Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hikes 2014.063 and 2014.064 -- Monrovia, Thalehaha, and Fish Canyon Waterfalls

After a wet Thursday and Friday last week, I decided Saturday (December 13) would be a great day to check out some of the local waterfalls. My primary target was Fish Canyon Falls, which I had been to a few weeks ago and found completely dry. However, when I reached the parking area at the rock mine, the gate was locked. I figured this meant they were going to make a habit of closing the trail during and immediately after rain. So I decided to go to the next waterfall over: Monrovia Canyon.
Monrovia Canyon is basically at the top of Canyon Drive. There's signage to turn from Huntington on to Canyon (somewhat east of Myrtle, or west of Mountain, both of which hit the Foothill (I-210) Freeway.

Once on Canyon, you can follow the signage right into the park. Or you can do your homework and figure where to park without paying, then walk the extra distance.

Having just come from a locked gate, and not wanting to wind up walking a mile or more for nothing, I drove.

There's a parking area just outside the fee station (which still requires payment of the fee), but it was full. That's really where I wanted to park, since it's a mere three mile roundtrip from here. Parking further into the park would make the hike even shorter.
However, with the lot full, I had no choice but to drive on. So I went ahead and parked at the nature center, from where it's a mere 3/4 of a mile to the waterfall. A little short to be useful for an exercise hike, but, oh, well.

Despite the packed parking lot neare the entrance station and the many parked cars I had passed on the way in, the actual trail was somewhat empty.
Turns out that's because many folks were picnicking in the park, and not hiking. Others (a fairly large number of "others") were shooting a student film in the park, which meant I would only run into them if I ran across their film locale (which, without even knowing they were there, I found).

With the trail somewhat empty, I had a few moments of mostly solitude as I shot pictures of the waterfall. The water was running moderately--I've definitely seen it both higher and lower.

Then I went home for lunch.

After lunch, I again headed to the Fish Canyon Trailhead, hoping that, with a half day to dry out the parking area was now open. But it was still closed.

So now I headed over to Rubio Canyon. I suppose this was a matter of avoiding crowds, since the slightly closer Eaton Canyon fall would certainly be running descently
There were a couple of cars at the Rubio Crest trailhead, but no real crowds, of course. Another car did arrive a bit after me, so I chatted with them on the trail a bit, making sure they stayed on the correct trail for where they were hoping to get.

As expected, the lowest of the Rubio Canyon falls were running, but quite low (Ribbon Rock and Moss Grotto). Not really worth photographing, though if you search my blog, you'll find plenty of pictures of those waterfalls with actual water running.
I initially planned to head back, but when the other group decided to continue to Thalehaha Overlook, I also went that way.

It's a bit of a climb and got my heart pumping.

And, as expected, there was very little water coming down this fall, as well. On the other hand, there were people rappelling down, so that was fun.
After watching 3 or 4 of them complete their descent, I called it a day. Or so I thought.

I did walk back to my car, but then decided to go hit Christmas Tree Lane, as long as I was in the area.

Well, it turned out this was the kickoff for the lighting of Christmas Tree Lane (Santa Rosa Avenue, between Woodbury Avenue and Altadena Drive, in Altadena), so the lights weren't on when I got there, but food trucks, booths, and live music were all to be found there. So I wandered some, walked into the library and stayed warm some, read a bit, then headed out for what I assumed would the be flicking of the switch.
Unfortunately, there was about 30 minutes of entertainment and speeches before the switch was flicked, by which time I was ready to go home. So when the lights turned on, I didn't walk the length of the street was was my plan. Instead, I just walked back to my car and drove home.

When I got home, there was a message on my answering machine at home. Turns out someone had found my cell phone against the curb in the street, presumably where I had parked about five hours earlier. They called the directory entry for "home" in my phone's memory (as well as trying a few other names, including the one that said, "Dad's Cell Phone"), without luck in reaching anyone.
Well, at the time, I did not even realize my cell phone was missing, so I looked in my backpack, and sure enough, the phone was not there.

So I called the person who had left me the message and I arranged to drive right back up to Altadena (about a 25-30 minute drive) and retrieved my phone.

And, suddenly, the night seemed a whole lot better, and the world a whole lot friendlier.

Because it turns out that, during the course of the day, I had run a cross a slew of rude, stupid, and aggressive drivers. One of them was on my way down Christmas Tree Lane.

Because of the big street event at the public library, Christmas Tree Lane had cars parked along much of the road and people walking on both sides of the street. Also, it's a two way street, so you've got occasional oncoming traffic.

So, of course, I'm creeping along at under 25 mph, because I don't want to hit anyone. And, besides, there are cars just up a head, so driving faster than that would only move me about 100 feet further at that speed, before I'd have to slow back down below 25. So what's the point?

But dingus honked several times, though I'm not sure what he thought I was supposed to do about the pedestrian traffic and the auto traffic, other than risk getting a ticket and running people over.

Anyway, that made my cell phone's guardian angel a welcome change of pace. Because, between the road raging drivers and the usual stupid comments you see in the comment section of newspaper articles, sometimes I develop a really pessimistic view of human nature.
Meanwhile, Sunday, December 14 dawned sunny and cool. So, again, the goal was to visit Fish Canyon. This time, the gate was open, and a fairly large number of cars were in the lot. Nonetheless, the trail was still generally uncrowded. There was plenty of time to ogle the views and shoot pictures at my own pace, without having to worry about obstructing the trail.

This was my second trip down the "new" trail, and I'm still getting used to the geometry. The trail is easy to follow. It's just that there are a few turns that I did not remember.

When I reached the end of the trail, there were probably 15 or so folks in the general vicinity. That's a lot more than at Monrovia or Thalehaha Falls, of course, but not much compared to what this place looked like on public access days. So, again, no problem taking pictures without getting too much in anyone else's way.

I'd seen the water higher here before, but, compared to the completely drive falls of a few months ago, this was a really welcome sight.
I took pictures of each of the three tiers of the fall, as well as the fourth, lowest fall, that drops into a deep pool that crazy people occasionally want to jump in to. I also shot some California fuchsia that overlooked the trail and the third falls.

So, the two short hikes on Saturday are collectively my Hike 2014.063--Just under 2 miles for Monrovia Canyon (because I headed a bit downstream after returning from the waterfall, until I ran into the film shoot), and about 1.5 miles for Rubio Canyon (shorter, but with the very strenuous little run up to the Thalehaha Overlook).
Fish Canyon is supposed to be a 5.2 mile roundtrip hike all by itself, and that was my Hike 2014.064.

I've got a couple of other hikes I need to blog still, as the days in the year tick down. Time is running short, so but I do want to manage at least the new hikes I haven't blogged yet, including the series around Lake Meade, from back in January.
Just 15 more days in the year. Reaching 70 hikes for this year looks unlikely, but I do hope to get a few more in this year. The business of the holiday season makes hiking even tougher to manage than during the rest of the year, however. So even if they get hiked, the blogging may become problematic.

Still, I'm enjoying what hikes I can, and still want to keep up withe the blogging.
I've noticed that many of what were my favorite bloggers don't do that, anymore. It's understandable--it's a lot of work to keep it up religiously, and, for most, it's not something you get paid for. I just do it because I love hiking and love taking pictures. For a while, this was the only way to share my travels. It's been a pleasure sharing the hikes, that's for sure.

I guess it's a little early to write an end-of-year post. Oh, well. Happy trails, to you all!

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