Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hike 2014.011 -- Sawpit Wash and Rubio Canyon

Hiked Saturday, March 1, 2014. My initial plan was to hike Monrovia Canyon. I had something I needed to pick up a the Best Buy in Duarte, which is right down Mountain Avenue from where my hike there would start. Unfortunately, Monrovia Canyon Park was closed. An overabundance of caution, if you ask me, but such is life.

So instead of starting my hike around 8am, finishing around 10am, then going to Best Buy, I wound up going to Starbuck's, for coffee, breakfast, and to read the paper, then going to Von's for fruits and soda.

Did all of this slowly, as I now needed to stall until 10am.

This meant a very leisurely start to my day. It wasn't until about 10:20am before I was on the road, again. On the assumption that Chantry Flat, Eaton Canyon and Bailey Canyon would all also be closed, I headed instead to Rubio Canyon.

That's the plus of an unimproved trailhead--no gate and no one to stop me from hiking in the rain.

Obviously, there's some risk of "flash flood" and some risk of mudslides. But, since I knew none of my hikes were in the watershed of the areas that burned last spring, I figured the odds were favorable. Also, with the exception of at Grand Chasm Falls, there wasn't anywhere I was going to be where the canyon didn't quickly widen, and I'd be safe from any "flash flood" that did come by.

Obviously, if you hike in the rain, you've got to make your own judgement about what's safe and what's not. Don't take advice from me.

As it was, I saw plenty of evidence of small slides and earth movement as a result of the recent rains. Some of that is visible in the second picture in this post.

The trails in Rubio Canyon are largely narrow, and not nearly as hardened as the other trails I would have taken this day, so I was not surprised to see the erosion. I simply walked carefully, and avoided edges where possible.

The lowest set of falls were doing about what you'd expect in early summer--running, but not roaring. The water did run further down the canyon then it sometimes does, however. That's evidence of some saturation in the riverbed.

That made for plenty of pretty cascades (see the last photo in this post). That also meant a little bit more balancing and boots in water as I made my way up the trail. It wasn't anything to brag about, but it was more water than normally makes it down the river. Part of that may be because the PVC piping that the water company uses to divert some of the flow of Rubio Wash into their covered reservoir had come apart. It's not a huge pipe, and the water isn't exactly gushing through the pipes. But it does add a bit to the creek flow.

One other difference from past trips here was that I saw a few more bolt anchors cemented into place on the rocks. I guess rappelling and climbing types have decided to make their trips a little easier by drilling out places to secure their anchors. I found several at the top of the overlook for Thalehaha Falls, and several anchors between Moss Grotto and Grand Chasm Falls.

I've hiked these falls numerous times in the past. The water is often quite low. Here's a link to a hike with the water as high as I've seen it, yet. Another hike to that area (with views of the falls further up the "trail" are here. Those were both in March 2011. I'm thinking that must have been the wettest of years over the past four. Additional details on the actual hike and the possible trail heads are included in those posts.

By the way, I'm thinking the foliage near the falls is getting thicker, so the falls are getting more obscured as time goes on.

Oh, also, the previous shot in this post is looking over the lip of Moss Grotto Falls.

The distance for the Rubio Canyon hike (to the first falls) is usually given as about 1.2 miles there and back. It feels longer than that.

I figure heading up Grand Chasm and the Thalehaha Falls overlook adds another 3/4 of a mile (and probably triples the degree of difficulty). Even if you're just going to the first falls, however, the trail is somewhat narrow in spots, and you will need to use your hands in places.

I'll call it two miles here, and one mile roundtrip on my unsuccessful attempt to hike up Monrovia Canyon. A short three miles in distance, total.

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