Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hike 2011.051 -- Eaton Canyon Falls

Hiked Wednesday, August 10. I squeezed in a quick, short-notice trip back home at the start of the week. Many side stories involved on the timing, but the short version is I had some time, I was already going to be in Memphis, so I burned 50K frequent flyer miles to get a last few days at home before the school year starts. I burned another 50K miles just a week earlier, to get my wife to visit, so many years of accumulation in the Delta Skymiles program have been almost wiped out in just a few weeks. At least I could use them, though--not like the useless USAirways Dividend Miles Program, which have proven impossible to efficiently utilize over the past few years--black out dates, extremely limited seat availability, including on their partner airlines, etc. Totally useless. If given a choice, don't sign up for USAirways. Seems like everyone else has program rules that are easier to actually redeem your miles on.

Because it had been another week without hiking, I kept it close and short. That's how Eaton Canyon got picked.

The wash is now reduced to a thin trickle where the trail crosses it. It's amazing to think that there were days in February or March when the water was absolutely uncrossable there.

Water still flows somewhat heavier under the toll road bridge, however. It still sounds like a river, although obviously the crossings are easy. Good thing, since I was just wearing my high tops.

For a weekday afternoon, the trail was about what I would have expected. When I got to the waterfall, I think there were only 3-4 other people in sight, however. There were also two trash bags, overflowing with trash, at the viewing area. I don't understand why people can't just carry out what they carried in, but at least several someones decided to bring bags, and probably filled them with trash.

I've written this hike up many times in the past, but for any newbies: I started at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center, which is on the east side of Altadena Blvd, just north of New York Avenue. From the 210 freeway, you can exit at Altadena Blvd and head north a couple of miles.

The nature center lot is large, but does fill up quickly on weekends.

From the nature center, walk north, through to the end of the parking lot. Then continue past the gate along the dirt. A few hundred yards after the gate, the trail drops down a bit and crosses the wash, heading slightly to your right as it does. Once on the other side, continue north, making a left when you reach the main north-south trail.

This section of trail is wide and mostly flat. Occasionally, mature oaks provide some shade. Other times, you're exposed, and walking over a sandy trail.

When you reach the bridge that crosses the wash, go under the bridge. A hundred yards or so after the undercrossing, the trail makes the first of several crossings of Eaton Canyon Wash. Now, it's pretty straightforward, though it will require some balance to keep your feet dry.

Just keep heading upstream, on either side of the river, until you reach the waterfall. It's about 1/2 mile from the bridge.

On the return leg of this hike, I got to see another one of those little rabbits that live near the visitor center. I also got a picturesque view of a rising gibbous moon, which I can rarely resist photographing.

Resist the urge to scramble up either canyon wall. It's dangerous to you if you fall, and dangerous to people in the canyon if you knock any rocks down while you're hiking up there.

Shot some video of the falls. For mid-August, it definitely is running strong.

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