Our Pink-Eyed Pea

Tahia and Julie on the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail on a hot early Spring day

6-April 2014: ...there was a bit of unusual circumstances on our way out as we heard a loud circling chopper hovering right above the canyon. It was kind of ironic that we saw some memorial dedicated to "Arturo" shortly before we started hearing the choppers, and it got us wondering if someone was trying to reach the upper waterfalls that people always said were there, but the authorities discouraged (prohibited) people from doing....

We thought last week we were getting a late start, but Julie spontaneously decided we should do a hike on this day even though it wouldn't be until 11:25am when we finally left the house. Conspiring to keep us in on this rather hot Spring day was that Julie had the flu and chills all day yesterday while Tahia was struggling with pink eye. I didn't mind staying in on this day considering there was quite a bit of work to do.

Nonetheless, Julie got Tahia ready and despite my reservations, we pressed forward knowing that there was a high likelihood of traffic as well as a high likelihood that the parking situation would suck at Eaton Canyon. Yet with the successes of last week at Paradise Falls, we thought it might be another opportunity for Tahia to visit yet another waterfall while she was hiking by herself. However, I knew that this would be a bit of a tougher test than last week since the first part of the hike was exposed to the heat and sun while the last half-mile or so involved some creek crossing and undulations from going up and down rocks.

It wasn't until about 12:30pm when we finally arrived at the Eaton Canyon Natural Area, but seeing that finding parking at the usual main car park was a lost cause, we saw a sign indicating there was overflow parking available. So we didn't hesitate to follow that sign, and soon enough, we saw an arm blocking further progress. A sign said "Exit Only" and I wasn't sure if we were going the right way or not.

Just as I was about to back up, a cop pulled up behind me. I think he made sure I wasn't going to back up. So as I proceeded forward, the arm went up and we were in the overflow parking area. It was the first time we had even been in this part of the car park, but it looked like there was plenty of space down here.

Tahia seeing a cop circling the overflow parking area The entrance to the overflow parking area at Eaton Canyon Julie and Tahia hiking on the exposed trail between the wash and the main car park

It wasn't until nearly 1pm when I finished having a Lee's Sandwich that we bought to go while Julie was putting on a diaper for Tahia (just in case even though she was pretty potty trained by now). At that point, we began our hike and we could feel straight away that it was not going to be an easy hike given the heat.

Tahia catching up to Julie on the hike between the car park and the dry wash Looking across the dry wash Julie and Tahia nearing the end of the start of the hike as we started to see homes bordering the wash

Nonetheless, we let Tahia walk by herself (at her insistence) but progress was slow. We'd frequently try to get her motivated to catch up to either mommy or me as she'd often run then stop and pay attention to something for a while then realize she was behind before galloping or running to us to catch up.

Julie and Tahia walking around the sign at the end of the official car park Tahia pointing out a sign showing poison oak and rattlesnakes Julie and Tahia walking towards the wash crossing near the start of the hike

Given this slow progress, it wasn't until about an hour later did we even reach a sign that said the waterfall was another 0.5-mile away along with something along the lines of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are right here. Please help protect it." I never recalled it taking that long to get to this point, but I guess that was the good with the bad when it came to letting Tahia do the hike on her own.

Closer look at the sign pointing out rattlesnakes and poison oak Further exacerbating the complications on this hot day was that we were running out of water since Tahia demanded more water. So while I was rationing water, Julie was asking me how much I had left. I knew we might be in a little bit of trouble if we didn't even make it to the waterfall yet and we were already about to run out of water.

So eventually when we got near the bridge at the mouth of Eaton Canyon, we decided to let Tahia ride the child carrier, which we smartly brought just in case. We didn't need it last week, but for sure given the circumstances, we needed it this time. I guess it demonstrated how important it was to get an early start because it seemed like everything was against us - the heat, the lack of shade, the crowds, the parking situation, etc.

Even when we entered the canyon, there wasn't a whole lot of shade, which was something we typically looked forward to in all the times we had done this hike before. So without that respite, the water situation was starting to make me a little uncomfortable as my mouth was getting dry.

Julie and Tahia on the track alongside the wash leading to the mouth of Eaton Canyon Julie and Tahia approaching the bridge at the mouth of Eaton Canyon Sign saying we still had a half-mile to go, but contained a wise saying about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness being right here

Finally at around 2:10pm, I was relieved when we made it to Eaton Canyon Falls once again. Even though I was getting sick of this hike (we must have done this at least over a half-dozen times or so in the past few years), it was still nice to chill out before the falls even though it was immensely crowded. But that didn't matter as Tahia was able to say to us, "That's a big waterfall!" which was nice to see that she understood what she was seeing.

There were a lot of people on the trail even within Eaton Canyon at this creek crossing The drawback of having such a late start on the Eaton Canyon Falls hike was that the canyon no longer provided shade and relief from the hot sun The really busy scene at Eaton Canyon Falls

Besides, she was the one who got our minds into doing this as she was looking forward to doing another hike when we were chilling out over the weekend.

So even though we were running out of the water that we brought (I knew I was down to my last half bottle), we were at least chilling out eating clementines, which was another source of water. Tahia was busy dancing knowing that we were filming the falls and herself (she always like to perform in front of the camera), and we chilled out here for about almost a half-hour before it was time to put little girl back in the child carrier and make our way out at around 2:35pm.

The hike back out was mostly uneventful as we frequently saw people smiling and amused that Tahia was being carried by me. However, there was a bit of unusual circumstances on our way out as we heard a loud circling chopper hovering right above the canyon. It was kind of ironic that we saw some memorial dedicated to "Arturo" shortly before we started hearing the choppers, and it got us wondering if someone was trying to reach the upper waterfalls that people always said were there, but the authorities discouraged (prohibited) people from doing.

Looking up at what appeared to be a rescue chopper that was circling the canyon on our way out We never did it, but it got us wondering why the chopper was here. Shortly thereafter, we saw a crew of at least a half-dozen or so firemen coming up the trail. So it was either a rescue or someone might have succumbed to the heat. It was amazing how we had done this hike so many times yet this might have been one of the most taxing experiences given the hot and dry weather (and drought that we were experiencing).

As we exited the canyon, we even saw some ambulance and parademics parked in a very open area of the track that seemed wide enough to be a helipad. But aside from that, Julie and I quickly made our way down the trail towards the car park. We would eventually make it back to the car at 3:30pm by which time my mouth was very dry and all the water was gone (most of it went to Tahia and Julie).

Julie leading us past the main car park towards the overflow car parking area We were really looking forward to going to DTF (that's Din Tai Fung the dumpling restaurant and not the Jersey Shore interpretation), but Julie wanted me to stop by a liquor store so we could pick up some water as we figured the Chinese service might be lacking so we'd end up getting lots more tea than ice water.

We eventually made it to DTF at 3:55pm, which seemed to be a good time to come as there seemed to be fewer cars and we had no trouble finding parking. We still had to wait for about 15 minutes or so because they insisted on seating us in a table that seated 3 or 4 people even though there were quite a few empty tables in the restaurant. They even seated a party of six well before us.

Still, we weren't in any particular hurry. We just wanted to unwind and chill out for a bit while enjoying our moment as a family on this Spring day.

We'd eventually leave the restaurant at around 5pm and by then, we saw the lobby got crowded once again. I guess we showed up just before the next wave of people started showing up for dinner. And with that, we drove home uneventfully. We also had ourselves a Class 302 shave ice while Julie couldn't help herself with buying more 85 degrees Chinese bakery stuff. We then picked up Julie's mom, who had just returned by bus and waited for us, and by about 6pm, we were finally home to call it a day.

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