Recovery By Waterfalling

The Robert's Home at Solstice Canyon Falls


13-April 2014: Mentally, I thought that we might actually make it to the trailhead for Solstice Canyon by about 10 or 10:15am, but at around 9:50am (just as we were approaching Temescal Canyon Rd), Tahia all of the sudden started crying in the back seat. When Julie and I asked what was wrong, she said her tummy was hurting.

Since we were on the winding roads of PCH, finding a convenient place to pull over wasn't trivial. So we kept forward hoping perhaps to find a plaza or fast-food restaurant to stop at to see what was going on. But moments later, Tahia started puking. And it seemed like she was heaving quite a bit of stuff.

With no one in the back seat accompanying her, she had no choice but to let the smelly mushy stuff get right on her clothes, the child seat, the seat belts, and even the stuff on the floor like my camera and the floor mats. Now, the sense of urgency to find a place to pull over safely was even greater...





On this day, we anticipated going to do Solstice Canyon Falls after last week's experience might have been a bit much for Tahia to do on her own (with our supervision of course). Last week, Eaton Canyon was perhaps a bit rough, especially given the high heat and us underestimating the amount of water to bring. It was a good thing we brought the child carrier for that hike because it actually saved us some water (Tahia drank most of our supply when she was walking on her own) when I carried her for about two-thirds of the round trip hike.

So Julie and I figured that Solstice Canyon should be much easier and that she should be able to do it on her own, especially since she did Paradise Falls on her own two weeks ago. Besides, we took a stroller there three years ago since it was a pretty tame hike in our recollections.

We eventually left the house at 9:10am, which was actually pretty early considering we had been leaving late in the morning the prior two weeks. But in this case, we knew that parking might be difficult as the parking situation at Solstice Canyon seemed to have gotten worse over the years.

Being that it was Sunday morning, the drive went pretty smoothly as we drove the freeways towards Pacific Coast Highway bound for Malibu. We were a little worried about the 10 westbound ramp being closed (as the signs had stated) from the I-5, but it turned out to not be true (whew).

Everyone seemed to be in a good mood (at least as good as it could be at the time). Julie had contracted Tahia's pink eye earlier last week but it seemed to be on the mend for her. Tahia's pink eye was pretty much all but non-existent, but we had to be vigilant about her washing her hands and keeping them out of her eyes.

Mentally, I thought that we might actually make it to the trailhead for Solstice Canyon by about 10 or 10:15am, but at around 9:50am (just as we were approaching Temescal Canyon Rd), Tahia all of the sudden started crying in the back seat. When Julie and I asked what was wrong, she said her tummy was hurting.

Since we were on the winding roads of PCH, finding a convenient place to pull over wasn't trivial. So we kept forward hoping perhaps to find a plaza or fast-food restaurant to stop at to see what was going on. But moments later, Tahia started puking. And it seemed like she was heaving quite a bit of stuff.

With no one in the back seat accompanying her, she had no choice but to let the smelly mushy stuff get right on her clothes, the child seat, the seat belts, and even the stuff on the floor like my camera and the floor mats. Now, the sense of urgency to find a place to pull over safely was even greater!

With Tahia crying in the back seat again as she didn't like the feeling of having the mushy stuff all over her while the smell really bothered her, we finally pulled over at the Union 76 corner by Sunset Blvd. And so for the next 30 minutes, Julie was busy changing Tahia's clothes (learning the lesson from the last time Tahia puked in the car from car sickness) and I was busy removing the soiled car seat coushins while trying to use the baby wipes to get rid of whatever puke that I could reach.

Needless to say, it was gross. I also had given up hope that the parking situation would be in our favor with this 30-minute delay. Funny how we were making such good time, but something unforeseen like this changed all that.

So it wasn't until 10:20am that Tahia was all changed, Julie took some time to rinse off the soiled car seat and Tahia's clothing (knowing we'd still have to do laundry straight away when we got home), and we continued north on PCH.

Eventually by 10:40am, we turned off onto Solstice Canyon Road, and I didn't even bother going into the main lot as I saw at least three cars in front of me pull in. So without hesitation, we drove up the winding road up to the next parking area, which was also full. However, there was some space for pullout shoulders, and we immediately capitalized on those while making sure we weren't too close to the two-lane road while also not too close to the dropoffs.

Looking down at PCH from our further-than-usual parking spot And with that, we got out of the car, got ready to go hiking, and even were encouraged by Tahia seeming to be in a much better mood than she was when she had puke all over her.

As we were busy walking along the road down to the main turnoff for the car park of Solstice Canyon, I took advantage of this opportunity to get a little bit of a birds eye view of PCH and the ocean. I guess this was one benefit of having to park another 1/4-mile further from the turnoff (and another 1/4-mile more to walk all the way to the official trailhead from the turnoff).

