Anyways, so I continued hiking further in the upstream direction on this trail, which seemed a bit more overgrown than I had remembered it. Then, the trail eventually went back across Cold Springs Creek. Immediately, I thought this couldn’t be right. Did I cross the creek for no reason?
And as I was making this apparently unnecessary crossing to get back to the original side, I made a misstep and next thing I knew, both boots were wet as well as my wool socks! So much for hiking comfortably in dry conditions. At this point, I knew my feet would be miserable as now I’d be pretty much squishing my way to the falls and back…
- Day 1 (March 31, 2017 – Santa Barbara, California): “As Last Minute As It Gets”
- Day 2 (April 1, 2017 – Santa Barbara, California): “Near Perfect Moments”
- Day 3 (April 2, 2017 – Los Angeles, California): “The Weekend We Didn’t Want To End”
Day 1 (March 31, 2017 – Santa Barbara, California): “As Last Minute As It Gets”
It wasn’t until about 6pm when we left the house. I had taken the day off work to try to get caught up on the web migration project while also making kefir and other things. In the back of my mind, I had hoped that we could spend this weekend going to Santa Barbara given that it had received quite a bit of rain during the Winter months and it would be a shame to let an opportunity pass by where we could make amends from a disappointing (from a waterfalling standpoint) visit back in 2015.
Julie had a pretty busy day, but I think the more she thought about the prospect of going back to Santa Barbara for the weekend, she started looking around to see how much it would hurt financially to make this happen. Well, it turned out that for the Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara, they only wanted 15k points. Upon further research, Julie saw that had we paid for this last minute room, it would have costed us over $400 per night! So that kind of sealed the deal for us as Julie immediately made the bookings and so the trip was in motion.
When we left home, I was fretting about facing the traffic, but with nothing planned for this day, I figured we could check in late and it wouldn’t be a problem. Perhaps the thing that was weighing on my mind more was that I somehow accidentally deleted files on our WordPress host. I immediately got in touch with technical support and they said that they could restore the files though it would take a while given the sheer size of our website. If they could pull it off, that would be a huge relief, but until that happened, I was still in worry mode that 1.5 years of work could go down the drain…
Anyways, the traffic going west along the 91 was surprisingly light. Even when we went north on the 405, the traffic went by relatively smoothly. It wasn’t until we got towards the top of the Sepulveda Pass did we start running into serious traffic, and most of that traffic was for people trying to get onto the 101 freeway in both directions!
While we were waiting in traffic, Julie was looking for a Whole Foods to eat dinner at while also doing some groceries for this trip. This was a test to see if we could pull off a trip where Julie wouldn’t have a kitchen. We had to see if longer trips that we were used to taking (our Spring Break trip was coming up first) was feasible given Julie’s health condition.
So it wasn’t until about 7:30pm when we arrived at the Whole Foods in Thousand Oaks. All of us were pretty hungry so we first got the naked rotisserie chicken and some steamed veggies, which we took our time eating. Then, Julie and Tahia did some grocery shopping while I was back in the car getting the GPS set up (somehow our Nuvi 265W started working again after going dead on us in Colorado Springs). I was also listening to sports talk radio where apparently Mississippi State ended UConn’s 111-game winning streak in the Women’s Final Four.
I wasn’t sure if that was an omen or something, but I guess I’ll be hearing a lot more about this outcome over this weekend.
It wouldn’t be until about 9:30pm when we finally left the Whole Foods in Thousand Oaks. We wound up spending nearly 90 minutes eating and another 30 minutes grocery shopping. So for sure, we’d be checking in late.
Well, at least the traffic was pretty light as we continued driving along the 101 Freeway. Finally at about 10:20pm, we checked into the Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara, where we didn’t have to valet on this night though Julie told me they charged $28 per night for parking. So I guess this stay wasn’t entirely free. Still, they provided Julie a microwave in the room as requested, and Tahia got her little rollaway bed. So everyone was able to get settled in, get cleaned up, and then crash for the night.
We couldn’t help that there were a lot of people in either prom attire or bachelorette party attire or something, but the lobby was full of young women all dressed up. It kind of made us wonder if we had gotten lucky even getting a room in the first place on this weekend.
So far, Julie hadn’t gotten any breakouts from this evening’s dinner, but I guess the true test would be tomorrow and Sunday, when she’ll have less access to controlling her own diet. We did bring an active cooling or heating cooler so perhaps that might help with preserving her food since the mini fridge wouldn’t be big enough to store other foodstuffs.
Day 2 (April 1, 2017 – Santa Barbara, California): “Near Perfect Moments”
It was about 6:40am when I awoke. Apparently, I had slept through my alarm or it had never gone off because I had originally set it for 5:30am. Anyways, the sun was barely up at the time, and the morning seemed a little on the chilly side. So I quickly got dressed and ate some of the leftovers from last night as well as a hard-boiled egg that we brought and some kefir.
