"Just The Two Of Us" (Palm Springs - February 10, 2017 to February 12, 2017)

Looking back at the rugged yet beautiful Murray CanyonLooking back at the rugged yet beautiful Murray Canyon

10-February 2017 to 12-February 2017: As Julie and I got closer to the creek amongst those palm trees, we saw some people with wet shoes. One guy told us that you're gonna get wet on this hike, and that we would be better off giving in to getting wet instead of wasting time trying to figure out how to stay dry on the creek crossings. He threw out a number like around 12 creek crossings, and as we got closer to the creek, we could already see that crossing this while trying to stay dry would be no easy feat. And that there were still at least 11 more of these to go!

Once we got to the other side (shoes a little bit wet but not too bad), we met up a lady who decided she wasn't going to continue the hike after having soaked one of her feet. So she sat by some solar powered vane or something like that, and waited perhaps for the rest of her group to finish the excursion before heading back. And so the whole while, she'd sit there patiently while hoping her shoes and socks would dry by the time they'd get back as she wasn't in the mood to hike with soaking feet...

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Day 1 (February 10, 2017 - Palm Springs, California): "Uneasy Feelings"

It was about 6:55pm when we were starting to leave home. It was raining pretty moderately at the time, which was a bit later than what was forecast. The forecast had called for rain to arrive some time around lunch time and then start to dissipate or pass by the evening and into tomorrow morning. But with the way things looked, it appeared that the rains had arrived more like 5pm and might continue through the night and even affect the weather throughout the day tomorrow.

It was non-ideal, but since Julie and I were headed to Palm Springs as sort of our little Valentine's Day getaway, we thought that we'd be fine since we would be in the rain shadow of the San Jacinto Mountains and perhaps we wouldn't be too terribly affected by what was going on further west in the Los Angeles basin.

But as the rains were coming down harder and harder, my next thought turned to Julie's mom and Tahia, who were coming home by bus after Julie's mom had to run some errands. I thought that perhaps we should be in position to help pick them up from their bus stop since it wouldn't be pleasant having to wait at the bus stand for the next local bus as rain was coming down all around them.

So Julie got in touch with her Mom (who normally doesn't pick up the phone), and eventually we learned that they were closer to home so we thought we could intercept them at their final bus stop then drop them off home before finally taking off to Palm Springs.

And so we waited at a nearby Jack-in-the-Box for a few minutes at around 7:10pm when Julie got a call saying that apparently her Mom had taken a "short" bus that wound up dropping them off somewhere in an adjacent city instead of closer to home. So now, we had to scramble about through the local traffic and the local street flooding before finally arriving at the Norwalk Civic Center and their rather memorable 6-way intersection.

It was a good thing that we made the call to pick them up because this complication where they were in Norwalk instead of Artesia would have really been a bit of a sticky situation, especially with the rain.

Eventually by 7:45pm, we made it back home, and then we dropped off Julie's Mom and Tahia. Aside from getting them out of a non-ideal situation, we were happy to see them one last time before we were heading out for just the two of us (and taking a little bit of a break from Tahia).

At 7:55pm, it was still raining moderately, but now Julie and I were finally able to head out to Palm Springs for good.

The drive out along the I-10 east went fairly uneventfully though the traffic was still pretty heavy on a Friday night. Certainly the rain didn't make it any easier so we had to make sure to keep a safe distance while also keeping with the flow of traffic.

The drive out towards Palm Springs felt longer than what I would have expected, but that was probably because we were driving in the dark and Julie was pretty much out cold from a very long day of running errands. We'd ultimately get past the familiar 330 exit towards Running Springs (man was it way out there) then out towards Cabazon and the Morongo Casino before finally heading south on the Hwy 111 in the near pitch blackness and high winds before finally arriving in downtown Palm Springs.

At 9:35pm, we arrived at the Hyatt Palm Springs, which turned out to be a pretty centrally located spot as there was quite a happening night life all around the downtown area. We were told that there was a bit of a hefty $20 per night resort fee on top of the room rate so we braced ourselves for a not-completely-free stay since we were using our Hyatt points for this weekend.

Once we finally checked in and put our stuff away, we then parked the car in some partially-complete parking structure right behind the Hyatt. The parking there was free, but we were advised that it was at our own risk since it was unsupervised. Better that and leave nothing valuable in the car than to spend $25/night on valet at the Hyatt, we thought.

And so by 10pm, we parked the car and headed back to the room with the rest of our belongings. And so began our little weekend getaway though we were trying to stay warm as the default climate control in the room was still frigidly cold despite setting the thermostat all the way up to 76F. So eventually in the middle of the night, we just shut off the AC since it wasn't really necessary anyways...

