Spreading The Love

A dog enjoying itself at Eaton Canyon Falls

17-October 2009: There were a lot of firsts about today's hike to Eaton Canyon Falls. It was the first time I was leading a hike with co-workers to expose them to some of the local waterfalls as well as give them a glimpse of our world. It was also the first time we were visiting a local waterfall this late into the year (since we normally assume that most of the falls here would be trickling or dry given how little consistent rainfall we get even during our Winters. We had a turnout of about a dozen people, which surprised me given most of my co-workers were more city slickers than nature lovers. But alas, fires that started two days before the projected hike made the air quality real bad and we had to call it off...

Well that was back in late August.

This time, it was mid October and Autumn was in full swing. There was a brief storm earlier this week where we got maybe an inch or two of rain. But immediately after the storm left, it quickly got up to over 90 degrees F and today was no different.

The hiking group that was once a dozen people had diminished to just us 5. For one reason or another, people had birthdays, midterms, jetlag, or were out of town. So it was basically Julie and I plus my co-workers George and Karen along with Karen's boyfriend, Dillon.

We all met up at the already-busy Eaton Canyon Nature Center at 9am. It was already getting hot this morning so when we all found each other, we wasted no time introducing ourselves and then hitting the trail.

Julie and I hadn't done this hike in over 4 years so our recollections about the trail and some of the obstacles were a bit fuzzy.

Still, the trail was very well signposted and we had no trouble staying on the right path. Plus, a lot of the walking was filled with conversations, which was definitely one of the benefits of hiking in a group setting (even if this particular group was small and intimate).

We took our time walking as some of the faster hikers easily went by us.

Graffiti by the trail When we got to that familiar bridge near the mouth of the canyon, we could see the first signs of graffiti on one of its supports. There were plenty of sandblasted spots as well, but it seemed like taggers momentarily got the upper hand this time around.

From here, the hike went from hot and exposed-to-the-sun to pretty cool and shady.

There were also several stream crossings, which most of us were able to get through them without getting our feet wet (Julie and I didn't care since we had Keens on). Karen seemed to have a little trouble trying to rock hop and keep her feet dry since she hadn't done one of these hikes since she was little. Still, she got through OK and Dillon even picked out a makeshift hiking stick from the ground for her to use.

Busy at the falls By about 10:30am, we made it to the busy base of the falls. There were easily over 20-30 people here at one time. There was even a guy dressed in camouflage barking orders to young juvenile volunteers (we think) picking up trash along the trail.

We spent a little over a half-hour enjoying these falls as well as taking some photos. George was pleasantly surprised at the falls as it exceeded his expectations (he originally thought it was nothing more than a tiny falls or rapids). Dillon had been on more strenuous hikes as well as some interesting adventures, which he shared with us during the hike. Karen was thinking about lunch already.

Dog playing at the falls We received a little bit of entertainment watching someone's dog swimming around the base of the waterfall. We could see this golden retriever really enjoyed the cold water, but at the same time, it didn't want to share the pool with other dogs as another one was about come join in but the retriever would have none of it.

It's amazing what waterfalls can do to you. I wasn't having a particularly good month at work so this was what I needed. The rest of the gang also seemed to be positively affected by the falls as well.

So when we headed back to the car, one of the big conversations (given the positive vibes) was figuring out which waterfall we should do next on another day while looking forward to the after-hike lunch for that future excursion.

We'd eventually decide that perhaps Sturtevant Falls would be next sometime later, and the after-hike lunch would be the soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Arcadia - something both Karen and Julie really advocated.

Walking back towards the car park Afterwards, George and I were about how the balance of city life and Nature seemed to be missing for some of our co-workers. We both agreed that they need to be out here as well, but then again, getting them to wake up before 8am on a Saturday morning was not an easy thing to do.

In any case, I could start to see that even with our small group, we were spreading the love a little bit at a time. Hopefully, George and Karen's word-of-mouth about their experiences will get the others to go and turn our outings into somewhat of a hiking and adventures club. We'll see how that plays out.

We got back to the car at around 11:45am. At that time, the sun was way up on the horizon and it was hot!

We all drove into Old Town Pasadena and went for a brief walk towards King Taco for some authentic burritos. There, we exchanged more stories and small talk over lunch for the next hour or so.

By 1:15pm, we parted ways and headed home.

I was glad we did this trip. I sure hope the others thought so too.

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