Tahia and Julie walking along the road back down towards Solstice Canyon Trying to stay off the road as much as we could as we walked down towards Solstice Canyon The turnoff for Solstice Canyon was now within sight at the bottom of the hill

Still, Tahia took it in stride, and she was doing great keeping up with Julie while I was behind them taking photos of the whole experience. We still had to keep a watchful eye as vehicles attempting to park in the main lot would come in and out (either lucky or frustrated) and we were somewhat glad to not have to deal with this drama even though we had to walk a little bit more.

Julie and Tahia going by the official car park and building After getting past the main gate at the larger car park (full of course), we then made a quick stop at the toilets where Tahia observed that these toilets didn't have a "button" to flush the toilet. No indeed, these toilets were pit toilets, but Julie and I were surprised at how observant Tahia was as she had assumed toilets had running water and could always be flushed when finished doing the deed.

Julie on the trail to Solstice Canyon Falls Onwards we went as the marine layer clouds were quickly burning off and becoming hazy. The sun wasn't intense enough to warrant extra sunscreen (at least I didn't put any on), but we did put it on Tahia as a precaution.

Some people that went past us on the Solstice Canyon Trail And as we had recalled from before, this part of the hike was all paved and pretty easy going. Tahia had a tendency to lag behind a little bit as she was easily distracted by the sounds around her. At first she thought the bird songs came from monkeys, but she eventually figured out (with some verbal coaching from us) that monkeys didn't exist here.

Other people zooming past us on a sun-exposed part of the Solstice Canyon Trail She also commented that "it's quiet here." Julie and I smiled as that was precisely the reason why we go on these weekend hikes.

After getting by the TRW picnic area and passing by some more spur trails (I'm still not sure where they go since we had never gone on detours there), the trail turned and went on a mix of pavement and unpaved parts. The surface of the trail seemed to be a little rougher than what Julie and I remembered, and I wondered how we were able to bring Tahia's stroller her three years ago.

Closer look at what was left of the Keller House Eventually, we reached the Keller House. This time, we saw an unused bridge that had a tree fall over it that wasn't there before. While Julie and Tahia kept moving on, I decided to go over the sturdy bridge and check out the old stone and tin house from closer up this time (something I had never done before). A sign here said it was destroyed in the 2007 Corral Fire, but I swore that it had been in bad shape even before that fire. Perhaps it used to have a roof and that was what disappeared. All that was left standing were the stones and chimney bricks that were more resistant to fires.

Tahia trying to catch up to mommy When I caught up to Julie and Tahia, we had the familiar choice of going uphill on the left along the continuation of the driveway to the Robert's Home, or take the right path that was rougher but flatter. We opted to go left and up the hill, and in hindsight, it might not have been a good move because after several minutes of what seemed like longer than anticipated uphill and downhill undulations, it seemed to have taken a bit of energy out of Tahia.

She did ask on a couple of occasions for me to carry her, but we took for granted that this was an easy hike so we didn't bother bringing the child carrier.

Nonetheless, Julie remarked that this hike was longer than we had remembered in years past, but perhaps that was more because memories tend to fail us as time goes on.

Back at the familiar Roberts Ranch Home going up a stair-stepped terrace at the Roberts Ranch Home Back at the familiar Solstice Canyon Falls though it wasn't doing so well in April 2014

Whatever the case, we ultimately returned to Solstice Canyon Falls at 12:05pm. Perhaps our recollections weren't that far off because our hike took 90 minutes, which was way longer than this hike would usually take.

Vertical look at the thin Solstice Canyon Falls Anyhow, we went through the old Robert's Home which now only had 4 chimneys standing with lots of overgrowth around its terrace area. Right behind the house remnants, the trail got rough real quick (even rougher than what Julie and I recalled from before) as we helped Tahia make it up to the base of the tiny Solstice Canyon Falls.

The falls had very disappointing flow for Spring, but we knew that California was in the grips of a serious drought. Julie and I even concurred that our late Summer visit in 2012 had more water then than it did now in the Spring of 2014. I guess that just demonstrated how fickle waterfalling in So Cal could be as rainfall patterns were really about feast or famine year over year. And for the last two or three years, it had been famine.

Frontal view of what was left of Solstice Canyon Falls Tahia seemed to have aspirations of embracing the rough climbing and doing it on her own without our help, but we had to make sure she didn't take a nasty (possibly fatal) fall over the dropoffs here so we kept a real close eye on her when we let her have her way in moments, but we would carry her or boost her whenever we got to a real steep part.

