Judging from the good feeling we had last week at Tahquitz Falls, we thought we could ride this momentum into Idyllwild and bag a couple more waterfalls we hadn’t seen before. The only bummer from the last trip was that I was coming down with a nasty cold.
With my cold pretty much over, it was time to get out and about again…
By now, we were starting to get into a routine with Tahia. Her wake-up time was around 6am and we spent that time feeding her, getting all the pre-prepared bottles ready for a full day, and bring all the diapers and other things necessary to get things going.
So by 7:30am, we were out the door and headed to my parents’ place. We were going to bring Mom along just in case the hikes were too ambitious for bringing Tahia.
We eventually got there shortly before 8am and it wasn’t until about 8:15am when we finally left for the excursion of the day.
The drive was pretty much familiar like last week as we took nearly the same route towards the I-10. However, instead of going all the way to Cabazon then Palm Springs, we got off the Hwy 243 and headed south towards Idyllwild.
Hwy 243 was much narrower and twistier as it wound its way up through some bouldery mountains and eventually into the San Bernardino National Forest. This part of the San Bernardinos we had never been to before.
The sunny day was proving to be yet another warm day though we were already at about 4000 or 5000ft so the air was a little crisper and cooler. But when we stole a glance to our right in the direction of Riverside County, we could see a thick blanket of dark haze.
There was no doubt that that was the accumulation of the dirty Los Angeles smog, and boy were we glad we were able to get some relief from that mess. But we’d be breathing that crap soon enough when we had to return.
Eventually, we reached a turnoff for several campgrounds including Dark Canyon. But by 10am, we got to the turnoff for Dark Canyon only to be immediately met with a closure gate that prevented further vehicular access.
Thinking it probably wasn’t much further beyond this gate, Mom and I went for a walk to see if we could quickly bag this series of cascades before continuing on to Idyllwild for lunch and then possibly bagging Fuller Mill Creek Falls before going home. Julie stayed behind in the car to watch and feed Tahia.
After what seemed like an unusually long time walking (maybe 20-30 minutes), it became painfully obvious that maybe this drive to the campground was a little farther than what was practical. Certainly we had already gone close to a mile one-way downhill and we’d had to get this back.
So I stole another glance at the Ann Marie Brown book and that was when I realized that it was an additional 1.5 miles from the gate to the campground. That meant it was 3 miles round trip, and when you add that with the 2 miles round trip of scrambling, it would be a 7-mile round trip affair!
Thus, Mom and I turned back and rejoined Julie and Tahia at 10:50am. It was a nice walk, but in this case, it was just a case of bad timing. I guess they open up the campground in May (wonder if the water will be less by then), though I wondered whether April (now) should’ve been just as good…
WAS IT THE ONE?
So having declared Dark Canyon Falls a loss, we backtracked for a few minutes towards the Fuller Mill Creek Picnic Area, arriving at 11am. However, there was a wide bridge with large pullout next to it, and we figured that that was the place to park the car to do this next excursion for the Fuller Mill Creek Waterfall. The pullout was nice and shady and there was a couple of other cars parked here (I’m guessing those people were also looking for the falls or have already found it as well).
Anyways, this time Mom wanted to stay behind and be with Tahia for a bit. Meanwhile, Julie and I pressed forward with this “easy” hike (at least according to the Ann Marie Brown book).
We started off by going on the far side of the bridge. We had read that the trail on the left side of the creek near the pullout was much rougher, and from looking at the initial steep scrambling descent, we could see that it was a little dodgy.
Once we were at the start of the hike, that was when we were met by a pair of signs indicating the creek was closed to protect the mountain yellow legged frogs. We weren’t sure if the hike was off limits or not, but we definitely had no intention of going in the water anyways. So we pressed on.
But right off the bat, we saw that the hike followed a narrow trail of use with plenty of dead falls and plenty of opportunities to either get lost or lose the trail if we weren’t paying attention. So we were glad we didn’t bring Tahia along on this one.
Plus, the book said it was only a five-minute walk, but it was clear that we spent way longer than five minutes on this hike, which so far involved keeping our balance on narrow sections as well as climbing up some fairly steep scrambles. It was definitely non-trivial.
Given our expectations that this was supposed to be “easy,” we began to doubt whether we were doing this trail right or not. I guess it goes to show you that what might be “easy” for one person may not translate well to others. Either that or the trail must’ve really degenerated since the time the book was written.
Anyways, it was probably about 11:40am when we finally scrambled over to a rather underwhelming waterfall that was probably no more than 10 or 15ft. Everything else on the creek was mostly rapids and bouldery cascades, so this was the only real vertical drop that we’ve seen, and it was an underwhelming one at that.
Julie and I weren’t sure if this was the one, but there was another pair of those yellow-legged frog signs near the creek. So we snapped a few photos, but somehow we wondered if we should keep pressing on.
So that we did.
But only about 10 minutes later, it appeared that the trail either started to disappear into creek or it started to become ill defined. We weren’t sure if we had hit a dead-end or not, but we weren’t very comfortable continuing on. So we turned back thinking that waterfall that we originally saw was the one. Yet somehow we left with a very unfulfilled feeling.
At 12:20pm, we were back at the car. Even finding the way back wasn’t that easy, especially in the parts where we had to scramble down. And apparently Tahia (who was fussy earlier at the Dark Canyon closure) seemed to be in a better mood now.
So with that, we decided to head on over to Idyllwild and see what that town is all about. Mom said that she and Dad took my brother and I here many years ago. But I definitely don’t remember it. Perhaps that might be an indication of whether Tahia will remember any of what we’re doing during these formative years.
We made it into the village at about 12:50pm. While Julie had to tend to some business preparing more milk for Tahia, Mom and I went on a quick walk with Tahia in her stroller just to get a feel for the village’s center while also scoping out a place to eat.
We eventually settled on this place next to a bank with a fairly impressive menu. So we spent the next couple of hours just soaking in the relatively quiet Idyllwild while making sure Tahia was comfortable. We did have some concerns about how Tahia’s rest would be impacted from the loud motorbikes being rev’ed up from time to time.
At 2:55pm, we finally left Idyllwild and headed home. We managed to catch the very end of the Lakers Hornets game in which the Lakers were upset at home. I guess that kind of summed up a rather “not-quite” kind of a day…