By about 7:05am, I was in the car and ready to go to Seven Falls solo.
The drive out to Seven Falls went pretty smoothly as traffic was light this early in the morning. With the decent morning light, I took a few minutes to stop for the Mission Santa Barbara to take some photos before I kept moving on.
However, when I got to the familiar Tunnel Drive, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how many cars were already parked along the street for the hike! I wound up parking in some designated spots further down the road and not too far up the road from where we parked the last time a couple of years ago (and we thought that was easily over a quarter-mile from the official trailhead)!
So I geared up and immediately started hiking in my Keens (anticipating some hiking and scrambling in water) as I was determined to go further than we went last time.
So I quickly made my way back to the familiar fork in the road at the very end of the drivable part of Tunnel Drive, and then I passed the familiar gate as I embarked on the paved part of the Seven Falls Trail, which was really the trail for Inspiration Point and the Jesusita Trail further on. There were already quite a few people on the trail, but they were mostly trail runners or joggers, who were probably locals. Nonetheless, the hike was already peaceful and the sun wasn’t too overbearing, especially given how chilly it was this morning.
As the trail eventually curved inwards towards Mission Canyon, the paved part of the trail crossed a bridge, where sure enough, there was water in the stream. There was even a waterfall downstream of that bridge though it was hard to photograph given the overgrowth. Plus, it didn’t feature much water though it was certainly way better than the dry fall we had two years ago.
By about 8:05am, I made it back to the familiar creek scramble as the Inspiration Point Trail crossed Mission Creek. I then went off the main trail and followed the fainter trails alongside the left side of Mission Creek. Sure enough, I saw that there was indeed water in the creek though it didn’t seem like there was a whole lot of water in terms of yielding satisfactory waterfall sightings. The water that remained in the pools were still attractive and reflective, and I gladly took photos just to show how different things were today as opposed to two years ago.
By about 8:20am, I made it to a part of the scramble where the trail encountered a few forks. I first followed a fork that went back towards the creek, where there were a couple of small waterfalls near some potholed rocks. The falls themselves were nothing terribly special, but I distinctly remembered this spot from the last time thanks to those potholes.
As I went back on the trail, I explored some of the other forks. One went steeply higher and higher and I started to wonder where it went. Eventually, it joined up with an established trail, but it was way too high to be any part of Seven Falls and the creek they sat in. So I knew that I had somehow scrambled back up to the Inspiration Point and Jesusita Trails. So I immediately went back down to the fork, and then continued in the upstream direction, where I saw another faint trail leading past the potholes and the graffitied rock.
At about 8:25am, I made it to a pair of small cascades that was the stopping point from last time. And like the last time, there wasn’t much water in the falls. But at least the falls was running (albeit trickling). Anyways, unlike the last time, I was determined to push forward past this obstacle.
It didn’t look like going left around this falls was very wise, but I did see an opportunity to go rigbt around the pool, and then up and around the falls, which we’ll call Pool 1.
Above this pool, the creek scramble continued where shortly thereafter, I encountered a more attractive dropping falls into another pool, which I’ll call Pool 2. It looked like there was a landslide to the left of the pool revealing either a natural arch or a tunnel or some kind of balancing rock of some sort. It was interesting, but the falls itself was also captivating even in its trickling state.
Given that the canyon walls had closed in, I wondered if this was the end of the line. I had read in the literature that some people would indeed climb past this falls on the right side, and so I went ahead and did that. However, this scramble was quite precarious as it was full of dropoff exposure and the slope of the rocks always slanted towards the dropoffs. Good thing these rocks weren’t wet, or I wouldn’t have a prayer of continuing on.
Once I made it up to the top of the waterfall above the second pool, I saw that there was yet another deep pool. However, further progress at this point seemed like I would have no choice but to wade in the pool, which was chilly and deep. I decided that this would be my stopping point, but it was a fine (albeit awkward) one at that as beyond the pool was a series of maybe four small drops in succession.
When viewed from a direct angle (not easy given the slope of the bedrock I was trying to balance on), I could see why they named this falls “Seven Falls”. There were also interesting vein-like patterns on the bedrock fringing the pools, which very much reminded me of the kind of patterns I saw at Castle Rock near San Jose.
While I was enjoying this falls, I heard voices and some swearing, which made me wonder if I was being accompanied by someone else. But it turned out that they were coming from high up on the cliffs that must’ve been part of the Inspiration Point Trail. So I’d still have this place alone until I finally had my fill and carefully made my way back down towards the second pool again. Then, I had an apple and some water before I started hiking back out at 8:50am.
