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Taking Tahia to her first waterfall


30-March 2011: It's funny how selective our memories are or how much we take for granted when it's just us two on the trail. All we recalled was that the trail was paved and easy, and there was no reason why we couldn't take Tahia in a stroller this time around when the time came.

But little did we realize that there were parts of the trail where the road was beat up a little, and mud inundated some parts complete with little ponds. Our stroller was taking a bit of a beating, and with the bumpiness of the ride, it must've felt like Tahia was offroading in a 4wd. Julie and I began to wonder if Tahia would even make it to her first waterfall...






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SLOW START
Tahia woke up hungry at around 5am. As Julie and I were busy tending to her needs, I wondered aloud whether this wake-up call was the early start we needed to take our daughter on her first waterfalling excursion.

But being sleep-deprived as we were, Julie was having none of it. And when we were done, all three of us were back in bed some time after 6am and didn't wake up until about 9am.

Knowing how vital it was to get an early start, I was itching to get going, but we still had to finish feeding Tahia, then change her diaper, then get her milk-on-the-go prepared as well as other travel necessities. After all, today was also a test to see how well Tahia could go on a mini-road trip for we were trying to ease her into some of the travelling to more distant places that Julie and I craved.

But such was the nature of trying to bring a child along with us. It was almost like we had to get back to basics. We had to find the easiest waterfall trails we knew of, allocate more time, and bring her along slowly. Those desires of even going to places like Canada or classical Europe seemed so painfully distant. We even had to nix a trip to the Dominican Republic this Summer when we weighed the practicalities and risks (especially with malaria and cholera present).

Anyways, it wasn't until about 11:30am when we finally loaded up the car and left the house.

The drive to the trailhead did seem like it took longer than expected. There was traffic on PCH due to an apparent mudslide that blocked one of the lanes near the erosion-prone cliffs between Santa Monica and Malibu. At least listening to the elite 8 (NCAA Tournament Basketball) kind of kept my mind off the road inconveniences for a bit.

Back at the familiar trailhead Eventually by 12:45pm, we were finally at the trailhead. There was plenty of parking this time (maybe the rain from last night and the threatening clouds this morning might have kept people away) though the sun and blue skies was just breaking through.

I was quick to put Tahia in the stroller while bringing some of the basic necessities with us. But Julie had to take some time to pump, and while Tahia and I were waiting, Tahia started to get fussy. Apparently, she was hungry so I had to return to the car, join Julie, and try to feed her to put her in a better mood for the hike.

Even though Tahia was hungry, she was a very slow milk drinker and spilled quite a bit out of her mouth. It wasn't until 2:15pm when we had finally left for the trail...

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ROCK AND ROLL
Back at the familiar trailhead Despite the late start, it felt good being on the trail again. Normally we would've been out and about looking for weekend hikes earlier in the year, but in trying to raise the daughter, those took a back seat until we were confident in her ability to be a cooperate participant.

For most of the beginning of the trail, it was smooth going. The path was paved as we remembered it, and it was mostly flat. However, both Julie and I were a little out-of-shape so we did feel some of the slightest inclines as we were pushing the stroller.

Back at the familiar trailhead Tahia was between drowsy and wide awake. When she was awake, she would look outside her stroller and see trees and bush flanking the trail. I'm sure they must've been strange shapes and things she had never seen before. She definitely seemed curious about what she was seeing. Julie and I wonder what she could be thinking as she would stare quietly alert taking it all in.

But just as we thought it was going to be a walk in the park, we started to see mud and puddles up ahead. While they wouldn't seem like anything when we were walking alone, with the stroller, it was another story.

I offered to carry the stroller with Tahia in it to keep the wheels from getting stuck in the mud. But we eventually found a way around the worst parts though the wheels did end up caked in mud. I don't think the 4-wheel stroller we used was meant to endure conditions like this.

Traversing the muddy parts of the pathAs we continued further along the trail, there were stretches where the paved path became rutted and in some parts unsealed.

It's funny how selective our memories are or how much we take for granted when it was just us two on the trail. For all we recalled was that the trail was paved and easy, and there was no reason why we couldn't take Tahia in a stroller this time around when the time came.

Heading downhill on a fairly bumpy (for Tahia) stretch of trail But little did we realize that there were these obstacles on parts of the trail (like where the road was beat up a little and mud inundated some parts complete with little ponds). Our stroller was taking a bit of a beating, and with the bumpiness of the ride, I'm sure Tahia must've felt like she was offroading in a 4wd. Julie and I began to wonder if Tahia would even make it to her first waterfall for it was clear we underestimated some of the obstacles we might find.

Further along the trail, we saw other people hiking with strollers, but those strollers were three wheelers and they seemed to have more rugged wheels. I believe those were joggers, and it was obvious to us at that point that perhaps we should've used a jogger ourselves instead of testing our urban stroller beyond its expected operating environment.