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Day 2 (February 11, 2017 - Palm Springs, California): "Taking What Mother Nature Throws At Us"

It was about 7:30am when I finally woke up. Since Julie insisted that I not bring the laptop to this trip (so I could focus more on our getaway together and not so much on blogging during our trip), I decided we mind as well sleep in. However, I knew that today was going to be the lone full day that we'd have of activities in the Palm Springs area so I had to wake up sooner rather than later so as to not waste precious time.

Looking at the construction zone towards the left side of our balcony As Julie and I looked out the balcony of our room, we saw a pretty view of the San Jacinto Mountains looming over some golf course towards our right with some construction going on to our left. That parking structure that we had parked at for free was amidst that construction zone.

Checking out the golf course backed by the San Jacinto Mountains to the right side of our balcony The morning had gone off to a rather sluggish start as Julie was busy getting ready for the day while also trying to heat up some healthy stuff she had brought from home and nuked in the microwave that the staff had brought up for us. At around 8:30am, that was when we finally went downstairs to the restaurant where they were offering some all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast for about $21 per adult, but we asked if they could do a la carte instead, and when they affirmed, that was when we decided on having the brekkie here.

We were probably the third couple that was here despite me thinking that we had gotten a late start. And throughout the breakfast, all of the sudden people started rocking up to the place for their brekkie, and before we knew it, the place was full. I guess we had beat the rush.

Anyways, Julie got some plain omelette given her dietary restrictions. Meanwhile, she talked me into ordering something that they do well locally, and I wound up getting this thing called chilaquiles, which was pretty much like a glorified nacho dish though the toppings were more suitable for a Tex-Mex omelette than a salsa of some sort. It was quite delicious though I'm sure the chips weren't GMO-free.

When we were finally done with the reasonably-priced yet satisfying breakfast, we then went back upstairs to get our outdoor stuff, and by 9:45am, we were finally in the car and ready to roll.

The original plan was to do Tahquitz Falls in the morning and then shoot for Murray Canyon Falls in the afternoon, but given the overcast skies and threatening rain, I decided we ought to do the Murray Canyon Falls excursion first and see whether we'd have any time left to do anything else later in the day. After all, Murray Canyon was going to be a new experience, and I didn't feel like starting off the day doing a re-hash of something we had done 6 years prior.

And so we continued heading south along South Palm Canyon Drive, and then veered right where the road had split off as it continued heading towards the Indian Canyons. The skies were dark enough to start sprinkling, which was totally unexpected as the forecast had called for partly cloudy skies on this day. Yet that pretty much reinforced the notion that perhaps Tahquitz Canyon on this day wasn't going to happen anyways. I figured that I made the right decision...

Waiting in the long line to get to the kiosk where we'd pay the admission to get into Indian Canyon lands But then at around 10am, we found ourselves in a long line of cars well before the kiosk that was up ahead. I guess this was where we were supposed to pay the expected steep entrance fee (at least steep in the sense that I recalled having to pay for the Tahquitz Falls excursion some 6 years ago when it was also just Julie and I).

Checking out the steep prices we had to pay just for Julie and I to get in Still, we were talking about entering Aguas Clientes Indian Lands, and they could do as they felt was necessary with their own land. So regardless of the short-term financial pain we were about to experience (which this line wasn't making any easier), we were still going forward with our excursion regardless though we did see quite a handful of people turn around.

Finally almost pulling right up to the Indian Canyons kiosk After around 20+ minutes, we finally got up to the kiosk, where the price was $9 per adult or $18 total for the two of us. The lady working the kiosk said that this admission did not work for Tahquitz Falls (in the event that we'd go over there, too). And so I was thinking to myself that perhaps we mind as well make our money's worth by exploring this area for the whole day and punt the Tahiquitz Falls experience for another time when we could day trip to Palm Springs while bringing Tahia along.

The car park closest to the trailhead for Murray Canyon At 10:25am, we finally arrived at the trailhead for Murray Canyon. At first, we thought we had to park at this really busy picnic area where there were quite a few big rock formations (I believe they were called Pride Rock or something like that), but after noticing and following the small signs for Murray Canyon, we eventually got to the end of the unpaved road where there were more palm trees interspersed amongst the handful of cars that were parked here.

The signposted trailhead for Murray Canyon After some more time spent getting our gear ready, lacing up hiking boots, bringing waters, and getting my handheld GPS all locked in, we were finally on the trail at 10:45am. The trail signs here also referred to the waterfalls here as the "Seven Sisters Falls". That was the first time I had heard that this falls had this name, and so we made a mental note of this as apparently there appeared to be a handful of waterfalls to check out on this excursion (seven maybe?).

I brought the new rain ponchos that Julie had bought just in case as the skies were still somewhat dark and overcast and threatening rain. Yet I still found it hard to believe that we would be needing them.