By then, I saw another couple who had just made their way up to the second pool. And after greeting them and getting confirmation from them that the falls above the second pool was probably as far as most sane people would go, I then got back past the first pool and then the trail again, where I encountered at least two or three more groups of hikers.
When I got back on the main trail at 9:25am, there were a group of Latino guys I greeted (I thought about greeting them in Spanish) as they opted to go right up the stream instead of bothering to follow the trails to the left of the stream. As I continued making my way back downhill towards the trailhead, I’d encounter at least a dozen or more groups of hikers going up the other way. Indeed, this trail was very popular.
Eventually at 10am, I had regained the car. Just as I was about to leave, there was a lucky guy who was about to claim my parking spot as the choicier spots were already taken. Indeed, this place was quite busy as I noticed longer lines of cars parked off the side of the street much further down the road.
Eventually at 10:15am, I made it back to the Hyatt Centric, where Julie and Tahia were still having breakfast at the Marbella Restaurant. I guess they were having a pretty deliberate morning given how I was able to get a hike accomplished while they hadn’t even started their day yet!
I showed up just in time for Tahia to be about done with her brekkie. So Julie was tending to getting ready for the day, while I took Tahia across the street to get onto the beach. It was a gorgeous sunny day as the beaches were bustling with bikers, people building sandcastles, lots of people playing volleyball, and even a few stoners chilling out being amused by whatever they see while some homeless people were digging through rubbish near them.
I spent the next say hour or so watching Tahia do her thing on the swings, then the slides, then playing in the sand, and then trying to make trails in the sand that made their way to a sheltered pavement area. Eventually, Julie joined us at around 11:30am, and then some 15 minutes later, we were back in the car as we decided to go to downtown Santa Barbara instead of going straight to San Ysidro Falls as I had hoped we could do as a family.
Anyways, at about 12pm, we parked somewhere near State Street at Lot 2, which seemed to be in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. But before we’d do any sightseeing, Julie had us go to this place called the Finch and Fork for lunch before they’d get really busy. We got there at 12:15pm, and when we were seated, we noticed that there was only the brunch menu instead of the full menu.
That was kind of a bummer since Julie now wasn’t sure she could have any of the food on their menu. But we opted to just go forward with the brunch as she looked intently for the cleanest dish they had, and that appeared to be pork belly dish. I had also gotten some slow cooked short ribs as well as a burger that both Tahia and I could share.
Well, it turned out that this meal was very good for a brunch. The food was cleaner than thought, and it seemed to be prepared quite well. So we were all pretty satisfied with our meal, and more importantly, none of the foods seemed to have set Julie off so far. Indeed, it was a good call on Julie’s part to come here.
When we went to the restroom downstairs, the decorations really reminded Julie and I of a more subtle version of Morocco or even Andalucian Spain. Indeed, the Santa Barbara architecture always brought us back to Spain, which was really saying something now that we had been there and could really see the influence play out.
At 1:30pm, we were done with the brunch and then started walking towards the Santa Barbara Courthouse, which we recalled was a really attractive mission-style building with a clock tower. We really looked forward to re-visiting this spot now that Tahia could come with us on this trip, where it was just Julie and I two years ago for Valentines Day.
Along the way, we stopped by this dessert place called the Lilac Patisserie. Julie was drawn to this place because apparently they had flourless and gluten free cakes as well as some kind of sugarless cake. Julie wanted to try out this place to see if her body would react unfavorably towards such desserts, and after trying some of the stuff (and buying a couple of cakes and cookies), she didn’t break out in any new rashes.
So after finally leaving the patisserie, we continued walking towards the courthouse, and sure enough, we got back to the familiar attractive building which contrasted nicely with the blue skies in the background. Once we got into the building, we immediately took the elevator all the way to the top of the clock tower, where we were treated to the familiar nice views in all directions – towards the mountains, the ocean, and even towards the Mission Santa Barabara in the distance.
The experience was quite different with Tahia here, and we finally got to take our family shots before we started walking downstairs. As we did so, we saw that the clock gallery room was open. So we went in there, checked out the fine machinery powering the clock, and did a little reading of the history of this place before the worker closed the door. I guess we showed up just in the nick of time!
Another floor down, we then saw that one of the courthouse rooms were open. It was a pretty ornate room that I swore could have doubled as a church or something. There were murals all around the walls and ceilings, and there was some guide giving explanations about the history of this place and its role in the acquisition of California as part of the United States.
Again, it was another case of perfect timing as now we really felt like our tour of the Santa Barbara Courthouse was more complete and fulfilling than the last time. Next, we took a few more photos of the courthouse from the outside from a lawn area in its front. We tried to duplicate some postcard shots that Julie noticed while strolling along State Street. And when we had our fill of that, we then walked back in the other direction towards McConnell’s Ice Cream, which we knew was a Santa Barbara institution as far as ice cream was concerned.
