32 Miles From Santa Barbara

Rose petals at the base of Rose Valley Falls

7-March 2010: Julie and I were itching to do a hike today, but yesterday's rains had lasted all day long and was forecasted to continue into this morning. So given that, we had slept in a little thinking it wouldn't be that big a deal as we went for Rose Valley Falls and Newton Canyon Falls.

We had actually visited both of the falls before, but our Newton Canyon excursion failed as we somehow missed that waterfall, and our Rose Valley experience happened during a pretty dry Winter. But today promised to yield better experiences given our pretty rainy Winter this year exacerbated by yet another Saturday rain storm yesterday.

So instead of getting up at 6am, we ended up getting up at 8am. And we didn't leave the house until 9:15am, which was rather late in my mind. But at least we didn't worry a whole lot about the weather as there were plenty of blue skies with patches of clouds gathered up against the mountains.

We were worried a little bit about traffic, but we managed to get all the way to Thousand Oaks and beyond without too much difficulty. However, the presence of CHP was definitely noticeable as I swore there were at least a half-dozen of them along the 101 (especially in Ventura County). Not sure if this has anything to do with the state's fiscal crisis or not.

First up on our excursion was Rose Valley Falls. During the drive, I somehow had this idea that the falls wasn't that far away from Camarillo. But when it was past 11am and we still hadn't even gotten to the falls yet, I started to wonder if this place was closer to Santa Barbara than it was to Los Angeles.

Anyways, when we drove onto the Maricopa Highway, I did recall we had to drive through some winding roads and a couple of tunnels en route. Plus, parts of the road did have some rockfalls, which wasn't all that surprising considering how this road juts right up against some pretty vertical cliffs in some spots (just as I had recalled from last time). But at least the road wasn't closed.

Eventually, we got to the Rose Valley Campground turnoff and then followed the road towards what we thought was the trailhead of the falls. But after driving longer than expected, I began to wonder if we had overshot our destination because I never recalled this drive being that far from the highway.

Upper Rose Valley Falls Ultimately at 11:30am, we got to the end of the road at the car park for the Piedras Blancas trail. And after glancing at the map near the toilets here, we realized that we did indeed miss a turnoff en route.

Entering the trail to the falls At 11:50am, we finally made it to the Rose Valley Campground. Basically, there was a 4-way intersection with stop signs where we shouldn't made the turn to the falls, but there was no sign indicating the campground from here. Maybe it was expected that we should've seen the Upper Falls of Rose Valley Falls had we been paying more attention.

There were already a handful of big SUVs here, making our 2wd passenger car seem out of place. Still, the sight of the Upper Falls definitely added more excitement to our excursion knowing that our experience was already better than it was nearly eight years ago.

Stream crossing en route As we went past the trailhead sign by Camp 4, we proceeded to hike behind a father and two kids who came along. We weren't in any hurry considering we could still see the Upper Falls from here.

Within a few minutes, we noticed a spot where we had to do a little boulder hopping and balancing in order to avoid getting our shoes wet. I took this as a good sign because we didn't have to do this before.

Closer view of the upper falls And as we got closer to the falls on the easy trail, we passed the father and the kids, then noticed some smaller waterfalls creating some noise of rushing water (again something absent from our last time here).

Made it to the falls Finally, we made it to the base of the falls where we spent lots of time taking photos of the falls from as many angles as we could. We did notice the view was a little more obstructed than before near the top of the falls so I climbed above some nearby rocks to get closer to the falls.

And from this vantage point, I took even more shots of the falls, which I don't recall taking before.

Photographing the falls Somehow this falls had the character of Nojoqui Falls, and it made me wonder whether this is a common trait of waterfalls in coastal Southern California.

Rose petals at the falls When I was done with this vantage point, Julie and I chilled a little longer at the base of the falls noticing some pink rose petals floating in the stream in front of us.

From what we could tell, someone probably put those petals there for their own photography purposes because we didn't recall seeing any roses along the trail nor nearby the falls itself. Still, that didn't stop me from taking some photos of the appropriately named falls juxtaposed with the falls itself.

Small waterfall downstream of main falls After having our fill of the falls, we hastily made our way back to the car snapping more photos of the tiny waterfalls downstream of the main falls as well as some parting shots of the Upper Falls when I looked behind me.