The trail started off with a slight downhill towards a very wide and flat area. We could totally tell that we were in a desert as all the vegetation surrounding us were pretty much low to the ground. Besides the palm trees at the car park, there wasn't a tree in sight. Even the slopes of the San Jacinto Mountains to our right looked rocky, craggy, and desolate. But there were also some interesting rock formations seen alongside the trail perhaps hinting at the geologic processes still at play in the area.

All this mountain presence along the trail brought back memories of Morocco. That mountainous country made me realize that desert oases by necessity must have a mountain range or big mountain near it. They could not exist in flat areas as water would be way too scarce. Indeed, the city of Palm Springs itself was next to the San Jacinto Mountains and other places like Desert Palms, Indigo, etc. must also be near the mountains so they could catch precipitation and then drain some of that water towards the unforgiving deserts in its rainshadow. As a result, you'd have water in the desert, which would create that illusion of a desert oasis.

Looking ahead at the Murray Canyon Trail from a little hill near the trailhead Looking in the other direction towards the far southern end of Palm Springs Looking back at the trailhead parking nearest to Murray Canyon Julie starting the hike onto Murray Canyon with seemingly desolate desert up ahead of us

In our case, we'd be walking the first half-mile along this somewhat flat desolate stretch with quite a few people going this way and that as this was definitely a popular trail. But eventually, the trail descended towards a concentrated grove of palm trees, and we knew that there must be a creek nearby to feed those palm trees.

Julie on the flat part of the Murray Canyon Trail between the trailhead and Murray Canyon itself Julie walking by some interesting rock formations alongside the flat part of the trail through the desert Approaching the lines of palm trees flanking Murray Creek Julie approaching the first of the stream crossings of Murray Creek

As Julie and I got closer to the creek amongst those palm trees, we saw some people with wet shoes. One guy told us that you're gonna get wet on this hike, and that we would be better off giving in to getting wet instead of wasting time trying to figure out how to stay dry on the creek crossings. He threw out a number like around 12 creek crossings, and as we got closer to the creek, we could already see that crossing this while trying to stay dry would be no easy feat. And that there were still at least 11 more of these to go!

Julie trying to keep her feet dry on the first stream crossing of Murray Creek Beyond the first stream crossing, we found ourselves hiking besides some impressive rock formations and more palm trees Continuing along the Seven Sisters Falls Trail between the first and second crossings Looking across the creek at some interesting rock formations across Murray Creek

Once we got to the other side (shoes a little bit wet but not too bad), we met up a lady who decided she wasn't going to continue the hike after having soaked one of her feet. So she sat by some solar powered vane or something like that, and waited perhaps for the rest of her group to finish the excursion before heading back. And so the whole while, she'd sit there patiently while hoping her shoes and socks would dry by the time they'd get back as she wasn't in the mood to hike with soaking feet.

Looking ahead towards more palm trees and rocks backed by San Jacinto Mountains as some hikers were making their way back Looking downstream towards the rocks and palm trees near the first stream crossing Contextual view back downstream towards that first stream crossing of Murray Creek Julie approaching more tall palm trees as the next stream crossing was near

Anyways, Julie and I continued with shoes and socks and all as we continued along a pretty scenic stretch as we followed alongside the palm trees lining Murray Creek. As we continued further, we could see the majestic San Jacinto Mountains up ahead (clearly Murray Creek was sourced by the rainfall and snowmelt coming from there) and we also noticed some interesting rock formations on the other side of the creek looming above the palm trees. One of the rocks looked like a huge chunk came off.

It didn't take long before we reached the second stream crossing at 11:20am, but at this crossing, Julie and I couldn't see how we could get across without getting our feet wet. So it was at this point that I decided to remove my socks and unzip the lower part of my hiking pants. And then, I'd proceed without socks while hiking in my hiking boots knowing that they'd be ruined (I figured that they were ruined anyways as they apparently didn't last very long in the first place).

Julie traversing the second stream crossing of Murray Creek Hiking beyond the second stream crossing in Murray Canyon This was the third stream crossing, but Julie went further upstream looking for a palce to cross without getting her feet wet After making it across the third stream crossing, we were hiking alongside Murray Creek pretty much entire way

Sure enough, it was on this stream crossing that water started to enter the boots from the top. And almost immediately, I could feel my feet getting heavier as the water was collecting in the boots. Julie and I continued past this stream crossing and after a few more minutes, encountered yet a third stream crossing. Again, this stream crossing looked hard to cross without getting wet. So we figured by now that resistance was futile and it was time to just push on through.

