Mothers Day Orientation

Back at Fish Canyon Falls in 2013 for the first time in 4 years


11-May 2013: So once we found a fairly flat and shady spot near the top of the bottommost tier of Fish Canyon Falls, I was finally able to unsling the baby carrier and momentarily relieve myself of nearly 30 pounds of weight. Tahia was eager to get playing in the water so both Mom and Julie were keeping an eye out on her while shielding her from going over the fourth waterfall.

Meanwhile, we were busy munching on our Chinese breakfast of sticky rice wrap that we had brought with us. I had already gone through one bottle of water so I had to fill up my bottle with a backup bottle that we had brought.

And as much as I wanted to sit down and relax, there seemed to be at least a half-dozen or more wasps or bees swarming about me. Apparently, my orange shirt might have attracted them as if I was a flower to them or something because they seemed to leave everyone else alone. Lucky me...





It was about 6:30am when my alarm went off. But at around 6:15am, I had already gotten up and only a few minutes later, Tahia got up (just before the alarm went off). Her diaper was dry, and that gave me some hope that she might actually be ready for potty training soon.

Julie got up to my alarm, and even though she had done a lot to prepare for today's anticipated hike last night (by preparing and storing Tahia's food), it still wasn't until around 7:20am when we finally left home and headed over to my parents' place. She refused to finish her milk (which we tend to add probiotics and DHA from fish oil) as she left around 3 ounces. So that was a little disappointing.

Anyways, today was a planned hike to re-visit Fish Canyon Falls. My Mom had been eager to visit this hike for a couple of years already, and she had been asking us to take her here on a few occasions this year. So it was finally on Mother's Day, which was this day, that the opportunity presented itself. Hence the alarm, the pre-preparation, and the sense of urgency to get an early start.

At around 7:45am, I was at my parents' place, where Mom got us some Chinese breakfast consisting of hot soy milk and some sticky rice wrapped around some fried you tiao with pork sung. We drank the soy milk, which was really intended to be mixed with a bowl of you tiao and some other things, but since we had to get to the Vulcan Materials rock quarry fearing a long line as well as the heat of the day as the sun was already up, we didn't tarry.

So we took the sticky rice wrap to go, and we were out of my parents' place at 8am. Only Mom went with us as Dad had come back from a business trip in Portland and wanted to sleep in a little more.

At 8:30am, we finally made it to the Vulcan Materials facility, where a security guard registered us and allowed us into the large unpaved car park area. We drove here totally based on memory from our excursion here three years ago, and fortunately, our memory served us well. Even though I didn't remember the street names that we were supposed to take, we just felt our way by getting off the Huntington Drive offramp at the 605/210 interchange, and then turning left when we got to Encanto Parkway, which turned out to be the right way to go.

All of us headed to the shuttle van at the Vulcan Materials Quarry Facility The sun was already starting to really heat up this Mother's Day morning. And with today being Mother's Day, we had expected a crowd or at least a line waiting for the shuttle van to take us a mile through the quarry and to the trailhead for Fish Canyon.

Dropped off at the actual trailhead for Fish Canyon But it turned out that we wouldn't have to wait in a queue, and by 8:45am, we were dropped off at the trailhead.

As we had remembered, the trailhead area was in the shade from the morning sun. However, unlike our last visit here, that shade looked like it wouldn't be long before the sun would even breach this area. Indeed, we had a feeling that we were going to be in for a pretty hot hike, and having to carry Tahia in our Osprey child carrier under these conditions wasn't going to be easy either.

The initial shade at the start of the hike In any case, the two mothers (my Mom and Julie) were ahead of me as we crossed the bridge over Fish Creek and then followed the familiar trail that went right into Fish Canyon itself. This time around, however, with Tahia being nearly 30 pounds now, I felt every switchback or uphill stretch. I didn't recall there being any extensive climbing from our last trip, but when you're carrying that much weight on a hike, you definitely feel it the legs working a little harder for each uphill step.

