Day 2 (February 1, 2015): THE SECOND ATTEMPT
It was about 6am when Julie and I awoke. With this being the third week in a row where we did a relatively early wake-up for one of the days on the weekend, we were pretty ready to get up and going on this go around. I guess Julie’s funny iPhone alarm did the trick again (though Julie admitted she set it a half-hour earlier so she could prepare brekkie for Tahia before going to my parents’).
Actually, there was a slight last minute change in plans last night when we let Mom in on the plans to re-try Etiwanda Falls on Super Bowl Sunday. Yesterday, we were way too busy with doing taxes and that kind of stuff. In any case, Mom wanted to bring Joshua along. So instead of going to my parents’ place, we were going to my brother’s place to pick us Joshua, the nephew.
And even despite the early wake-up, it wouldn’t be until about 8am when we would finally leave the house with Tahia. About 20 minutes later, we showed up to my brother’s place, where we met up with my parents who were waiting for us. In a bit of another last-minute twist, my Dad decided to come along and they were also bringing my brother’s daughter, Sophia. So that meant the hiking party was going to consist of Julie, me, Tahia, Joshua, Sophia, Mom, and Dad – a total of 7 people!
Since my brother and his wife were staying home (as they weren’t into hiking), they let us borrow the van. And so with that family-mobile going, we were off at 8:40am.
As it was last week, the drive up the I-15 to Base Line was pretty uneventful. But this time, we noticed that there weren’t any dancing trees. Instead, we dutifully followed Base Line to Etiwanda Ave, and ultimately made it back to the North Etiwanda Preserve at 9:25am. But this time, the parking lot was quite packed.
Just on a lark, Dad went all the way to the front of the car park, where we got lucky and spotted a vacated parking spot that was probably as close to the trailhead as we could get. That was a relief because that meant the kids wouldn’t have to walk as far (though earlier we were contemplating a Sturtevant Falls-like scheme where we’d drop everyone off at the trailhead then go off and find parking before rejoining the group).
It took a bit of time to get ready and it was already proving to be pretty warm on this Winter day. I couldn’t imagine how much worse it would be out here (both temperature-wise and wind-wise) on a typical late Spring or Summer day!
To lead off, I was carrying Sophia in the child carrier. Joshua and Tahia were keeping each other company as expected, though they had a tendency to get ahead of the pack. Since Sophia still had morning naps, the child carrier solution was the way to go (we used it successfully with Tahia on our trips abroad).
And even though Sophia was somewhat lighter than Tahia, it still didn’t take away from the fact that it was still over 20 lbs more weight on my hips. So the already uphill hike was even more difficult than it already was. Plus, I had to have counted at least a half-dozen other hikers playing music out loud on the trail, which I thought was kind of ghetto.
And after 20 minutes, we had only made it up towards the junction leading to some shelter off to the left. We kept going straight, but I mentally made a note to come back here on the way back to see what that shelter was all about.
The trail continued to climb at a rate of about 100ft every 1/4-mile. By the time we got past the 0.5-mile point at 10am, we reached a four-way intersection, where we saw lots of people going straight ahead past some gate. The trail also looked like it was climbing a little more steeply than it had been up to this point. Moreover, the trail also felt a bit rockier as well, so that conspired to turn ankles, and it especially concerned us regarding Joshua and Tahia being prone to falling.
I guess tempering the sweaty, uphill, and arid hike was the fact that the mountains before us looked quite scenic (at least by Southern California standards). The uphill hike now started to feel somewhat relentless. At this point, Dad was chasing Joshua who were way up in front. Mom was a little ahead of me. Meanwhile, Julie and Tahia were holding hands and slowly trying to catch up to me.
At about 10:30am, we had finally made it to a yellow gate. By this time, Tahia was tired, and I actually saw Julie carrying her as they were going uphill. I knew that couldn’t have been fun for Julie. But since the child carrier was already occupied by Sophia, there really wasn’t much that we could do regarding relieving Tahia from continuing on the uphill hike. Julie even wondered if next time we should leave Sophia at home so at least Tahia would have the option of being carried if she complained or got tired. So much for Joshua (who was way ahead) and Tahia keeping each other company (as well as energized) for the whole hike.
Now that Julie and I were together with Mom, Dad, and Joshua not far ahead of us, we were holding Tahia’s hand to keep her encouraged. I think Mom also slowed down to keep Tahia company as well. Meanwhile, Dad was chasing Joshua once again as they were leading the pack.