Despite the soggy adventure, we had to pause and take in the beautiful landscape of the San Jacinto Mountains backing Murray Canyon's palm trees A split in the trail where the path on the right was the horse trail crossing Murray Creek earlier than the hiking trail did Julie at the fourth or fifth crossing of Murray Creek Hiking amongst impressive rock formations en route to the next crossing of Murray Creek

Beyond the third crossing, the hike continued going past a few more stream crossings. We also started to notice that the trail had spots where it had split. On one side, it was a horse trail, where I'd imagine the creek crossings were flatter but deeper. Meanwhile, the hiking trail was a bit more uneven and the stream crossings there involved the chance of staying dry through rock hopping, but with the amount of water on Murray Creek on this day, it wasn't likely.

Julie about to traverse the fifth or sixth crossing of Murray Creek Looking back at Murray Canyon as a large horseriding group about coming up upon us Looking back as the horseriding group was getting closer The horseriding group climbing up as it took an alternate trail away from the Murray Canyon Trail that we were on

As we kept forging ahead, we started to see a few more cascades within Murray Creek. The trail momentarily climbed towards a junction, where I was then overtaken by a long horseriding group that had to have had at least 30 horses or so. So while Julie kept pushing ahead, I had to wait it out as they were passing by and taking some trail that climbed up to a rock while deviating from the Murray Canyon Trail that we were on.

One of the cascades that I noticed on Murray Creek Hiking amongst more interesting rock formations along Murray Canyon Catching up to Julie who was about to make the next traverse of Murray Creek Looking upstream at another one of the cascades on Murray Creek

Once that caravan had passed, I managed to catch up to Julie at the next stream crossing as she took her time to roll up her pants and brace herself on the crossing as her bad eczema would most likely be affected with each time the cold water would get on it then dry out and irritate her skin.

Julie about to traverse yet another stream crossing of Murray Creek Looking upstream along Murray Creek at more palm trees and the closing in canyon Checking out another cascade surrounded by impressive cliffs of Murray Canyon Julie figuring out how to get across yet another traverse of Murray Creek

Beyond that stream crossing, the Murray Canyon continued to narrow some more while presenting scenic views of cliffs closing in on the creek while also being backed by the San Jacinto Mountains in the distance. All the while, there were palm trees towering over us and providing some shade from the sun that was starting to come out amongst the cloud cover.

With each stream crossing that we had to perform, the crossings seemed to get trickier and trickier as the water seemed to be deeper. Even when we were determined to push through while getting wet, there were spots where we had to really pay attention to which submerged rocks we had to put our weight on so as to not get our waist wet or risk getting swept away. Periodically, I would have to lift my leg to try to let the accumulated water in my hiking boots spill back out of the high top since the Gore-tex prevent water from escaping out the sides (after all, it was design to prevent water from getting in the shoes in the first place, except the top). With each time I did this and let the water out, the boots immediately felt lighter, but with all the repeated water exposure, it appeared that the boots had also absorbed the water and would remain heavy for the entirety of this hike.

Julie continuing onwards towards the next stream crossing The next crossing of Murray Creek.  Not sure if this was the eighth or ninth at this point, but we had lost count Looking back at a group of prepared hikers with trekking poles and water shoes crossing Murray Creek while Julie waited on them to pass Looking down at what appeared to be a significant waterfall on Murray Creek Julie making her way up past the first major waterfall on Murray Creek

Eventually, we'd reach what appeared to be a significant waterfall but the trail kind of veered away from it as it climbed steeply up the cliffs. The view of that waterfall looking down was somewhat obstructed and I made a mental note to come back to this waterfall after we were done with the main waterfall.

Looking back down into Murray Canyon after having climbed up past the first major waterfall on Murray Creek Continuing beyond the first major waterfall to go deeper into Murray Canyon Julie traversing yet another crossing of Murray Creek Looking further upstream along Murray Creek towards another series of cascades

Once we got up to the top of this climb, there were still more stream crossings to perform. By this time, we had lost count of how many we had done, but it certainly appeared to be more than the 12 that the guy we had spoken to earlier had warned us about. We also met up with a pair of hikers who had said that there was only about 15 more minutes to go with maybe three more stream crossings. They said we only had to round a bend before we'd finally arrive at the falls.

Julie continuing to scramble and find a way forward, which involved yet another crossing of Murray Creek before these cascades Julie making another crossing of Murray Creek as we were getting very near the end of the official trail Continuing further along the trail after the last stream crossing The sun was starting to come out just as we were about to finally see the main Murray Canyon Falls

Well, we made it this far, and there was no stopping us now.

Finally making it to the end of the Murray Canyon Trail Our first look at the main Murray Canyon Falls Another look at the main Murray Canyon Falls as the surrounding rocks were briefly lit up by the sun Closer look at the main Murray Canyon Falls

Finally, at 12:25pm, we made it to the signposted end of the trail. From this spot, we could clearly see up ahead that there were two tiers of the Murray Canyon Falls. The immediately tier was wide and we saw some people make a slide down it as a shortcut. Right behind this falls was another falls that appeared to be around 15ft tall or so. I wasn't sure if there were yet more waterfalls further up ahead, but the scramble to even make it up past this first of the two waterfalls looked dicey.

