2: Cowles Mountain and Pyles Peak.
Day 3: South fortuna and North For…

Kelly Johnson completed the 5-Peak Challenge on May 24th, 2017 in style!

June 22, 2017:  My name is Rian William Molumby and I completed all 5 in honor of my student’s birthday, Jason Lyon, who passed away 18 months ago from brain cancer. He impacted all of San Diego with his positive attitude through it all, turning something terrible into a blessing.

Keefe Reuther and his green friend completed all five peaks on June 10, 2017.

Congratulations to this group from Mexicali who completed the Challenge
all in one day on November 12th, 2017!

Sent: Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Hello, my name is Aaron Ruis. The last time I went to the Doctor the scale stopped at 380lbs and that wasn’t high enough to weigh me. Something had to be done so I decided to go hiking with my daughter Soleil Ruis. The 5 peak challenge was our introduction to hiking.

On Sunday, June 17th, 2018 Andrew Asch and his son, Ethan,
celebrated Fathers Day by hiking all 5 peaks in one day!

On July 4th, 2018 Adam Davies and a group of his students from EF International School in Point Loma completed the 5-Peak Challenge all in one day! In doing so, they raised over $1000 for the homeless charity, Father Joe’s, in San Diego. How awesome is that?!

Athena Shudde & Kristi Evans doing the Side Plank on July 6th, 2018.

Submitted on July 17, 2018
Dear Mission Trails Rangers,
Two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer (Lymphoma). I spent over a year getting chemotherapy, until it was determined that I was chemo resistant. The only thing that kept me going was walking. I went from barely being able to get out of bed, to walking to the end of my street, and then I finally was able to walk 15 minutes around Mission Bay.

A year ago a clinical trial open up for which I qualified. It was my last hope. The CAR T immunotherapy seems to have worked. Again walking was my great reprieve. It gave me hope…it gave me strength. I made it up to walking 3 hours in my neighborhood. Still, it was flat. I found some hikes near my house that were pretty flat, and I dreamed one day of doing a “real hike” again.

Then, one of my therapists told me about the 5 Peak Challenge.  I am a teacher so I have the summer off. The first day of Summer Break I attempted South Fortuna, and made it. Over the course of 2 weeks, I made it up all 5. I felt such a rush of accomplishment.

I just wanted to write to thank you all for maintaining such beautiful and challenging trails, and let you know what an inspiration and sense of achievement you provided me.

Respectfully, Lawrence Gediman, Cancer Survivor and 5 Peak Champion

We completed the challenge overnight on August 10th, 2018. We started at 9:00 pm and went a little past 9:00 am Saturday morning. We hiked the week of the anniversary of the tragic downing of Extortion 17 in Afghanistan on August 6th, 2011.  If you’re not familiar with this incident, it was a Chinook helicopter carrying 30 service members and 1 dog, including a large number of Navy Seals.

In honor of these men and to keep their memories alive, we carried the pictures of all 30 men and the dog with us as we hiked the Peaks.  We shot pictures on each peak of all the members of our group as well as each of the men killed when Extortion 17 was taken down. Our goal was to keep their memories alive for another year.

Sent: August 11, 2018.
Me and my coworkers, nurses from UCSD Jacob’s 4th Floor Oncology Unit, completed the 5 peak challenge in under 24 hours. We decided to do the challenge for our team bonding experience and for those cancer patients who cannot.

Congratulations to this hiking group of people age 70 and up, called the “Monday Maniacs,” who completed the 5-Peak Challenge all in one day, on 9-17-18.


