Monday, March 21, 2011

Hike 2011.016 -- Eaton Canyon

Hiked Monday, March 21. First full day of Spring, I guess. It rained heavily the night before, and was drizzling as I headed up to Eaton Canyon. Although I suspected I would not be able to make it to the falls, I knew that, if I did, the water would be roaring impressively today.

Parked at the nature center (off of Altadena Blvd, just north of New York) and got on the trail around 10:35am. Headed north, and found the regular trail that crosses the wash interrupted by about 40 feet of rushing water.

A motivated hiker could have crossed there. The water's moving, but it's not moving so fast that it would easily sweep you off your feet. But you would get wet. And it is kind of neat to see the water flowing so quickly at a place that is dry probably eight months out of the year (and little more than ankle deep two or three months out of the year).

I, however, wasn't motivated enough to get wet here. Besides, I was pretty sure that the real barrier would be at the first crossing after you go under the toll road. No sense getting wet here for nothing.

So I continued heading north, looking for a drier crossing option. I finally found a large downed tree that provided a convenient bridge. This was just a bit north of where the Walnut Canyon trail joins up with the Eaton Canyon trail. As for me, I continued north after the crossing for an additional 1/2 mile, going under the toll road bridge and coming to the second crossing of the wash. As expected, this point was impassable.

Last year, when I came here, there was a downed log that provided access. However, that log got pushed out of the way several months ago, so I was pretty sure I would be out of luck. Had I been able to make this crossing, the rest of the way to the falls would probably have been possible. However, here, the water probably is moving fast and deep enough to wash you off your feet, especially if you don't have a walking stick (which I did not). That's why I turned around.

I continued south, past my original crossing point, to Coyote Canyon, which is a short spur of a trail that heads east from the Eaton Canyon Trail. It's the next canyon south of Walnut Canyon.

Made it up to where that trail hits the end of a box canyon, then returned to the Eaton Canyon trail, headed north a bit to my tree crossing, crossed the wash, and headed south, back to the nature center.

On this last leg, the rain got pretty hard. I scrubbed my plans to visit Rubio Canyon and headed on home.

All told, I figured I walked just about three miles. Kind of fun to see the water rushing in Eaton Canyon, so even without making the waterfall, it was worth it.

Hopped in the car and headed home. By the time I got there (about 45 minutes later, since I stopped at a market on the way home), the rain had stopped and sunshine illuminated the San Gabriel Mountains. I could easily see Henninger Flats. No snow appeared there, but the snow line elsewhere seemed to dip down to at least 4,000 feet. If not for the 45 minutes or so of rain, someone could easily have made a great hike up to the snow line today.

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