Checking out some folks making the dicey scramble to get past the first of the main waterfalls to get up to the somewhat hidden one right behind it The main Murray Canyon Falls or Seven Sisters Falls Contextual view of Murray Canyon Falls Attractive long-exposure look at the Murray Canyon Falls

I didn't feel like taking the risk though it appeared there were quite a few other folks who did take the risk and pushed forward to that last waterfall. But an injury here would be bad news as it would be difficult to get out of here with say a broken leg or ankle or something if that dicey scramble somehow didn't work out.

Contextual landscape view of the main Murray Canyon Falls Another contextual view of the Murray Canyon Falls When these folks started to hike downstream, Julie and I momentarily had the Murray Canyon Falls to ourselves Last look back at the Murray Canyon Falls before we hiked downstream

Bottom line was that Julie and I were content with the views from the end of the trail while watching larger kids and adults playing around the area. Someone was kind enough to take a couple shot of Julie and I as a return favor for Julie helping a foursome of people taking their group shot. And so we lingered here for a pretty solid 30 minutes or so before we headed back downstream as Julie was fretting about having a lunch that was too late in the day.

Hiking back downstream after having our fill of the main Murray Canyon Falls Julie about to make the steep descent below the first of the main Murray Canyon Falls Right in front of the first main Murray Canyon Falls Checking out the left side of the first main Murray Canyon Falls Checking out the right side of the first main Murray Canyon Falls

As we headed back downstream, we'd eventually go back down the steep part of the trail and that was when I told Julie that I would momentarily scramble back upstream to get closer to the first waterfall. Julie took this opportunity to rest a little bit while tending to her eczema on her shins.

As I crossed the creek and headed up to the base of that first waterfall, I encountered a trio of folks where the elder person appeared to be a Native American from the area watching over a couple of kids. He told me that there was another waterfall further upstream though I told him that I had already seen that one. He nodded knowingly, then asked where I was from. When I told him Los Angeles, he nodded and then pushed on to catch up with the kids after we exchanged smiles and parted ways.

The split waterfall that I dubbed the first of the main Murray Canyon Falls After having our fill of the Murray Canyon Falls, we continued hiking downstream Descending towards one of the stream crossings on the return hike Approaching the interesting rock formations near where the mule train had veered away from the Murray Canyon Trail

Once I got to the base of the first waterfall at 1:05pm, I was pretty much here all alone.

This first waterfall was really a split waterfall as the creek appeared to have been split by a big rock. With the foliage all tangled up in front of the falls, it was hard to get a good contextual shot of it. Instead, I took close-up shots and videos before crossing the creek and checking out the thinner cascade on the other side of the rock splitting the creek.

Julie approaching the familiar palm trees flanking Murray Creek Julie continuing to hike alongside the impressive palm trees with black bark from the Mountain Fire Approaching the first stream crossing, which was quite scenic as we continued on This rock looked like it had a large chunk come right off

After having my fill of this spot, I then scrambled back downstream and caught up with Julie. While the remainder of the hike seemed like it went quickly (I guess because it was mostly downhill at this point and we knew where we were supposed to cross the creek), there were plenty of other people headed the other way. And there were still yet more people who turned back at some of the earlier stream crossings incredulous that there were many more of these.

The solar-powered contraption near the first stream crossing of Murray Creek Back at the flat desert part of the trail with blue skies starting to show more and more of itself Continuing further along the desert part of the hike on the return Looking up at the impressive San Jacinto Mountains as the clouds were lifting

Finally at 2pm, Julie and I made it back to the trailhead. At this point, we were glad to let our feet breathe though my boots were also starting to chafe my shins and ankles. I knew that the boots were in pretty bad shape now, but I was also intending to ruin them some more on another hike later this year to Portrero John Falls, which I had read would also involve getting the feet wet. Julie was going to get me some new hiking boots anyways at REI on their next Spring sale.

Finally approaching the trailhead for Murray Canyon Julie getting closer to the Murray Canyon trailhead We finally made it back to the Murray Canyon Trailhead The so-called Pride Rock of Andreas Canyon

Now that I was back in my comfortable Chaco sandals, my feet could breathe again while the gross boots were in the garbage bags as we were now hoping to get them drying on the balcony of our room sooner rather than later.

Closer look at one of the eccentric formations near the so-called Pride Rock at Andreas Canyon Looking towards Palm Springs from the picnic area of Andreas Canyon Looking towards the far southern end of Palm Springs from Andreas Canyon

Still, with some protest from Julie, I wanted to check out the West Fork Falls, which I had noticed on the trail signs and on our own map that came with our admission to this area. Since we were already here, we mind as well see what that place was all about especially since it didn't involve a major hike to reach.