When we finally made it to McConnell’s at 2:45pm, we were surprised that we had to wait in a line that went outside the door and bent a little ways down the sidewalk! Since I was hoping this would be a quick dessert before we’d head over to San Ysidro Falls to try to squeeze that in before the day was over, this delay was not what the doctor ordered, so to speak.
Well, after finally getting our McConnell’s ice cream and combining that with the Lilac Patisserie cakes (for that right contrast between vanilla bean ice cream and rich chocolate cakes), we were finally back in the car at 3:45pm. This was just as the downtown Santa Barbara scene was quite alive and kicking, and it featured quite the ambience. I sure wished we could have stayed longer, but I saw an opportunity to fit in San Ysidro Falls, and I wasn’t going to give that up today.
At about 4pm, we arrived at the San Ysidro Falls Trailhead. There were probably about a dozen or so cars parked alongside the street containing the actual trailhead for the San Ysidro Trail. Either this falls wasn’t very popular or we must’ve have waited out the peak visitation because we didn’t have much problems parking near the trailhead. However, as I was gearing up and getting ready to go, Tahia was knocked out in her afternoon siesta. So Julie opted to stay in the car with her, and use that time to do some research on a dinner spot for tonight.
And so instead of doing a family waterfall outing to a new waterfall (as we had never visited this falls before), I was about to go solo yet again on another Santa Barbara waterfall hike.
I wasn’t sure how long this hike was going to take, especially since we had forgotten to bring our Ann Marie Brown book, but I thought I had recalled that it was 4 miles round trip with some non-trivial elevation gain. That said, I also recalled that this was supposed to be a family-friendly hike so I was estimating that I’d be away from the car between 2-3 hours. That would mean I’d be back around 7pm, which might make it non-ideal for eating dinner as I’m sure every place she’d pick would require at least a hour or more wait.
So I immediately set on the well-established trail, which initially passed between some private yards under some tree cover, which was certainly welcome given how quickly the weather turned warm at this time in the afternoon. After going between the yards, the trail then joined a road, which I think was called Park Lane West. I had to continue walking along the road past a bunch of no parking signs (I guess no public vehicles were allowed on this road except for residents) before the trail would veer away from the pavement and eventually pass through a couple of gates.
At this point, the pavement was nowhere to be found, but I now found myself following wide dirt paths that appeared to have at one point been a 4wd dirt road or something. So given the width of the trail, I could totally see why this was considered a family-friendly trail. That said, there were a handful of trail junctions that I encountered. And it would have been worrisome given that I didn’t have my guidebook with me, but I basically just kept right to stay on the San Ysidro Trail at these junctions.
I made it to the McMenemy Trail at around 4:20pm and the Edison Catway Trail at around 4:35pm. There was also some other trail junctions going behind me to the right, but I knew those couldn’t be it. Anyways, these left-forking trails appeared to have crossed the San Ysidro Creek, which by the way had some pretty healthy flow. In fact, the San Ysidro Trail pretty much followed alongside this creek and the healthy flow meant the calming sounds of cascades and rapids, which always made for a relaxing hike.
Once I was past the Edison Catway junction, the trail would continue to ascend a bit more steeply and the trail would narrow a bit more. But it was still quite easy and the trail would continue following the San Ysidro Creek. I recalled in one instance, I made a detour just to check out one of the short falls with a wading pool since I had now gone nearly an hour without actually getting close to any of the countless mini-waterfalls and cascades on San Ysidro Creek to this point.
I’d eventually get to a point where the trail seemed to have disappeared into the San Ysidro Creek. There was a family here about to head back the other way, and they told me that I had missed the trail that would keep going up to the main waterfall, but they did say that there was another waterfall further up the creek from this point.
So I backtracked, and sure enough, I saw the steeply climbing trail that I should have taken in the first place. As I continued further past some cacti and interesting rocks hugging the trail itself, I then noticed the waterfall down below that that family must have been talking about. I took a mental note that perhaps I might come back and try to scramble for a closer look at this falls (probably 15ft or less), but I’d keep pushing forward since it was getting late in the day.
I’d eventually pass one mid- to elder guy who was walking with the aid of a walking cane or stick, but he seemed to really be struggling with this trail. His wife was way ahead of him waiting for him to catch up, and she seemed to be impatiently waiting for him. Anyways, I went past them as well as another group of hikers chit chatting around a cactus along the trail.
