"Ladybugs of the Heart" (Heart Rock Falls - May 20, 2017)

The familiar Heart Rock FallsThe familiar Heart Rock Falls


20-May 2017: I eventually scrambled up to rejoin Julie and Tahia where they were snacking on broccoli chips. As we were snacking up here, we were suddenly inundated in an insect swarm. It was quite a surreal sight as it appeared as if there were light specs moving about in the shadows like fireflies in the day time. At first I thought it was perhaps a big bee or wasp swarm as I had seen these in the past (fortunately without consequence). As some tried to fly into my nostrils, I kind of knew that they couldn't be bees or wasps as they'd be a bit too big to pull stunts like that.

A lot of people thought this swarm was of mosquitos, which prompted quite a few of them to start leaving. And it was true that there were some mozzies amongst this insect swarm as I saw one hovering around Tahia's hand. But it was clear from the thickness of each of the individual specs in this swarm that they couldn't have been mozzies (since they're usually adept at being stealthy and unseen).

Upon closer inspection of Julie's shirt and hat, which had about a half-dozen or so of these insects crawling on her, I came to realize that this swarm...






Julie and I decided last night that we ought to do a local hike on this Saturday since it was shaping up to be a pretty hot weekend and we didn't want to feel like we wasted it without doing anything. Now it had been a while since we last had significant rains back in the February and March time frame, which actually had caused some leaking and water intrusion problems at home, but we also didn't trust that the waterfalls to the west were going to perform, especially since it had been nearly two months without significant rain.

And so it was decided to shoot for Heart Rock Falls today. After all, it had been about 7 years since we last did this waterfall, and Tahia had yet to see the enigmatic heart-shaped depression right next to the waterfall. Besides, we had recalled that this was one of those waterfalls that wasn't terribly crowded like Eaton Canyon Falls or Sturtevant Falls, so our anticipated late start to the day shouldn't be that bad of an issue, we thought.

Well, after having a delicious home-cooked breakfast and making some home-made kefir with raw milk that you could only buy at Whole Paycheck (that was our code for Whole Foods) while loading up the dishwasher, we were able to get our stuff together and leave the house at 9:30am. It seemed like we were getting more and more efficient with our morning weekend routines as in the recent past, it wouldn't have been until nearly 11am or later when we'd finally leave the house!

As expected the drive east towards the Inland Empire was a little on the heavy side in terms of traffic, but at least it was moving fairly well. There was a little bit of a deja vu feel to this drive as we knew that this stretch of freeway would eventually join up with the I-10 east towards the High Deserts, where we had been to Palm Springs twice this year already. On this go, however, we wouldn't be taking the 10.

As we got into the Riverside area, the pace was quickening, and by the time we made it way out to the 215 freeway, and then to the 210 freeway, it wasn't long before we got onto the Hwy 18 towards Crestline. The highway was mostly two lanes in each direction, and for the most part, people were keeping right except to pass like they should.

With the exception of some tricky curves (especially given the high rate of speed on the Hwy 18 as the speed limit was around 55mph), it was a pretty smooth drive. We'd eventually get to the familiar bridge and exit where we got off the Hwy 18 and then onto the State Hwy 138, which was more like a mountain road through the community called the Valley of Enchantment. There was one little confusing intersection where we had to go left just after passing another larger intersection across oncoming traffic (and there were no stop signs at this spot), but other than that, we eventually got back to the familiar Camp Seeley turnoff just as we had recalled twice before.

This time, the parking lot for Camp Seeley was blocked off, but we knew to go left before that parking lot, then past the concrete ford, and eventually to the trailhead. But this time, there were signs saying "Heart Rock Trail" with arrows pointing left before the parking lot for Camp Seeley. I guess this place was getting pretty popular as we had never recalled seeing these signs before.