We took the obligatory photos from the front side of the falls, then we went back down and crossed the creek to go onto a rock where we sat and had some clementines to snack. We also drank some water to re-hydrate.

Looking up at what Julie thought was a phallic rock I enjoyed taking photos of Tahia and Julie eating together (trying to capture those tender moments that might stick with us later in life) before we had to leave at 12:25pm. The whole time we were snacking, we definitely had to watch out for Tahia as she was tempted to eat an Oreo that was sitting on the ground (obviously oblivious to the germs or whatever else that might be there when things lie on the ground like that).

As Julie and Tahia were walking past the Robert's Home and back onto the trail returning to the start, Tahia was in such a good mood that she started this real catchy chant that went something like, "Walking in the woods. Hike! Hike! Hike! Walking in the woods. Hike! Hike! Hike!"

She kept repeating it over and over again, and Julie and I started to chant along with her. We had no idea where she got it from, but it certainly seemed appropriate for what we were doing. How on earth did she make that association? We never taught her that chant. We didn't even know which show she watched that it came from. But whatever the case, she seemed to know that we were out hiking and that the chant was appropriate. What a smart girl!

Julie and Tahia walking back towards the trailhead Julie and Tahia continuing on the walk back to the Solstice Canyon Trailhead Julie and Tahia approaching a creek crossing as we took the much shorter and flatter route on the way back

Even more encouraging was that it was another sign that we seemed to have a budding hiking partner! That really got us excited. And so we made our way back with renewed vigor and uplifted moods.

Julie and Tahia going by some black-barked trees that seemed to have been affected by the 2007 Corral Fire Julie and Tahia hiking beneath a trio of leaning trees that I wasn't sure if they were on the verge of falling or not Julie and Tahia almost back at the bathrooms and main car park area

Funny that on the way back to the car, it took far less time. We did take the lower approach instead of the undulating upper route that we took on the way in, and it seemed to make a difference. Tahia was still walking on her own, but she did have one moment of falling on the pavement when she tripped over a small bump in the pavement while fixating her attention on a dog.

Looking north along PCH from the makeshift car parking area that we parked at on this trip to Solstice Canyon Falls She was ok though. By about 1:10pm, Julie and Tahia were waiting at the turnoff for Solstice Canyon. I walked up the hill on my own to recover the car at 1:15pm. Once again, I savored the views of the Pacific Ocean and PCH while on the bluff by the makeshift parking area. Shortly thereafter, I went back down the hill, picked up Tahia and Julie, and then proceeded to drive towards the Malibu Seafood stand, getting there at 1:20pm.

Looking south along PCH from the makeshift car parking area that we parked at on this trip to Solstice Canyon Falls When we were looking to cross the very busy PCH, we saw that Malibu Seafood was ridiculously crowded. So much for us eating at this stand before going to Grom for gelati (something we had missed since our Italy trip last year).

We mind as well go straight to Cross Creek Rd and into that plaza where Grom was. Our first instinct was to go to Marmalade for lunch. When we arrived there at about 1:30pm, we saw that it was quite crowded there as well. So Julie and I looked for alternatives, and we eventually went to this place called the Malibu Kitchen, which seemed to be a deli specializing in sandwiches like some kind of meatloaf sandwich.

We decided to just eat there since we figured it would be a quicker lunch. Julie ended up ordering their famed meatloaf sandwich but we also had pulled pork as well (the safe choice). Tahia was pretty pre-occupied with the Darth Vader and Yoda statue at the Wall Street Gallery next door to Grom while we were waiting for Julie to come out with the food, which was a suitable distraction considering she could've easily caused more mischief by stealing the candy on display or something.

It turned out that the sandwich lunch was pretty good, and Julie and I knew that we had found a suitable alternative to Malibu Seafood or Marmalade whenever we'd come out this way. It wasn't cheap, but it certainly wouldn't cost us upwards of $50 or $60 or so.

After the lunch, we went to Grom as promised. Julie's strawberry sorbet and my Crema di Grom con Vaniglia really hit the spot. Tahia certainly enjoyed it. However, when we saw that it was on the order of $5.25 for a small cup, it almost felt as if we were back in Europe paying for these things in euros or something.

Nonetheless, we left Grom in a pretty happy mood knowing that we had a third week in a row of spending quality time out in Nature. Tahia enjoyed the experience and we were encouraged that we might be having a budding hiking partner going forward as she never complained. In fact, she was having fun. We couldn't have asked for a better outcome, especially given the drama that took place earlier this morning.

Julie even forgot about her pink-eye.

Indeed, it was a recovery by waterfalling. And when we got home around 4:30pm-ish, Tahia had been pretty well rested from napping in the car, and Julie and I felt like we were ready to take on the week once again...




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