                                           CHECK OUT THIS 32-POUNDS LOSS TRANSFORMATION!
Sent: Monday, December 3, 2018
Just like to share these pictures with you. Picture 1 (on left), November 2017, when I just started hiking at Mission trails, I was 156 lbs.! 2nd Picture (on right) is from a couple months ago. Hiking really keeps me healthier and happier.
Thank you, Lanzhi Wang

Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Hello. On Sunday, December 16th, I completed the 5-Peak Challenge. My original plan was to hike the route with a friend, but when he couldn’t make it, I decided to ramp up the challenge. I wanted to see how quickly I could complete the challenge as a continuous course. My total moving time was 03:39:31. I recorded and uploaded my route to Strava [see above]. I’m sure someone could complete this in a faster time, but I wanted to record this route to show what is possible and hopefully inspire others! I had a blast exploring this area, which was totally new to me, and I am so thankful for such an accessible wild space so close to San Diego.
Regards, Sean Marden

Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2018
Hello. My name is Amanda Fowler [on far left]. I moved to San Diego, via military, 4 months ago from Florida. I have 3 sisters, who I’m very close with. I have been very depressed being so far away from home. Luckily by the grace of God, I have linked up with some great girlfriends, with common interests… Hiking. I knew moving here, I wanted to take my hands outdoors, and with my recent weight loss, what better time. We have been hiking every weekend since the first week of October. It is definitely a “thing”. We have had good times, and of course bad, but all and all it’s been great. I have west coast sisters! I am truly blessed. So, after 2 days, and 5 peaks…..San Diego is starting to feel like home. In a painful way. Lol.
Regards, Amanda Fowler

Sent: Monday, January 7, 2019
Our entire family completed the 5 Peak Challenge!  As you can see we already picked up our certificates out of convenience on Jan 4, 2019.  We wanted to thank you for this amazing challenge!  We spent our Christmas break together, as a family, tackling the mountains.  It was our goal for us all to complete and we did so in one week. Our children were so excited to participate, complete the challenge, and receive recognition.  Our family loves hiking!  This was a great lesson for us, but especially our children, that we can do difficult things. It is a challenge with young children, but it is worth it!  This is such a great idea and we challenge more families to participate.
Thank You, The Lindsey Family
Stephen, Wendy, Jared (9), Kara (7), Lara (5), & Maryn (2.5)

On Thursday, January 10th, 2019 mother and daughter duo, Annette and Shelby Bojevsky, were numbers 9,999 and 10,000 to have successfully completed the 5-Peak Challenge! Way-to-go!

To honor and congratulate them on this milestone, the MTRP Foundation gave them each a 5-Peak Challenge T-shirt. The local Adventure-16 store in Mission Valley also generously donated a $50 gift card and a few hiking-related items, and REI donated some hiking items as well.

Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2019
I completed the 5 peak challenge with my 8 year old son. My name is Ji Yang and my son’s name is Jeremiah Yang. I’m only 38 years old but I’ve been dealing with lots of knee and ankle issues so I haven’t been able to walk that far or work out. I saw this challenge and I wasn’t even thinking about taking it on but when I did the first trail with my son I was able to go through it, albeit with some pain towards the end. With a lot of icing and ibuprofen I was able to recover and did two peaks the following two weeks. So we were able to finish 5 peaks in three weeks. I am so proud of my son for being able to finish it with me. And I am surprised and feeling good about my newfound ability to hike long distances when I thought I wouldn’t be able to for a long time.

Sent: Sunday, March 24, 2019
My 3-1/2 year old year old son Rylan (8/14/15) and I started the challenge on February 17th with Cowles Mountain, and climbed the final peak of North Fortuna this afternoon. We both had a great time and he was especially proud for getting up each mountain without his dad carrying him! Thanks for putting this challenge together and taking care of our favorite park in San Diego!
Best, Michael and Rylan Sheehan

Sent: Friday, April 12, 2019
My son, Seth Farnum, completed the 5 peak challenge! This is a huge accomplishment for my son, and for our family, because Seth has autism. In his earlier years, he struggled with many sensory issues, including the sun, and wearing shoes. He’s so proud of himself, and so are we! Seth is 15 years old and now has a love for hiking, and is extremely conscientious about caring for our planet. We purposely take a trash bag on every hike, and pick up trail trash).
Kind regards, Nancy Dorame

Congratulations to Kevin Duong’s friend, Gumgum, for being the first cat
to make it to to all five peaks!