At least we were getting reaction from some of the fellow hikers we passed by as they saw Tahia looking cute as always. But one lady did mention that we wouldn't be able to take the stroller all the way to the waterfall so it was a good thing that we brought a baby bjorn along just in case.

But with all the bumpiness of the ride, I think it soothed Tahia to sleep. I was still holding out hope that Tahia would witness her first waterfall.

Eventually, we made it to the familiar site of the burned Robert's Ranch home. And sure enough, we were confronted with steps beyond the house. There was no way we could take the stroller along at that point so after a bit of a discussion, we finally opted to leave the stroller behind and take the sleeping Tahia in the baby bjorn up to the waterfall.

After getting past most of the steps, I started to wonder if taking her along the suddenly narrow trail became a wise move. For one spill into one of the minor drop offs I'm sure could mean Tahia gets seriously hurt or killed.

Or maybe we had to get used to the idea of hazards on the trail and be extra cautious (maybe bring hiking sticks next time for balance). But bringing a two-month-old girl might have been pushing the boundaries a bit on the minimum age of participation...

Solstice Canyon Falls in full flow Nonetheless, all three of us did make it to the waterfall. But it was too bad Tahia won't remember this waterfall as she was still asleep and wasn't in the mood to wake up. So we snapped what photos we could to show Tahia at her first waterfall hopefully one day when she gets old enough to appreciate it. Then, we quickly got out of the danger zone and back to the Roberts Ranch property where we hoped the stroller was still waiting for us.

As tempting as it was to scrambling down towards the stream for a better look at the falls, I decided against it since it certainly wasn't worth risking Tahia's life (even though the falls did seem to flow much more heavily than I had ever seen it before).

At 3:15pm, we were back at the stroller. We took Tahia out of the bjorn and put her back into the comfy stroller ride.

Heading back About 15 minutes later, Tahia briefly woke up to the sound of frogs croaking somewhere in the stream away from the paved path. But with the bumpy sections to traverse again, it wasn't much longer before Tahia fell back asleep.

At 3:55pm, we finally made it back to the car. Tahia started to fuss again, but Julie and I were famished and knew that Malibu Seafood was just around the corner. We looked forward to the meal.

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SAY IT AIN'T SO
Unfortunately when we pulled over right across the busy PCH from Malibu Seafood, Tahia was real fussy again. We knew she was hungry and we weren't going to risk crossing the road by foot. So we spent some time trying to feed and change her before I would go across the PCH solo and order to go while Julie and Tahia remained in the car.

But with Tahia being the grazer that she was, we had to endure yet another marathon feeding. I swore it must've been another 20-30 minutes before I finally got to go across to the Malibu Seafood.

Once I made my move, as I was standing on the island in the middle of the busy highway looking to make the last crossing to the roadside cafe, some folks sitting in the outdoor seats were staring at me. And when I returned the stare, I suddenly realized that I recognized those faces.

Without hesitation, we waved at each other!

After crossing the road, I forgot about taking the order and walked right over to their table. Indeed, it was Stacey, Andy, John, and Lillian along with one of Andy's friends enjoying the food here. Apparently, they had finished an excursion to Escondido Falls earlier in the day, and they even said that they reached the upper waterfall with the assistance of some ropes that were left dangling there. I recalled doing this with my parents a couple of years ago, but Mom and I didn't make it to the upper falls.

Anyways, I was amazed at the randomness of it all. It just so happened that they were going on a hike on a whim on the same day that we decided to just go for it and take Tahia on her first waterfalling excursion.

Once we all got reacquainted (it had been at least 7 years since we all went to Yosemite together and with some of us making it to the top of Half Dome!), it was their turn to make the risky highway crossing so they could see Tahia and Julie for the first time since Tahia's birth.

Eventually after I got my rather expensive order of Ahi Burgers and Fish Tacos, we rejoined the unexpected gathering and mingled with them. Perhaps they were more cognizant of our food getting soggy than we were, but when you're amongst friends in the most unlikely of circumstances, who cares?

After another 20-30 minutes or so of chatting and getting caught up, it was time for all of us to get going as it was getting late in the afternoon. Once Julie and I finished with Tahia's marathon feeding and diaper change, we finally had our soggy food before heading home at 5:45pm.

The drive home wasn't as eventful as this morning, but it still wasn't until 7pm when we made it home. We were certain today's little excursion messed with Tahia's nap and feeding routine. But we ought to be allowed a brief deviation here and there, aren't we?

In any case, it was a struggle but it seemed like taking Tahia along with us on our waterfalling excursions was doable. However, what was once expected to be a 4 or 5-hour half-day affair (including the driving) turned out to be an all-day event. Clearly we'll have to slow things down and be less ambitious if we are to bring Tahia along on our waterfalling endeavors.

Indeed it's back to basics - it was like starting our waterfalling all over again...




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