On the Fish Canyon Trail as we were about to leave the shadowy part And with Tahia on my back, I definitely had to pay a lot more attention to the narrowness of the trail, which were often accompanied by fairly sizable dropoffs. I never recalled being too concerned about the dropoff exposure in the past, but with such precious cargo, I really had to be careful not to trip on a rock and fall into the ravines below.

Mom going between a few stalks of cacti on the Fish Canyon Trail I also had to be cognizant of tree branches or overhanging rocks (not to mention protruding thorns from cacti) as I was virtually taller than I was used to being with Tahia sitting slightly above me. Every once in a while, I would hear Tahia say to me, "Careful!" when it seemed like a twig might have touched or come close to her face.

Julie and Mom going past some more cacti as we continued along the Fish Canyon Trail There were also a couple of fallen tree obstacles in which I had to crawl on one (and make sure not to have Tahia's head hit the tree) and climb over the other.

A very pretty wildflower blooming alongside the Fish Canyon Trail Definitely on this go around on the four-mile round trip hike, there was a lot less shade than three years ago. That really made the hike hotter and harder than before. Plus, the narrowness of the trail often caused us to stop while pepole going the other way would pass by us.

More wildflowers blooming alongside the Fish Canyon Trail Many of the folks going the other way were concentrating on the hike, but more often than not, people would notice Tahia sitting behind me as we waited, and that would draw some greetings and smiles. I don't know what it is with Tahia, but she always seemed to brighten up and induce social interactions whenever she would come with us on local hikes like this. And that made these local hikes (even if they were repeats from the past) all the more worthwhile to do.

Further along the Fish Canyon Trail I recalled one lone hiker going the other way say to us, "You're starting her off early. That's good!" Hopefully, our love of Nature would rub off on her as she would become more aware of herself and her world.

Mom going up a narrow part of the trail soon after crossing Fish Creek The hike itself was a mix of limited shady areas interspersed with pretty lengthy sun-exposed trail on narrow ledges. There were about four interpretive signs in the first half-mile or so of the hike, but after that, there were no more interpretive signs. It was just us and the hike before us.

More wildflowers blooming alongside the Fish Canyon Trail With the presence of cacti, the familiar desert vegetation smell (couldn't tell if it was chaparral or sagebrush), and some blooming wildflowers, we sensed this place might be pretty prone to fires. Apparently, there used to be some 100 cabins that were built in Fish Canyon, but one of the signs mentioned that they were no match for the frequency of floods and fires.

Back at the familiar Fish Canyon Falls in 2013, which had lower flow than when we saw it 4 years ago in 2009 Tahia seemed to enjoy the ride as she was happily singing songs throughout the two miles in. Since she liked to repeat things, her most prevalent thoughts flip flopped between singing Caillou (some cartoon character she noticed on public television and on YouTube on the iPad) as well as singing her ABC's. Interspersed between the songs were her attempts to count to 20, though she seemed to have a habit of skipping the numbers 13, 15, and 17.

Eventually at around 10:05am, we finally started to see Fish Canyon Falls. It started with us seeing perhaps the most prominent third tier from the top, but at first, we couldn't see the rest of the falls. We could tell right away that the falls definitely had less flow than three years ago, but as we continued along the trail, we got to the familiar bend in the trail where we saw all four tiers.

Descending towards the area between the third and four tiers of Fish Canyon Falls Once we saw the full falls again, Julie and I knew that this waterfall would still retain its ranking as the top waterfall we've seen in the Southern California area.

On this trip however, there were quite a few people already at the falls. There were even a handful of folks gathered about a rock perched atop the four (bottommost) tier of Fish Canyon Falls where some folks were already jumping off the rock and into the plunge pool beneath that bottommost tier of the falls.

Mom and Tahia traversing the creek in front of the falls towards a pretty shady and flat spot Once again, Tahia seemed to be getting lots of attention because I guess not many folks would've expected to see a young baby make it all the way to this gorgeous falls.