Sent: Thursday, May 16, 2019
Hello! My friend and I completed the 5 peaks of Mission Trails on Sat May 4 for my birthday, which was the following day (Cinco de Mayo). What a challenge!! We both feel very accomplished doing them all in one day, and were so shocked to see a number of people doing the same thing!
Thank you! Cari

Brenda Magsino Pitogo and friend Gabe

Sent: Saturday, May 18, 2019
Hello, my name is Brenda Magsino Pitogo and I can finally say I completed the 5-Peak Challenge on May 18th, 2019. The trails has blessed me to connect with old and new friends. Now, they are on their way to completing the 5-Peak Challenge. This challenge has taught me a lot about myself and to appreciate my hometown, San Diego, which I will be leaving in exactly one month. Thanks to this challenge, I will continue to hike wherever the world takes me. I love you, San Diego and Mission Trails ♥️ Stay beautiful. Also, I am extremely proud of my best friend, Gabe, who completed the challenge with me. He is a lupus warrior! #hiketoendlupus

Thank you for preserving and protecting the natural environment of the park! The 5-Peak Challenge has made a positive impact on my life and will continue to impact more lives.

Osmond Nicholas and Sonya carbajal

Sent: Monday, May 20, 2019
We completed the challenge in one day!!!! 8 hours total time. Oz was diagnosed with stage 4 Brain Cancer (glioblastoma) sept 2017. He couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath. This was a big accomplishment for us, and especially him.
Osmond Nicholas and Sonya Carbajal

Sent:  Thursday, June 13, 2019
I lost 90 lbs (and my beard) over the course of this challenge and met a bunch of great people.
I did the first hike in October 2018, South Fortuna (photo on left), and this month I did Cowles and Pyles Peak (Photo on right). Huge motivation to keep going and make the hikes easier. What a great idea, let’s do more like this across the county!

Thank you!  David Tyler


Sent: Saturday, July 13, 2019
It was a great family mission and was filled with many lessons along the trail — most importantly: Together we can do difficult things and overcome obstacles. We enjoyed exploring new trails and are grateful for the glorious open spaces provided by Mission Trails, the opportunity to spend quality time with my favorite people on the planet and the physical ability to go the distance.
Thank you Rangers Levi and Heidi for creating the Challenge!
Kari B. and Family

Sent: Saturday, March 7, 2020
My husband and I decided to complete the 5-peak challenge with our dog Mac in honor of his 1 year Adoptaversary from the humane society. He has been such a wonderful dog and absolutely loves hiking. We do not know what his life was like before us, but we are happy to give him the life he now deserves!
Thank you so much for encouraging this challenge and helping people get out there and hike beautiful mission trails!
Sincerely, Stephanie Kleiner, Scott Taylor and Mac Taylor

Congratulations to Shawn Chambers, and Diana Lubin, numbers 14,999 and 15,000 to have completed the Challenge on June 26th, 2020.

Date: Friday, January 29, 2021
I know that the 5 peak challenge is over but I thought I’d update you on my health progress. I thought it may be an encouragement to others. Three years ago I completed the 5PC. You featured my story on the website. It took me six weeks and was very VERY hard for me. At the time I didn’t have my weight because my doctors scale didn’t go high enough. I found out I cracked the scale at 414 lbs. After completing the 5PC I made the goal to do it all in one day (along with my daughter again). Yesterday was a major mile stone for me as I completed it nearly 200lbs lighter than on my first completion. 18 miles, 12 hours, nearly 1 mile of elevation gain, 1 day.
In His Service,
Aaron Ruis

As of Friday, June 26th, 2020,
15,000 people have completed the Challenge!
We hope that everyone enjoyed their experience.