It’s times like these where waterfalling truly is a gratifying family activity. It seemed like everyone here was having a good time (except for some ladies who anxiously saw their sons climb up the rock besides the falls). Even Julie and I felt that the waterfalling experience today was closer to the way it was supposed to be – uncrowded, laid back, and enjoyable….
After a very busy day on Saturday, both Julie and I heard Tahia baby-talking in the next room. This was at about 7:30am and that was our cue to get up and tell her, “Good morning!”
As groggy as we were, we figured that it was a beautiful day today, and perhaps we should really bust our butts to get our stuff prepared so we could make the fairly long drive to Paradise Falls on this Easter Sunday.
The thinking was that it ought to be much less crowded (due to Easter Egg hunts and religious ceremonies taking place at this time) than Eaton Canyon and therefore the experience ought to be much more enjoyable.
So after getting all our stuff ready to go while simultaneously feeding the obligatory morning milk to our daughter as well as having our own egg-sandwich brekkie on-the-go, we were out the door at about 8:50am, which was probably as fast as we could get out since we were bringing our little daughter along.
Through the light traffic, Julie fed Tahia her breakfast in the back seat of the car (I think this was a first for us), and before we knew it, we were already in the Thousand Oaks area at the car park for Wildwood Park at about 9:55am. By then, Tahia was already roughly 15 minutes into her morning nap sound asleep. We figured she won’t be too happy when we wake her up so we delayed that for as long as we could.
The car park was quite full, but there were still a handful of spots available. Unfortunately, they were all out in the open and exposed to the increasingly hot morning sun.
Julie and I got our packs ready and strapped in. Roughly at about 10:10am, we finally woke her up and put on sunscreen for her. She was in a surprisingly good mood considering we woke her.
At about 10:15am, we finally left the car park and went right into the hike on this warm day. It felt more like a cool Summer day than a typical Spring day. We imagined that when we return to the car after this hike, the inside of the car would be baking hot.
Since we knew that the trail to the falls was mostly downhill, Julie took the first turn to take Tahia on her back in the Ergo. We lightened my pack by taking out some stuff I always took with me like the GPS, compass, climbing gloves, flashlights, tick tweezers, and an all-in-one electrical converter. All I was carrying were my heavy DSLR camera as well as two stainless steel bottles full of water, baby’s diaper bag, and container with ice-pack, milk, and water.
All in all, they seemed to be about the same weight as having Tahia on the back.
Anyways, with this being our third time on this hike (Tahia’s first), we knew and decided to just follow the wide fire road on the official trail then veer left towards the falls. Previously, we would take one of the other paths to the left, which led to an unused parking lot (so-called parking lot #1), which then descended into Wildwood Canyon with opportunities to follow the creek while passing by a Native American cave en route.
The scenery was much more colorful compared to our visit here a couple of years ago when it was overcast. So we noticed the interesting cliffs to our right and some colors from the Spring wildflowers growing alongside the trail.
We also saw the familiar natural gas pipeline which seemed quite out-of-place in a conservation area like this.
Sure enough after ignoring the first couple of junctions to our left, we saw a signpost at the next junction indicating the way to both the teepee and the falls among other things.
So we gladly took this branch, which climbed briefly before descending towards the teepee picnic area down below. Flanking the trail were heaps of cacti, which was a testament to the typically dry desert-like conditions here.
Julie was being ultra careful on the descent given the slippery nature of loose pebbles on hardened rain-smoothed rock beneath. And this was especially important considering the precious cargo that she was carrying.
All along, Tahia seemed to be having a blast as she was busy pointing at stuff indiscriminantly asking in her baby-talk, “Eese?!??”
Meanwhile, I was busy taking photos of Wildwood Canyon itself as it presented itself down below us near the signposted Stagecoach Bluff Trail. We weren’t sure where this went, and we weren’t going to take it anyways.
Once we got down to the teepee, we followed the sign and went right, which descended some more. After a few more minutes along this sun-drenched part of the fire road, we were greeted with another sign for the falls pointing to our left.
So we got off the fire road and onto a narrower descending trail with some limited shade flanked by more desert brush.
The whole time Julie and I were hearing rushing water, but little did we realize that the rushing water was from Paradise Falls itself! In fact, we could see parts of it up ahead, and it made us realize that this “official” trail was promptly the shortest path to get here.