Then, the trail descended past a section that was affected by a landslide before it descended upon a stream crossing. It looked like the crossing was near a confluence of two creeks. The creek that was being crossed appeared to be the larger of the two creeks. And since the trail seemed to be going away from this larger creek, I could only assume that San Ysidro Falls must be flowing on the smaller creek.
Well, sure enough, by about 5:10pm, I was finally at San Ysidro Falls. The final approach was a bit eroded as clearly this area had seen a landslide or two. And perhaps the postings I had seen at the Seven Falls Trailhead earlier and this trail as well, must’ve been talking about a volunteer effort to restore this particular part of the trail, especially as well as other parts that could use a little work given the rains from this past Winter.
So I spent some time experiencing this falls by myself, which was more impressive than I thought. It kind of reminded me of a larger version of Little Falls near Arroyo Grande given the underlying mossy bed for the falls to run over. Anyways, after having my fill of the falls, I decided to continue going up the trail just to see where the trail would go. I wasn’t sure if there were yet more waterfalls along the way or not.
Well, after taking in a nice view down the canyon towards the ocean, I then rounded a bend where it appeared that the trail showed signs of more erosion as well as an obstructed view of the brink of San Ysidro Falls. There was another lone hiker and his dog going the other way, and I asked him if there were more falls further up the canyon.
He didn’t answer that question, but he did say there were butterflies further up the canyon as well as rattlesnakes. I wasn’t going to keep Julie waiting for much longer as it was definitely getting late in the day, so after briefly walking a short distance further, I decided that there wasn’t going to be more falls further up the canyon so I started hiking back. It was about 5:30pm when I did that.
After making the steep descent, I’d catch up with the guy and his dog somewhere downstream from the San Ysidro Falls. We kept each other company on the return hike talking about miscellaneous things pertaining to the hikes in this area as well as the Sespe Wilderness. He even told me of a story of a firefighter who was apparently high on LSD and ran over a cliff while trying to chase his dog (which never went over the cliff). That firefighter, who was experienced in the outdoors, didn’t make it out, but his dog led the search and rescue (or retrieval) team to the body. I guess strange things and strange stories come about when you’re out in the woods.
After leaving the hiker alone as he knew I had to rush to get back to Julie, I was back at the Edison Catway by about 5:55pm. Then, I continued hiking quickly until I’d eventually make it back to the gate near Park Lane West, where I saw the couple (with the struggling husband) that was almost at the San Ysidro Falls. The wife told me that they had turned around because the husband didn’t want to go further, but when I showed them my pictures, the wife was regretting not making it all the way to the falls after having come all this way.
Well, at least they were locals and they could easily come back here as desired. We also chatted about other matters like gut health since she apparently had a family history of gut-related issues like what Julie was going through right now. But like we suspected and she confirmed, it pretty much meant that we had to refrain from sugar to keep things under control.
By about 6:20pm, I was finally back at the car. By then, Julie had already decided on a dinner spot, and so we promptly drove off and headed right for this place that was said to have a nice view of the ocean.
Well, when we showed up to the public parking lot near the restaurant called the Boathouse, we were in the Arroyo Burro Beach area, which apparently was also called Hendry’s Beach. It was a bit on the chilly side out here, but with the soft light of the waning sun painting the cliffs a nice orangish color and the Arroyo Burro itself casting gorgeous mirror-like reflections, I knew that this was the perfect spot to chill out and watch the sun set while we had to wait some 60-90 minutes just to get seated for dinner.
Tahia was enjoying the sand and both Julie and I were enjoying taking pictures of the scenery here as well as the obligatory people shots. When the sun had finally set some time after 7:15pm or so, we then spent time near the bar watching North Carolina and Oregon play in their Final Four game.
It was too bad that this restaurant had run out of the local Santa Barbara uni (sea urchin) because I was really looking forward to having it. Anyways, it wouldn’t be until about 7:45pm when we were finally seated. And after having a meal of crab claw appetizers, ceviche, lobster, and salmon, we were sated and ready to go back to our room. The dinner was over at around 9:25pm, which was quite late but at least it was time well spent in near perfect memorable moments and settings.
By about 9:50pm, we returned to the Hyatt Centric, where we had to valet this time as apparently the self-parking lots were full. Anyways, we then quickly got cleaned up and didn’t take much longer before we all crashed from a very long day.
Tomorrow, given the San Ysidro Falls experience, I decided that I should go check out Tangerine Falls first thing in the morning before heading back to finish packing and get Julie and Tahia for one last bit of sightseeing in Santa Barbara before checking out Rose Valley Falls, and then finally heading for home. I was anticipating that like the Portrero John Day trip with Mom a couple of weeks ago, that we wouldn’t be home until around 9pm, especially given the traffic on the 101 Freeway…
Day 3 (April 2, 2017 – Los Angeles, California): “The Weekend We Didn’t Want To End”
It was 6:15am when I awoke, which was a few minutes after I heard the alarm from my watch. Julie had left the window open overnight and to my surprise, the morning wasn’t nearly as chilly as it was yesterday. This was even as the sun was not out yet.