And so we drove the 3 miles or so from the Murray Canyon and Andreas Canyon Picnic Area towards the Trading Post near Palm Canyon. The drive was pretty scenic as it climbed up towards the trading post where there were quite a few cars parked. I guess we showed up late enough in the day that we managed to score a parking spot right across from the trading post at about 2:25pm.

The busy car park by the Trading Post within Indian Canyons Looking towards the far end of the car park by the Trading Post Looking down towards Palm Canyon from the Trading Post The signposted trailhead at the end of the car park for West Fork Falls

Julie decided to stay in the car while I went to see what the West Fork Falls was all about. But before I got started in earnest, I checked out the Trading Post area, which to my surprise, had a nice view of Palm Canyon immediately down below. It looked inviting to go down the switchbacks and amongst the towering palm trees below, but I knew that I couldn't do it at this moment. Perhaps there might also be a waterfall on the trail down there further on, but that would have to wait for another time.

Hiking between some huge rocks en route to the West Fork Falls Looking ahead at the West Fork Falls, which was mostly obstructed Closer look at the context of West Fork Falls Direct look at the uppermost tier of the West Fork Falls from the secluded spot

So after having my fill of the Palm Canyon vistas, I then headed towards the very end of the car park by the trading post, where I saw a sign near the restrooms for "West Fork Falls". As I continued on, the trail rounded a corner and went between some rocks before descending towards the three-tiered cascade. It was difficult to get a clean look at the whole context of the cascade, but it was certainly no slouch as I could hear the rush of the water down below.

I took some photos (against the sun) and some videos of the falls as I was approaching it. But I also encountered a pair of hikers who told me that I should take the time to scramble up to this pretty neat secluded spot right between the top and middle waterfall. I thanked them for the tip and was on the lookout for it as I was exploring a way to best photograph and experience the mostly obstructed West Fork Falls.

West Fork Falls from the secluded spot Looking back at the hole I had to duck through in order to get to the attractive secluded spot at the West Fork Falls Looking downstream from the West Fork Falls Another contextual look at the West Fork Falls when the sun was momentarily hidden by clouds

Sure enough, I would eventually get to an area where there was a hole that appeared to be possible to climb through. And once I was past that hole (really more like rocks wedged against each other creating the appearance of a hole), that was when I knew I was in the spot those hikers were talking about. And so I documented this part for a few minutes before I was making my way out as another pair of hikers saw where I had scrambled from and saw for themselves that there was certainly a nice secluded spot to check out.

Last contextual look at West Fork Falls before I headed back to the Trading Post Looking downhill at the road and canyon mouth leading to the Trading Post The trailhead for Palm Canyon Trail Looking down Palm Canyon towards its mouth

By 2:50pm, I returned to the parked car and rejoined Julie. Now for sure, we were going to have a later-than-desired lunch (especially since we had a 6pm dinner reservation at LG's Steakhouse), but Julie needed to take her supplements and meds. And so we promptly made our way back into town where we were wavering between going with some organic place in the south end of downtown Palm Springs or this other spot called the Chicken Ranch, which was more closer to the north end of downtown Palm Springs.

Last look into Palm Canyon before leaving Entrance to the Trading Post Looking back at the Trading Post before we left The grilled veggies at the Chicken Ranch in Palm Springs

We'd eventually settle on the Chicken Ranch, and we'd get into the restaurant at 3:20pm. Julie was excited to have the rotisserie chicken there as she was afraid that she wouldn't be able to have anything in any of the other restaurants, including that organic place she had eyed earlier. Anyways, at the Chicken Ranch, we shared a whole rotisserie chicken, got some grilled veggies (while Julie got a steamed string beans dish to keep it clean), and I got a guilty pleasure of having some chocolate chip cookie a la BJ's style with a vanilla bean ice cream scoop on top for dessert.

The whole rotisserie chicken from the Chicken Ranch that was very moist and delicious Julie's string beans from the Chicken Ranch, which was prepared clean as she wanted My indulgent dessert of chocolate-chip cookies with a scoop of ice cream a la BJ's style The Chicken Ranch in Palm Springs

The food was very good and very clean. Julie asked if the chicken was brined, and the worker said that they brine it for two days. No wonder why the chicken was so moist. Even the usually-dry breast was moist. So we made a mental note of this spot and would definitely come back here when we'd bring Tahia here on a day trip in the coming weeks, I'm sure.