So once we found a fairly flat and shady spot near the top of the bottommost tier of Fish Canyon Falls, I was finally able to unsling the baby carrier and momentarily relieve myself of nearly 30 pounds of weight. Tahia was eager to get playing in the water so both Mom and Julie were keeping an eye out on her while shielding her from going over the fourth waterfall.

Looking back towards the rock by the top of the bottommost tier of Fish Canyon Falls where onlookers and eager waterfall jumpers were perched Meanwhile, we were busy munching on our Chinese breakfast of sticky rice wrap that we had brought with us. I had already gone through one bottle of water so I had to fill up my bottle with a backup bottle that we had brought.

And as much as I wanted to sit down and relax, there seemed to be at least a half-dozen or more wasps or bees swarming about me. Apparently, my orange shirt might have attracted them as if I was a flower to them or something because they seemed to leave everyone else alone. Lucky me.

While Tahia was busy entertaining herself in the water playing with wet rocks and twigs, I was entertaining myself watching some folks jump off the rocks above the fourth tier of the falls and into the pool below. I must've seen at least 6 people do it, including one woman who was really hesitating while getting encouragement from her friends.

Fortunately, nobody was injured in any of the jumps that we saw.

And as we were chilling out in the falls area, I couldn't help but notice how many more people were making their way to the falls as well. Indeed, there must've been at least some 40 or 50 people at the falls, and quite a few of them couldn't wait to get into the water to cool off from the hot (possibly 90F) day.

Starting the hot hike back to the trailhead At about 11am, we finally started to leave Fish Canyon Falls. Tahia made quite a loud protest as she didn't want to leave the water. But in any case, we had to make sure that she got her afternoon nap so we could come back to our parents' place later in the evening on time to formally celebrate Mother's Day as a family (grandparents, brother's family, and all).

On the hike back out, there was definitely less shade as we had expected. So it was certainly quite hot, and we couldn't imagine doing this hike any later in the day or even later in the season.

Julie up ahead negotiating the narrow trail back to the trailhead This time on the hike out, Tahia was occupying herself by repeating the words "spider monkey" over and over again. I tried to exploit her short attention span by getting her to sing Caillou again, but she wouldn't let go of "spider monkey."

After around some 45 minutes or so on the hike back out, it was quiet all of the sudden, and one look at the rear-view mirror and I could see that Tahia was knocked out and napping.

Near the trailhead, we passed by one employee in uniform who was headed the other way. He mentioned that he was responding to a call about a rattler, and so I guess it was his job to go there and help move it away from people so there wouldn't be an issue with rattlesnake bite poisoning.

At 11:55am, we were back at the Fish Canyon trailhead where we were awaiting the shuttle back to the main car park area. Unlike three years ago where it was quite crowded here, it was only us initially before we were joined by a Chinese group of six folks probably in their 30s.

When the shuttle van pulled up, everyone got in, we kept Tahia in the Osprey child carrier while carefully loading her in the van, and we were off.

The driver greeted Tahia since she was practically sitting where there was space next to him. And we engaged the driver with some Spanish since we told him that she was pretty familiar with Dora.

Finally back at the car park as the day was really heating up At 12:05pm, we were finally back at the car. It was kind of surprising (especially considering it was Mother's Day) that we were the only ones by the shuttle area except for a handful of private security employees watching over the area. I remembered three years ago when there was a very long line waiting to board the shuttle van to get to the trailhead. But on this day, it was pretty quiet.

We were told by one of the folks working here that a month ago, there were 650 people! So perhaps the crowds had more to do with coming here in the cooler months of March and April as opposed to May, which did seem pretty late into the season for Fish Canyon Falls.

Anyways, once we were all settled in the car and its comforting AC, we were ready to roll. Tahia was awake once again, and this time she got her Mums as we had promised her earlier in the morning. However, she didn't finish her milk so I guess some of that stuff went to waste since it had probiotics and DHA oil.

At 12:40pm, we were finally back at the parents' place where Julie nuked Tahia's lunch, and then fed her in the car on the way home. We'd be back here after Tahia's afternoon siesta to really celebrate Mother's Day as one big family.

And that's our idea of how Mother's Day should be...




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