Anyways after having another round of kefir from our cooler as well as a hard-boiled egg and some chicken leftovers from Whole Foods from Friday night, I was back in the car at 7:05am and ready to take on Tangerine Falls. Once again, Julie and Tahia stayed in the room to sleep in a bit so I was going solo for the third time this weekend. In fact, Julie and Tahia didn’t visit any of the waterfalls in the Santa Barbara area though I knew that Tangerine Falls would not be a hike I’d feel comfortable taking Tahia on.
Once again, with the hikes being close to the Hyatt Centric, I made it to the familiar trailhead at 7:20am. Unlike the last time, there appeared to be evidence of landslides or rock slides that had hit the trailhead area, but they were enough cleared to allow for trailhead parking. Even though there were already a half-dozen or more cars here, I didn’t have to drive to the spillover parking further to the southeast of the actual trailhead like last time.
At first, I took the first trail that was sloping upwards, but then I knew something was off when that trail immediately switchbacked higher up to the right. So I went back down and saw that there was another trail ascending past a pair of trash cans before continuing more or less along Cold Springs Creek.
It was only a few minutes when I encountered a trail junction that was unsigned. I knew I had to cross Cold Springs Creek at one point in the hike so I went ahead and went left at this junction. It led to a somewhat non-trivial crossing before scrambling up the other side up an eroded gully. This seemed a bit rougher than I had remembered from the last time so maybe the rains from this Winter might have changed the landscape, I thought.
But when I got to the other side, I saw some signage saying something to the effect that I was now on the West Fork Cold Springs Trail. In fact, this sign was close enough to the road on the other side of the ford, which I thought was strange. Should I have parked here instead of on the other side of the fork?
Anyways, so I continued hiking further in the upstream direction on this trail, which seemed a bit more overgrown than I had remembered it. Then, the trail eventually went back across Cold Springs Creek. Immediately, I thought this couldn’t be right. Did I cross the creek for no reason?
And as I was making this apparently unnecessary crossing to get back to the original side, I made a misstep and next thing I knew, both boots were wet as well as my wool socks! So much for hiking comfortably in dry conditions. At this point, I knew my feet would be miserable as now I’d be pretty much squishing my way to the falls and back.
Finally at 7:40am, I reached the more obvious junction near a signpost and bench where the West Fork Cold Springs Trail veered to the left and crossed Cold Springs Creek. Now this was what I remembered from last time. Sure enough, the creek crossing was pretty trivial, and as I got to the other side and continued on, I noticed a tiny cascade spilling over one of the giant boulders strewn about the creek.
Now, the trail followed some water pipes, which I also remembered from last time. The trail continued climbing as it rose higher above Cold Springs Creek, and I’d eventually start to see Tangerine Falls still in shadow in the distance. It looked like it had average to a little below-average flow from this distant vantage point, but I still pushed on knowing that I had to update the writeup and experience from 2009 as I wasn’t sure if that visit was more of a fluke or if this was more of a typical experience considering I now had a sample size of two.
At 8am, I encountered a wooden pole right at a fork in the trail. I didn’t recall if we had to go through this the last time, but knowing that Tangerine Falls was to my right, I figured that I mind as well follow the fork in the trail to the right, which descended back down towards Cold Springs Creek. I never bothered to see where the trail on the left continued on to, but I wasn’t going to find out on this visit.
Once I got back to the bottom, I saw the familiar dry creek crossing as Cold Springs Creek was flowing at a confluence further downstream. Right on the other side was a steep scramble going up an embankment, but there was also a trail to my right following the dry creek for a few paces before crossing it and going up a more obvious trail. I opted to do the latter, which led me right to the flowing Cold Springs Creek. Was I supposed to stream scramble at this point? I didn’t remember having to do that this soon in the hike.
I saw a line of boulders above an eroded embankment so I made the steep scramble up there at 8:05am, and lo and behold, I saw a water pipe and a more obvious trail. After following this trail for a minute or two, I saw that the water pipes kept going forward but the trail switchbacked to my left. Not thinking anything of it, I continued following the trail to my left. But as I was blindly following this ascending trail, it got steeper and more slippery due to loose gravel and the angle of the slope.
By now, I was well above Cold Springs Creek and I was into the sun, where I could get an angled view back towards the ocean through the canyon opening as well as some wires above crossing the canyon as well. I knew then that this wasn’t the proper trail and so I quickly made it back down to the shade and the water pipes eventually getting there at 8:20am (making this a 15-minute detour).