Heading into downtown Palm Springs from the Hyatt At about 5pm, we happened to make it just in time for some complimentary cocktails, which was sangria. The cocktail hour was only between 4-5pm. I ended up drinking Julie's and my own (since Julie couldn't have it but got one anyways), and then we finally made it back to our room, where we could finally put the disgusting wet boots on the balcony to let it dry in the desert air. I had a feeling it won't dry overnight, but at least it was better to let the low humidity of the desert do its thing as opposed to the frigid AC in the room.

By about 5:40pm, we were dressed for dinner and opted to walk into the happening downtown area just to soak up the atmosphere while making our way to the LG's Steakhouse. We'd eventually get right to the restaurant just in time for our 6pm reservation. Over the past few trips where we'd have to eat out for dinner, Julie would always pick steak houses so she could eat steak prepared without peppers or garlic or butter, and accompany that with steamed veggies to ensure she wouldn't get a flare up from her gut condition. Meanwhile, I'd go with my rib-eye steak, which I've found would always have more flavor than filet mignons.

Twilight in downtown Palm Springs Twilight in downtown Palm Springs was already pretty happening as we were walking to LG's for dinner My rib-eye steak from LG's Julie's filet mignon from LG's

The service was a bit on the slow side and the menu was quite expensive, but that allowed us ample time to bask in our accomplishment for the day and be glad that our change in plans worked out. When we finally got our food, Julie thought that the steak at Morton's was better and cheaper, but since we were talking about Palm Springs, it didn't surprise me that the quality and price equation wasn't on par with a Morton's.

Julie's brussel sprouts at LG's which was prepared cleanly as Julie had asked Looking back at LG's as we had left the restaurant Inside the indulgent Great Shakes Our indulgent Oreo shake was being prepared

By the time dinner was over, I couldn't look at having more food as I was totally stuffed. And yet as we were walking around downtown Palm Springs some more after having left the restaurant, we passed by this place called Great Shakes or something like that. Julie checked the Yelp reviews and decided we should go inside and check it out. Sure enough, we wound up getting some kind of Oreo cookie shake which also had whipped cream and a donut, while I asked to substitute out the salted caramel with fudge.

Indeed, the shake was quite thick and delicious, and Julie even said she had never seen a shake so thick before. I guess the good reviews were warranted. And I sure made room for this guilty pleasure despite being so stuffed.

Looking back at Great Shakes as we were leaving Downtown Palm Springs still happening late Saturday night Julie about to enter the Elena Bulatova Fine Art Exhibit in Palm Springs The so-called garden area of the Elena Bulatova Exhibit

As we continued meandering about slowly through downtown Palm Springs towards our hotel, we made another stop at some fine art gallery by Elena Bulotova or something like that. It seemed like a modern art gallery, but I had overheard one of the artists inside telling prospective buyers that the art pieces here were really made out of waste. In other words, they were ordinary waste products repurposed into works of art.

The garden area of the Elena Bulatova Exhibit with full moon in the distance There was even a "garden" area out back where we could see some of the outdoor displays while also checking out the full moon shining brightly overhead.

Last look at the garden area of the Elena Bulatova Exhibit in Palm Springs under the full moon When all was said and done, it was about 8:30pm when we returned to our hotel room. The evening felt somewhat magical though I'm sure in our younger days, we could have spent more time out and about amongst the nightlife. But now that we were older parents, I guess those days have passed us by and we were content just to spend quality time with each other without worrying about keeping Tahia in line (especially at meal time when she would be picky and pull out all the stops to avoid eating the healthy foods).

Back at the room, we got cleaned up and finally crashed as we both were quite tired from our adventure-filled day.

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Day 3 (February 12, 2017 - Los Angeles, California): "Righting A Wrong"

Once again, it was about 7:25am when I awoke after having slept in. Julie said that she had already been up as she was thinking about errands back at home. But she opened up the curtains where I could immediately see the somewhat warm glow of the rising sun shining on the San Jacinto Mountains. I'm sure had I been up an hour earlier, the glow would have been even softer and warmer than it was now, but it was still scenic nonetheless.

The morning glow on the San Jacinto Mountains as seen from the balcony of our room at the Hyatt in Palm Springs When I went outside onto the balcony, I felt the boots and it appeared that Julie's Keens were almost completely dry (albeit a little damp in a few spots). However, my hiking boots were still quite wet around the high top area and even a bit on the inside. I guess it wasn't going to be pleasant hiking in these, but at least my lone pair of wool socks were dry so perhaps that might wick away some of the moisutre.

Our drying boots and insoles from our wet hike at Murray Canyon yesterday Julie spent the better part of the morning getting all freshened up and packing up. I was helping her get some of the stuff together while also watching the 30-for-30 on Bo Jackson and flipping between that and SportsCenter where it seemedl like all the talk was about Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in last night's game.

We ultimately decided to nuke some of the leftovers and that would serve as our breakfast instead of dining in the restaurant downstairs and spending more money.

