Friday, May 20, 2011

Hike 2011.036 -- Hermit and Sturtevant Falls

Hiked Thursday, May 19. I had only been to Hermit Falls once before, so I figured I was over due. Parked at Chantry Flat (top of Santa Anita Avenue) and pulled out my Adventure Pass. Headed down the paved "trail" for .2 miles, until the sign for the Hermit Falls/First Water Trail. The sign says it's 1.2 miles from there to Hermit Falls.

This is a steep trail, obviously dropping more feet than the paved trail towards Sturtevant (because you're meeting the water well downstream from that junction. It's generally a well-defined trail, although with foliage encroaching somewhat in spots. As you near the stream, there's a signed junction that directs hikers only towards the base of a retention structure, or horses and hikers in the other direction. The hiker path is more direct.

Either way, you cross the water near here, and then (if you're going to Hermit Falls), continue down-stream from there. A sign indicates 3/4 mile further to Hermit. There's a thick carpet of green vines and shrubs in this area and it looks very un-southern Californian.

Also a few cabins in the area, same as they are further to the north.

After about 1/4 mile, the stream approaches a pond behind another detention structure. The trail crosses to the right side of the stream here, and climbs somewhat. The final bit is a slight decline to a rock outcropping.

Hermit Falls is nearly entirely shielded from view by these rocks. The best view I could manage was after going down somewhat towards the water, just downstream from the pool. That's the picture at the top of this post. The picture here is looking down over the lip from above.

Much of the large pool within the alcove at the bottom of Hermit Falls is also shielded, and can only be seen by leaning precariously near the edge of the rocks, or jumping off the rocks completely.

Here's a shot looking down towards the pool. Three women down there provide some idea of the scale and distances involved.

Yeah, a lot of people jump off the rocks and into that alcove. Not me. I get nervous just leaning over.

Seems like it's a 2 second drop or more, which means 50 feet or so. Larger divers make a very loud splash. But, because of the rocky protrusion, you can not easily see people landing from the top.

For those who do dive (and I am not recom-mending this), there's a rocky cliff with several thin ropes tied around trees and roots, just downstream from this outcropping. Climbing back up this route is no easy task, although obviously nearly everyone who jumps into the pool eventually makes it back up.

I carefully climbed down to closer to the water line. If there weren't so many people jumping off the cliff, I might have tried getting closer to the outlet of the pool, which might have given a better view of the actual waterfall. But I didn't want to intrude too much on the divers, and, in fact, if something disastrous happened to a diver, I didn't want to see that, either. Yeah, I'm a big chicken.

Climbing back up seemed harder than going down, which is somewhat unusual. It didn't help that I slightly twisted my ankle on the hike to the overlook, so I had to move gingerly. Also, the ropes here are much thinner and more worn-looking than the ones in Rubio Canyon, so, even more so than in Rubio Canyon, I tried not to put too much weight on the ropes. Although people taller and less overweight than me would have an easier time of this, I imagine most hikers will be satisfied with just peeking over the edge at the alcove below.

After leaving Hermit, I headed upstream, along the First Water trail. Where the Hermit Falls trail makes the stream crossing and heads up the canyon wall, I continued along the water. I soon reached an amusing place with a water crossing and sign warning that only one person should be on the (non-existent) bridge at a time.

Another water crossing, and I eventually met back up with the trail to Sturtevant Falls. Not entirely sure about the distance, but you meet back up right where the paved trail from the Chantry Flat parking lot levels out. It's right after the bridge that crosses Winter Creek. There's a couple of signs at this junction, indicating directions and/or distance to Chantry Flat, Sturtevant Falls, and the First Water and Winter Creek trail destinations. It's 1 1/2 miles from here to Sturtevant Falls.

I headed up to those falls, took a few pictures, then went back to my car. So figure 3 miles roundtrip from the junction to the falls, .6 miles from the junction to Chantry, 1.4 miles from the parking lot to Hermit, and that's 5 miles, plus the distance from Hermit to this junction. I figure this puts it in the 5.5 to 6 mile range for the day.

Still a nice variety of flowers in bloom. Some I recognize (not all of which I photo-graphed) included Indian pink, primrose, larkspur, periwinkle, Himalayan blackberry, and buckwheat (both reddish buds and whitish blooms), plus many I did not recognize.

If I head back down here again, I'll spend more time "down below" and take some pictures looking up at the cliff for more perspective on the dimensions of Hermit Falls.

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