Once I returned to the trail, it then became obvious to me that the pipes were flanking the thinner trail further along Cold Springs Creek. So I continued along this trail fairly quickly passing by a fallen tree obstacle or two before the trail (and the pipes) then continued across the creek with an attractive cascade spilling alongside the continuation of the trail. Since it seemed like I was the only one here, I heard the ribbit of frogs though I didn’t see any.
After having crossed the creek, the trail then continued alongside the creek before it made a real steep climb up a root-exposed embankment. This climb required the use of my hands. After this climb, the trail then continued on before crossing back over the creek in a more trivial crossing. Then, the trail eventually disappeared at a rock ledge next to the creek.
I remembered this part from the last time. I also noticed that as I looked up, I could see a glimpse of part of the main Tangerine Falls. So I knew that I had to keep forward along the rock ledge before dropping down into the creek and following the edges of the creek alongside the rock wall before climbing hand-over-feet past the next obstacle just next to another small cascade.
Beyond this obstacle, the “trail” pretty much followed a faint course that involved even more steep scrambling hand-over-feet amongst some giant boulders. This somehow seemed a bit more rough and steeper than I had remembered it some 8 years ago or so, but I knew this was another one of those parts where I was glad I didn’t bring Tahia on this hike.
Anyways just as I was continuing up the steep ascent, there was a couple that was making their way down carefully. I guess I wasn’t the first to get to the falls on this morning. While briefly chatting with this middle-aged couple, they said they had too see the Tangerine Falls for themselves as this creek was said to not be flowing in over five years.
After parting ways, I continued up where I then first scrambled down to a familiar pool and lower cascade with a somewhat full view of the main drop of Tangerine Falls above me without the tree blocking the way. Unlike the last time I was here, there were no hangliders or paragliders circling the top of the falls. It was also very early enough in the morning that the falls remained in shadow while the morning sun was somewhat against me.
Next, I then scrambled further up the “path” before getting to a precarious ledge where the last time I was here, it was hijacked by a large hiking group so I was never really able to get a clean view of the falls from this spot until now. Again, it was too bad that the 8:55am morning sun was pretty much against me as I was looking straight into the falls, and I figured that Tangerine Falls was one of those spots where it was probably best seen from late morning to early afternoon or something when the sun would be behind me instead of against me off to the side.
Well, I wasn’t going to linger around here for too much longer so I had my apple, a water break, and I even saw a guy scrambling with his dog to get to a real precarious spot right beneath the main drop of Tangerine Falls. I kept thinking to myself that this was one place where it was pretty easy to get hurt with a misstep or a bad choice in route.
Eventually at about 9:10am, I had my fill of this place and started heading down the steep “trail”. As I was doing this, I noticed a couple of couples making their way up. So I guess despite the obstacles that this trail presented, it was still popular.
As I continued further down the trail as it got progressively easier, I noticed a couple with one guy carrying a baby in the familiar Poco Plus carrier that I used to use when Tahia was younger. I warned them about the baby going on a bit of a ride at the end, but this couple seemed like they knew what they were signing up for on this hike as I suspected that they were locals.
Eventually at 10am, I’d make it back to the car with a very smelly shirt and very smelly hiking boots. Along the way, I must have passed another dozen or so hiking groups, which testified at just how popular Tangerine Falls was despite its difficulties and hazards. Anyways, 20 minutes later, I made it back to the Hyatt Centric, where Julie and Tahia were still in the room.
While Julie was continuing to pack and get ready for the drive home, I took Tahia to the swimming pool so she could play a bit. We did this for the next hour as she was busy splashing and doing belly flops at the shallow end of the pool.
Eventually at about 11:20am, we loaded up the car, and we decided that we should drive over to the Stearns Pier to have a lunch. I was worried about not finding parking on the pier itself but I never would have imagined that there would be public parking on a pier! But it turned out that someone was vacating a spot just as we were pulling up and so we luckily scored a spot and parked at 11:35am.
We made a beeline towards the end of the pier where Julie went to a takeout window for the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. That was where we picked up a local rock crab, a seafood cioppino, and coconut shrimp. Again, they didn’t have the local Santa Barabara sea urchin so I guess we’ll have to try this next time we’re in the area (whenever that will be). But in any case, we were trying to keep warm despite the sunny weather while enjoying the views from the pier.
It was quite a beautiful day, and looking back from the water towards Santa Barbara was quite picturesque as the mountains backing the city rose sharply behind and provided a nice backdrop to the lovely Spanish-influenced cultural town.
At about 12:50pm, we returned to the car and decided that we should drive back to downtown Santa Barbara to indulge our sweet tooth a bit. Julie wanted to go back to the Lilac Patisserie since we didn’t have a reaction to her dessert from yesterday. Meanwhile, Tahia and I wanted another go at having McConnell’s Ice Cream.