About five minutes later, we then saw a short spur leading to a vista next to a rock with graffiti on it called “Frank’s Rock.” I wasn’t sure whether that was officially the rock’s name or if it was merely random graffiti. We paused for a few photos while getting a look at the Inland Empire from this spot (albeit somewhat against the sun).
Then, we continued on the hike, which slightly undulated before resuming a short uphill stretch where we then reached some kind of water contraption some five minutes later. I noticed some people leaving the trail (or coming back to it) from some informal spur path past the water contraption. So I made a mental note of it for later just to see where it might lead after we get through with doing the main part of the hike.
At this point, we were wondering if we were going the right way (due to those informal trails), but a local that was also doing this hike said the waterfall was still straight ahead on the main trail, which continued going further uphill around a bend.
Finally at about 10:50am, we found ourselves near the top of Etiwanda Falls. There wasn’t any clean view of the falls from the official footpaths, but I did see some opportunities to make some scrambles to improve the view of at least the uppermost tier of the falls. In any case, I took off the child carrier so Mom and Dad could look after Joshua, Sophia, and Tahia. All of them seemed to enjoy being around the water – especially Tahia and Joshua who were throwing rocks and twigs into the stream.
Meanwhile, Julie and I spent some time taking photos and movies of the upper two tiers of Etiwanda Falls. I could tell there was another drop further below that was unseen (at least safely) from our vantage points. And we were pretty content to just document the falls from up here though we did see quite a few other folks make the scramble right to the base of the falls and even a short distance further downstream.
In addition, Julie and I were basking in the moment as we could finally make the claim that we managed to visit a local waterfall that we hadn’t been to before for perhaps the first time in at least three years. I guess we could blame some of this on the drought making it not so worthwhile to seek out some of these more obscure waterfalls. Yet the popularity of this falls definitely took me off guard. I wouldn’t say it was as crazy busy as Sturtevant Falls, but it seemed like it wasn’t that far off.
Anyways, all good things must come to an end, and by 11:20am, we started to head away from this area upstream of Etiwanda Falls. But when Joshua and Tahia noticed there was more to the waterfall than the stream they were playing in, we spent another 10 more minutes scrambling to the viewpoint that Julie and I were at earlier. Once that was done, we then headed down the hill back towards the water contraption.
I think at this point, Joshua seemed to start throwing a tantrum for some reason (we weren’t sure why). Sophia was also upset about being put back into the child carrier (apparently she didn’t like the ride). And while Julie and Tahia were up ahead, I took the opportunity to check out the informal path behind the water contraption to see where it went.
The path was pretty obvious except for one rocky scramble part, but then I could see where the trail skirted a ledge before ending up at some kind of water mane or something built into a cliff. And down below, I could see there was some graffiti in the shadowy depths below. I saw there were a few scrambling paths to access the base, where I suspected the last of the Etiwanda Falls could be seen (it definitely couldn’t be seen up here, but it could definitely be heard).
But as I saw that the path to the bottom looked steep, I decided not to try it. Perhaps in my younger days, I would’ve done it without much hesitation, but with a daughter and now a niece and nephew to look after, I thought better of it and play it safe. I hope I wouldn’t regret not seizing the moment though (despite the fact that it was only the last 20ft drop of the waterfall).
At about 11:45am, I made it back to the yellow gate where Julie, Mom, Tahia, and Joshua were. Mom said that Dad and Sophia were still further up ahead as they had apparently passed us while I was doing my short little exploratory escapade.
At about 12pm as we were still making our descent, Tahia was starting to get a little antsy due to fatigue (this wasn’t that easy of a hike for four-year-olds). But we managed to get her mind off the fatigue by encouraging her to sing Frozen’s “Let It Go”, which she was obsessing about all Winter long.
At 12:25pm, I made a brief detour to that shelter that I made a mental note of to visit on the way up earlier. When I got there, I was pretty much by myself checking out the signs talking about the landscape, the history, and the endangered species that this preserve was trying to protect. It was interesting, but I also wasn’t surprised to see the ingrateful thugs who spray-painted just about all of the signs except for one.
Finally at 12:30pm, all of us were back at the car park. Feeling accomplished, it was nice to see Sophia smile (after her responding with “yes” whenever we’d ask her if she had fun). Of course, Tahia was enjoying herself now that she was back in the car seat and relaxed. Joshua, on the other hand, was throwing a hissy-fit, and we still didn’t know why.
Nonetheless, ten minutes later, the family mobile took off, and another 40-minutes or so later, we were back at my brother’s place to have a quickie take-out lunch while mingling a bit before we’d all go our separate ways and spend the rest of Sunday back at home (or party in my parents’ case) enjoying the Super Bowl…