Anyways, also in the past, we'd stop by some unmarked trailheads near some sewage pipelines to get started on the hike. But this time, we decided to continue following the paved single-lane road to see where it went. After a short uphill section, it eventually dead-ended at a gate with some parking spaces where at least eight cars or so were already parked here. We figured that this was the official Heart Rock Trailhead, and I guess after all these years, we were finally starting from here. It was about 10:45am when we arrived so the overall drive of about 75 minutes didn't seem too bad.



I guess we might have inadvertently extended our hike all these years, and perhaps that was why Ann Marie Brown wrote that this was a two-mile round trip hike (one mile in each direction), when it could very well have been much shorter than that. I guess we were about to find out just how much shorter this hike was going to be.

It took some time for Julie and Tahia to get ready for the hike. As I was busy taking photos of the trailhead area while waiting for them, I apparently picked up a couple of mosquito bites as I must have been a sitting target. I wasn't expecting mozzies out here, but perhaps having them around shouldn't have been surprising since it was now pretty late in the Spring was most of the snow was probably gone and there must have been more areas of standing water for the mozzies to breed.



So it wasn't until about 11:05am when we were finally getting started with the hike. It started off descending from the trailhead parking and towards the familiar trail near a dry swimming pool that obviously belonged to the neighboring Camp Seeley. But that pool was the last of the Camp Seeley structures that we'd be seeing (unlike the previous times we've done this hike where I recalled hiking alongside quite a bit of Camp Seeley structures and fencing).

It then didn't take long before the trail was mostly under the cover of tall trees providing pretty decent shade that made me feel as if wearing the legionnaire-style hiking hat on wasn't necessary. However, the trail seemed to be quite a bit more eroded than I remembered as there was a little more minor up-and-down rocky stretches when before it seemed like the trail was pretty flat and straightforward. Perhaps my memory was failing me after seven years.



The trail also was flanked by rocks with graffiti. One of the graffiti marks was like a trail marker pointing the way to continue on the trail. It was as if someone tried to disguise the unsightly graffiti as some kind of helpful cairn or something, but it was a pretty pathetic attempt at that since it was in a pretty unnecessary spot. There was also another more artistic one where a rock on Seeley Creek (which the trail followed alongside) had a drawing of an anatomical heart on it. I wondered if this artist tried to throw you off by making you think this was supposed to be the Heart Rock, perhaps?.



Anyways, it was about 11:30am when we saw quite a few people gathered about rock outcrops, where we knew from memory would be the viewing spots to look down at the waterfall and the namesake heart-shaped depression next to it. So we wasted no time going down towards the people, and sure enough, we were at the familiar informal viewing spots. We made it here sooner than I had anticipated, and so I knew for sure that this was not the two-mile hike that we had thought all these years. I kept it in my head that I was going to check the GPS logs when I get home to see how far we've hiked.



Like before, the view from these rock outcrops with sheer dropoffs around us induced butterflies. We kept a close eye on Tahia to make sure she wouldn't do anything stupid, but it did seem like she already had a healthy fear of heights as she made a comment saying something to the effect that she had some tingling in her tummy.

Unlike the previous times that we've been here, this time, there was hardly a cloud in the sky. So there were a lot of bright rocks surrounding the falls but the top part of the falls was in shadow, which made photography a little on the tricky side. While Tahia thought the heart-shaped depression was pretty cool, it didn't take long before Tahia's mind was on getting closer to the waterfall. So not much later, Tahia and I led the way further down the trail leading to the base of the Heart Rock Falls. Then, a few minutes later, Julie joined us.



Down here, we were treated to a pleasant view of the slanted waterfall while standing adjacent to nearly vertical cliffs that we had been standing on just moments before. Tahia took the opportunity to dip her hands and her hiking boots in the water as she was eager to at least interact with the waterfall as opposed to gawking at it at the top.

After observing a couple of people scramble to get closer to the heart-shaped depression next to the waterfall, I decided to get up there myself. But when I scrambled to the brink of the waterfall, I couldn't figure out where I was supposed to scramble to in order to get to the heart-shaped depression as the scrambling looked quite dicey. As I was looking back towards the fringe of the pool where we were just at before I made my scramble, Julie and Tahia had already gone back up to the rock outcrop where they appeared to be snacking.