At about 1:05pm, we made it back to downtown Santa Barbara, where we parked in Lot 9 and immediately started walking towards the Lilac Patisserie along State Street. Unlike yesterday afternoon, the ambience seemed a bit quieter and less festive as we suspected most of the visitors were probably on their way home to Los Angeles today.
At the patisserie, Julie picked up the same cakes as yesterday (a flourless and gluten free chocolate cake as well as a sugarless one). They ran out of the gluten free chocolate chip cookies though, which was a bummer.
Then, we walked back over to McConnell’s which once again had a line, but it was quite a bit smaller than yesterday’s. And so we’d spend the next hour enjoying our desserts (Tahia even got her own waffle cone with vanilla bean). And eventually by 2:25pm, we were back in the car finally ready to leave Santa Barbara for good.
The drive out of Santa Barbara was unsurprisingly sluggish as the 101 Freeway was notoriously slow from here all the way through Los Angeles. It would start picking up speed as we finally made it past Carpinteria, but then it wasn’t long before I then took the Hwy 150 past Lake Casitas towards Ojai and the Maricopa Highway 33. I never took this road before, but I figured that it was better to do this than face more traffic on the 101 Freeway before going north on the Hwy 33.
Once we were on the Hwy 33, the road then wound its way towards Rose Valley. Julie said she never recalled the road being this curvy, but with me having been here a couple of weeks ago with Mom, I knew it was a non-trivial drive. Eventually at 3:45pm, we’d arrive at the familiar Rose Valley Campground where there were quite a few cars parked near Campsite 4 by the trailhead.
It took some time for both Tahia and Julie to get ready for the hike, which would be the first hike they’d participate in all weekend long. We tried to put my smelly boots and socks outside in the sun to try to speed up the drying, but even putting my hands on the boots made my hands smell, which attested to just how foul they were from being wet for a prolonged period of time.
Anyways, the falls looked pretty much like it did two weeks ago when Mom and I were here. The upper drop of Rose Valley Falls was still lightly flowing, which Julie and Tahia noticed. As we were doing this hike, Julie and Tahia had no trouble in both of the minor stream crossings before the trail continued gently climbing past some intermediate mini waterfalls before finally getting back to the base of the familiar mossy waterfall.
Upon seeing the falls, Julie said she must have confused Rose Valley Falls with Nojoqui Falls because she thought the trail was supposed to be paved. In any case, we spent some time at the falls though I came prepared with the GoPro, except the GoPro wouldn’t turn on as somehow the battery was drained without me turning it on!
So while there were kids going in and out of the cave behind the Rose Valley Falls, eventually Tahia overcame her fear of the darkness and went in there herself. I then followed soon thereafter though I had to risk wetting the DSLR since the GoPro wasn’t working. I also brought my flashlight, which was still working after all these years.
When I got in the cave, I took a few photos and I tried to take an awkward movie, but it didn’t work out. After squeezing my way through while having Tahia help me hold the camera and bag while I tried to crawl through the narrow spaces, I then got back to the other side of the falls, where Tahia made her own way back down to Julie while I took the time to document the falls some more before rejoining them.
At that point, we then headed back to the parked car and got there at around 4:55pm. The flies or gnats buzzing around the trailhead were quite annoying, but at least we all had fun outdooring as a family for the first time this weekend. Now, it was time to face the traffic, which I was so not looking forward to.
Along the drive back towards the 101 Freeway at Ventura, we then stopped by an Urban Plates in Thousand Oaks for our last dinner for the weekend. We got there at 6:20pm and wanted to savor the dinner as it really felt like the kind of weekend where we didn’t want it to end. Anyways, we had ourselves the familiar steak with chimichurri sauce as well as some chicken. With Tahia being good eating her dinner this time around, we let her have one of the big chocolate chip cookies.
The thing we noticed all weekend long was that we were having success with Julie not breaking out. She was even able to eat stuff that we previously thought were taboo as far as her gut was concerned. But now we were clearly seeing that it was more of a digestion issue and so as long as she took the supplements to facilitate digestion, it seemed like she could more or less function normally. It’s still a condition that needed to be managed, but now we were finding out that we could indeed pull off road trips and maybe even an international trip as long as she had the supplements to help her break down her food until her digestive system was back on track.
Indeed, that was good news for the upcoming trips taking place later this month.
At 7:30pm, we were finally back in the car, and after facing the expected traffic along the 101 Freeway, we’d finally make it back home at 8:55pm. There was no more time to do anything else but shower, brush teeth, and sleep as it felt like we really made the most of this spontaneous weekend – a weekend that we didn’t want to end…