Saturday, March 21, 2015

Friday Hike Day: Fish Canyon Falls, Duarte

FREE parking. NO restrooms at all. NOT stroller friendly. REAL risk of poison oak! Trail is VERY narrow and rocky at points. Lots of sun and uphill on the way in.

The good points: adventurous for sure. The falls are a triple decker! And another fall behind the base of the third, for a total of 4 falls at the destination. Easy on the come back, since it's mostly downhill. Interesting, it begins through a working and active rock quarry! You have to pass UNDER a conveyor belt transporting rocks from a mine. 

The falls are gorgeous! The 4th fall has a deep pool, we cliff dived (jumped) into it! Very exhilarating, cold water but fun. Water at the base of the initial falls are fun for playing, splashing and swimming. Rocks can be slippery. fyi. It is *shallow* at the base of the initial falls--great for walking in to get a picture BUT the middle of the *pool* is DEEP--walk around the edges to the fall if you want a picture opp but don't want to swim. The trail is rocky and slippery in parts-use caution. Could work with a little one in a back pack but in NO way with a stroller. It's just under 5 miles round trip so little walkers may get tired.

The narrowness of the trail in spots requires caution when passing other hikers. There are some actual rocky points where you must humble yourself and lean over and hold onto the rock walls to be safe in order to continue the trail.

Trail has informative kiosks giving the history of the trail through the years--was once a very prolific vacation spot with an actual community of residents IN the woods, cabins and everything...until a fire and flood wiped out most of them. You can still see cabin foundations and now over grown areas where cabins once were. Also flora and fauna that were discovered along this trail in the last 100 years and are only located here and a few other areas.

We saw little butterflies, wild flowers, wild herbs, small fish and a frog. Snakes are a possibility given the landscape and environment. TICKS are also a possibility. I suggest shoes or boots, tall socks or pants. I would have worn my hiking skirt due to the temps BUT wore yoga pants instead when I read risk of ticks and poison oak. No one encountered either but better safe than sorry. Other hikers were in shorts.

Bring a towel and/or wear swim suits under. The water is cool and refreshing and the warm temps make it worth it to take a dip. There is no trail beyond the falls--that is the destination and then you return back. The parking lot is a bit tricky, you must drive up into it, beyond Vulcan Mining Co. The trail is fenced off in the middle of the rock quarry. Stay on the path and you're fine.

Only a couple creek crossings, a bridge at the beginning and a few crazy spots of wooden "stairs". 

We rated this one as the most adventurous yet and all my kids LOVED it--especially the cliff diving. 

There IS also a REAL RISK of rock slides/falling rocks. As we were getting ready to leave BIG rocks the size of your hand and BIGGER, randomly started falling from the top of the canyon into the base of the falls. Thank God none of our kids were in the water anymore. There were a few other hikers in the pool and the rocks barely missed them! They got out quickly and we dashed out of there! That was a bit scary. It was like a meteor shower!!!

So, you know, I like to take pix of myself doing a yoga pose in nature. This time, I took off my shoes and socks and stood on a rock that was just an inch in the water, with the falls behind me. As I attempted to get into a pose I know well...graceful me slipped off the rock and into the water.

Apparently I had the same exact thoughts as everyone else, racing through my mind in slow motion...My feet will grasp the next rock and I'll stand up ankle deep, slipped there, ok I will be just knee deep, nope still stumbling--Whoa! There I go, all the way under the water, with my sun glasses on!

Yep, drenched. And NO ONE caught a picture of that!?! I wanted to laugh at myself so hard but at the same time I was shocked that I fell all the way in...the water was cold but not very because once I got out, drenched and dripping, I didn't feel cold at all. My friends and family just stared at me in shock. I was shocked too but laughing. 

The other thing that made this hike memorable was that my 5yo decided he was still too weak to hike. He seemed like he was in good spirits when he woke up but I missed the little clues he was unintentionally giving off as NOT being %100 recovered yet: whiny, emotional and extra ornery. The solution was for me to carry him piggy back style the entire way...just under 5 miles round trip. It was killer and intense. I am usually one of the front hikers but I was at the end, often alone on the trail. Not fun for this extrovert. I seriously had to pray at times as I don't like feeling lonely and this tends to make me feel weak physically. 

Reaching the falls was an awesome and energizing reprieve.  The hike back was easier too as it was mostly downhill but still challenging. We all moved much faster on the return trip. It proves how stress reducing nature and water really is. Everyone was so invigorated after our time at the water. The kids were daring and brave jumping off the cliffs to the murky water below. They felt a bit hesitant at first but eventually most of them took a few jumps. I felt a bit scared standing at the peak but everyone began cheering me on...even the other hikers that were not in our group: Go Mom! Go Mom! How fun and encouraging is that?

The longer I hesitated, the more I could feel fear taking it's grip on me, until finally, I shook it off and went for it. My only regret is that I closed my eyes. Haha. My friend got the jumps on video at least and they are thrilling and fun to watch. This was one of our best hikes so far. 

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