We were surprised to be at the falls by 10:45am – barely 30 minutes after starting on the hike. Along the way, we noticed a strong whiff of sulfur-like smells, which seemed stronger than the foul-smelling pool we faced here a couple of years ago.
When we were at one of the switchbacks, we actually saw a man-hole cover with the word “sewer” printed on it. We were pretty sure that this creek probably drained sewage or other waste from the suburban homes nearby. However, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if there was also industrial waste draining into the creek as well.
That was a shame, but more importantly, it would be wise to not go into the water for wading or swimming.
In any case, both times we were here previously, we had always taken the cliff-side approach, which was now coming in from the left. This official route that we had just taken would probably be our preferred route from here on out.
So down the now-familiar steps (they weren’t there before on our first visit over 10 years ago) we went before we joined about a dozen or so other folks already enjoying the falls.
It was a shame that the sun was right against us which made photographing the falls a bit more difficult. But more importantly, the waterfall got the attention of our daughter which was confirmed when she was pointing at it with her signature “Eese!???”
That didn’t go unnoticed by another lady who was amused by what Tahia was doing, and was quick to point out to us that our daughter was well aware of the falls.
It’s times like these where waterfalling truly is a gratifying family activity. It seemed like everyone here was having a good time (except for some ladies who anxiously saw their sons climb up the rock besides the falls). Even Julie and I felt that the waterfalling experience today was closer to the way it was supposed to be – uncrowded, laid back, and enjoyable. Both times we did Eaton Canyon this year, it was simply too busy to really feel that sense of relaxation and enjoyment.
Julie and I took plenty of photos with our baby daughter in front of the plunge pool before the falls. We also tried to feed her milk while we were down here, but despite obvious signs of thirst, she still resisted the milk. Perhaps she was a bit too distracted at all the other activity going on around us – from other hikers trickling in from above to dogs and children running around.
It wasn’t until about 11:40am when we finally left the falls area. This time, we switched off cargo carrying duties and it was my turn to carry Tahia uphill. Julie took my camera and pack.
The climb up was pretty hot and draining under the energy-sapping intense Summer-like sun. But we still made it back to the car park at 12:15pm (barely 35 minutes).
As expected, the car itself was hot and we had to let it air out a bit so it was more fit for Tahia to sit in her rear-facing car seat. So it was during this time that we changed her diaper.
We left the car park about fifteen minutes later and we were hoping that Tahia would finish her milk during the drive towards Thai Town in Hollywood, where we were looking forward to our well-deserved lunch break having authentic Thai food. My only concern would be the parking situation, something I never looked forward to in all the times we’d eat authentic Thai food in Thai Town back in the days we used to live on the West side.
It turned out that Tahia did manage to do well drinking her milk plus some water during the drive. That was a relief for us as we could now focus on her eating her solids at the same time we would be eating our meal.
By about 1pm, we made it to this restaurant called Ruen Pair. There was $2 valet parking, which we took even though there was street parking. But that was ok since we had to contend with Tahia and her belongings.
Anyways, we spent the next couple of hours both feeding Tahia while having really good raw shrimp, papaya salad (som tom; probably the most authentic one of this type we’ve had in the LA area), pad thai, and a beef salad (not so great).
Tahia was having a blast interacting with a kid who was sitting at an adjacent table. Julie and I were chatting with that kid’s parents which was an interesting mix of Japanese and Spanish. It’s amazing how public your life becomes when you have a kid. I couldn’t have imagined having spontaneous conversations with strangers before having Tahia.
When we were done having lunch, we went across the parking lot to pick up some Thai desserts. We eagerly picked up some sticky rice with mango along with some other sweets for Julie’s mom.
At roughly 3pm, we finally left Thai Town. There was a bit of looky-loo traffic as we passed through the downtown area, but we’d eventually get home at around 4pm.
Tahia was out cold for her well-deserved afternoon nap.
But all in all, it was a very pleasant Easter Sunday. Despite how busy we were on this weekend, Julie and I were sure glad we made the trip out to Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks, and that we didn’t delay it for another weekend.
Plus, it was just what I needed to recharge given that I had to work last weekend, and it’s possible I might have to work the next weekend to meet a deadline. Funny how things work out, especially when you seize the moment like today!
We wonder what the follow-up act will be for the next Tahia adventure…
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