By about 9:30am, we were all packed up, checked out, and made it back to our car. We then drove out and headed north on the Hwy 111 towards the I-10 before exiting at the Hwy 243 heading south towards Idyllwild. We were headed back towards Fuller Mill Creek as Julie and I had attempted to do it some 6 years before but managed to somehow miss the main waterfall. The whiff was so bad that I didn't even bother doing a waterfall write-up for the Fuller Mill Creek Falls. So now it was time to right that wrong.

Looking towards the Riverside County basin Closer look at the Riverside basin on a clear and sunny day The Hwy 243 en route to both Fuller Mill Creek and Idyllwild Looking towards the snow-capped mountains just north of the I-10 as seen from the Hwy 243

After going up the familiar winding road of the 243, we'd eventually get to spots where we could glimpse to our right towards the Riverside County basin. I recalled six years prior that the basin was so smoggy that it was hard to see through the black haze. But on a day like today, there was no such haze and the views were beautiful.

Eventually at 10:30am, we'd make it to the shady pullout before the entrance to the Fuller Mill Creek Picnic Area. There was still some snow at the pullout and the gate to the picnic area was closed. Across the Hwy 243, there was the familiar signs saying the Fuller Mill Creek area was closed to protect some yellow-legged frogs that made the federally endangered species list.

The trailhead for the Fuller Mill Creek Falls scramble On the wide trail initially for the Fuller Mill Creek Falls Closure sign indicating that the closure was in effect from March 1 through October 31 at Fuller Mill Creek My first glimpse at the legitimate Fuller Mill Creek Falls

Julie was tired and needed a nap so she stayed in the car. Meanwhile, I wore the wet boots, brought a couple bottles of water that could fit in my hiking pants pockets, and brought the camera. I immediately crossed the highway and went past the closure signs and onto the wide trail as it descended towards Fuller Mill Creek.

There were tree trunks sprawled across the trail indicating that the authorities really didn't want people here. However, when I got to the bottom of the descent and paid more attention the closure signs, I noticed that the closure was really in effect from March 1 to October 31 - i.e. pretty much the time of year when Fuller Mill Creek would have water. But since it was only mid-February, I guess it was fine that I could do a little exploring here, right? Or at least, I shouldn't get a citation for being down here at this time, right?

Obstructed view of the context of Fuller Mill Creek Falls Frontal look at the falls fronting the main Fuller Mill Creek Falls Direct look at the main part of Fuller Mill Creek Falls Partial look at the main part of Fuller Mill Creek Falls with one of those closure signs to the right Closeup of the main Fuller Mill Creek Falls

Anyways, as the road trail started to disappear, I was back at that familiar quandary about how to proceed from this point forward. I recalled the last time we did this that we also had trouble here about where to scramble next. But this time, I decided to scramble alongside the creek where possible (though the water was rushing quite a bit), and it didn't take long before I saw up ahead that there was a very attractive chute waterfall with some smaller tiers fronting it.

This must be the Fuller Mill Creek Falls that had alluded us some six years ago!

Direct view of the main Fuller Mill Creek Falls Looking down at the profile of the lower waterfall on Fuller Mill Creek Long-exposed direct look at the Fuller Mill Creek Falls Looking back at the scramble it took to get close to the Fuller Mill Creek Falls

As I scrambled further, I saw more of those closure signs placed on trees alongside the creek. The scrambling continued to get tricky as I found myself balancing on wet logs and wet rocks. But I'd eventually get towards the middle of the stream where there was a little island reached by a fallen log. At this point, I took the photos and videos taking in the main waterfall as well as the lower tier just downstream of it.

I knew that I was in the right place this time because I saw the ledge where Ann Marie Brown's book showed someone crouching before the falls. I was finally able to scramble to that spot to get a closer look at the falls after some more dicey scrambling amongst wet logs and wet rocks with moss on them.

Looking back at the start of the rough part of the Fuller Mill Creek Falls excursion from the end of the wide part of the trail Looking back at the wide trail prior to the rough part of the Fuller Mill Creek scramble Returning to the Hwy 243 About to cross the Hwy 243 and rejoin Julie at the car

The whole time I was here, I kept asking myself, "How on earth did we miss this falls the first time around?" Indeed, it seemed like the scrambling was too steep surrounding this falls, and yet somehow we managed to scramble around this falls without ever knowing it was here all along. I recalled that we scrambled quite a bit further upstream where there was some 5-ft waterfall, but it turned out that it was unnecessary in the first place.

Well, now that this excursion could finally be considered a success, I returned to the parked car by the Fuller Mill Creek Picnic Area gate at 11:10am, and now we were finally headed back down towards the I-10 and eventually to home. We'd be back by 1:05pm, which was just in time for a healthy lunch locally prepared at home...

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