I eventually scrambled up to rejoin Julie and Tahia where they were snacking on broccoli chips. As we were snacking up here, we were suddenly inundated in an insect swarm. It was quite a surreal sight as it appeared as if there were light specs moving about in the shadows like fireflies in the day time. At first I thought it was perhaps a big bee or wasp swarm as I had seen these in the past (fortunately without consequence). As some tried to fly into my nostrils, I kind of knew that they couldn't be bees or wasps as they'd be a bit too big to pull stunts like that.

A lot of people thought this swarm was of mosquitos, which prompted quite a few of them to start leaving. And it was true that there were some mozzies amongst this insect swarm as I saw one hovering around Tahia's hand. But it was clear from the thickness of each of the individual specs in this swarm that they couldn't have been mozzies (since they're usually adept at being stealthy and unseen).

Upon closer inspection of Julie's shirt and hat, which had about a half-dozen or so of these insects crawling on her, I came to realize that this swarm consisted of ladybugs!

This ladybug swarm was definitely something we had never experienced before, and who knew that it would be the benign ladybugs that would be the perpetrators? Who would have thunk that ladybugs could be so pesky?

Perhaps what was an even stranger thought was what on earth could cause them to swarm in this way? What was favorable in this area for this to occur?



Well, when the swarm somewhat died down, we started to hike back at 12:20pm. The hike back was pretty much uneventful though Tahia drew the attention of a senior women hiking group of six who had a short conversation with her. Tahia melted their hearts by the way she said softly "Hi" to them, and even more so when she was complimented for her sweetness and she responded with a soft "Thank you".

By 12:40pm, we eventually made it back to the car. But just as we were making that final ascent, there was another occurence of the ladybug swarm. So we hastily got back to the car and closed the side doors so they wouldn't be flying in the car. But that also meant that Tahia and I were sweating bullets while Julie was taking her time taking off her hiking boots and getting stuff together in the trunk while she wouldn't let me start the car and turn on the AC.

It was already pretty warm up here, but with the greenhouse effect of the car doors closed and windows up (to keep more ladybugs from coming in), it was even more uncomfortable.

Anyways, we were finally on the move ten minutes later, and we routed over to the Chipotle in Rialto, which was the closest clean-eating spot that Julie thought of. I guess our King Taco days were somewhat numbered as we'd usually think about going to one of these out here in the Inland Empire. We used to go to the KT at Rancho Cucamonga just a year or two ago before Julie had her gut issues.

We'd eventually be at the Chipotle at 1:25pm, and boy was it hot out there. It seemed like Summer had already started a month early, and it was definitely in the 90s out here. It was forecasted to be even hotter tomorrow and peaking on Monday. I'm sure not looking forward to going to work under the anticipated heat wave, where I would have to do a lot of walking between buildings as well as to and from the train stations.

By 2:10pm, we were back in the car, and we'd eventually be back at home at 3:35pm after a lot of sluggish traffic on both the I-15 and the 91 freeways. So it took us nearly 85 minutes just to drive from Rialto to home, and that didn't include the 35 minutes it took to get from the Heart Rock Trailhead to Rialto. Compare that cumulative 120 minutes to the 75 minutes it took for us to drive from home straight to the Heart Rock Trailhead, and the roughly 45-minute difference could all be attributed to the sluggishness of traffic.

Indeed, when you quantify things this way, it definitely gives you an idea of just how much of our lives would be wasted in the car sitting in traffic. Imagine doing this on a day-to-day basis as part of the daily commute to and from work. But perhaps more ominously, it made me not looking forward to the potential of driving the I-15 over Memorial Day Weekend towards Vegas and beyond...




[Back to top]

RELATED PAGES



Have a waterfall travel story you'd like to share?



[Back to top]

[Go to the California Travel Blog Page]

[Go to the California Page]


[Return from "Ladybugs of the Heart" (Heart Rock Falls - May 20, 2017) to the World of Waterfalls Home Page]