We got back to the car at 12:25pm, which felt rather short considering we had driven over two hours to get here.

Nonetheless, we didn't have breakfast and we were hungry. So Julie was taking advantage of her iPhone and managed to steer us to some place called Andria's in Ventura.

Apparently, this joint is known for fish 'n chips (we felt like saying fush 'n chups considering our recent New Zealand trip was still fresh in our minds). So we had to see for ourselves what the hype was all about even though we knew how unhealthy fried foods are.

On our way to the Ventura restaurant, we passed by a sign near Ojai saying something like "Santa Barbara 32" meaning we were only 32 miles from Sandy Barber! I guess that kind of confirmed that we were closer to the quaint coastal town than we were from home, and I'm sure we had pushed the limits of what constitutes a day trip from home.

No wonder why it took more than 2 hours of driving to get here!

At 1:25pm, we finally made it to Andria's. The place was crowded, but the line seemed to move pretty fast and there was plenty of seating.

We ended up getting Halibut 'n Chips (we substituted rice for the chips), and Julie got a Mahi Mahi Sandwich. We both split a Clam Chowder.

To be honest, we weren't terribly impressed with the food, but considering how hungry we were, it certainly hit the spot. Plus, it re-energized us for another waterfall we expected to see on our way back home - Newton Canyon Falls.

We left at 2:15pm and the clouds seemed more menacing as they gathered about the local mountains here. Rain threatened and even some sprinkles managed to hit my windshield, but by the time we got to the Backbone Trail car park at 3pm, we didn't have much to worry about from the weather.

Start of the trail The greater concern was how late it was getting and that we might have to deal with traffic from the Oscars on the way home considering today was also Oscar Sunday.

Scenic look of Newton Canyon Anyways, we quickly made our way onto the Backbone Trail as it descended from the car park and into Newton Canyon. The noisy sounds of cars whizzing by along Kanan Road were always present so it wasn't exactly a quiet and peaceful naturesque experience noise-wise, but other aspects of the trail itself was relatively peaceful.

Purposefully disobeying the Backbone Trail sign Being careful not to miss the waterfall this time around, we noticed the dry stream the trail crossed before the trail reached a signed fork. I think we must've missed taking the left fork the first time around and continued on the Backbone Trail, but this time, we disobeyed that sign and followed the unsigned trail downstream towards the source of the noise, which was the Newton Canyon Falls indeed.

Dodging foliage on the way down to the stream There were a few informal "trails" branching to our left once we were a few minutes downstream from the waterfall sound. We ended up taking the second trail, which seemed obvious enough. But as we got further down this path, it ended up at a dropoff that weren't going to descend. So as we backtracked, and found another informal fork that finally got us safely to the stream.

Then, we scrambled upstream alongside the stream itself while climbing over and under some fallen trees with loads of termites on them.

Julie checks out the falls By the time we got within sight of the falls, we were greeted by a family of four whose adolescents noticed that we were carrying a book.

"He's got a book just like you, Dad," said the daughter.

Full look at the falls in the shadows That drew some smiles as they continued going downstream leaving Julie and I to enjoy the falls alone.

And after seeing how relatively easy it was to spot this waterfall, we were still dumbfounded as to how we managed to miss this waterfall the first time around.

Closer look at Newton Canyon Falls Anyways, we made it, and we gladly took many photos of the falls from a variety of angles and light as the late afternoon sun was playing peek-a-boo with the clouds.

By 3:45pm, we made it back up to our car. We did pass one lady who was hiking solo who said to us as we passed, "You guys go ahead. You're faster. But I hiked farther!"

Stream scramble on the way out That drew a chuckle out of us since we did notice that she was on the Backbone Trail prior to us getting back on the main trail.

Anyways, it was now time to get back on the 101 Freeway and head home. Again, we were worried about traffic as we got closer to LA considering the Red Carpet was probably already rolled out by now.

So as we got to the city, we purposefully avoided the direct route on the 101 and went all the way to the I-5. That was when Julie's mom managed to call Julie and tell her that she finished making her food early today. So instead of heading all the way home only to head back the other way to Julie's mom for our usual Sunday night dinner with her, we just went straight to her place.

And at 4:45pm, we were having dinner with Julie's Mom. And from this point forward, it was business as usual more or less. Even Julie got to see some of the Red Carpet guests on TV...

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