In any case, our original intent was to visit Trail Canyon Falls, which was one of the nicer waterfalls in the Southern California area, IMHO. But one quick look at the trail conditions made us realize that it was closed thanks to the Station Fire. I guess that’ll have to be for another time.
So instead, we decided to re-visit both Temescal Canyon Falls and Solstice Canyon Falls. Both of these falls were old haunts we hadn’t seen since our early days of waterfalling so we figured with the decent rains we’ve gotten this Winter, we mind as well take advantage of the favorable waterflow conditions.
But it wasn’t until after 9:30am when we finally left the house and got started. This was definitely a later departure than I had hoped, and the noticeable amount of traffic already out on the roads was a reminder of why. Nonetheless, the driving was still relatively smooth and we made it to PCH before 10am, where there was some commotion on the beach near the Santa Monica Pier. It looked like some volleyball tournament, but at least the traffic didn’t get so bad yet so as to cause any disruption in our plans.
By 10:10am, we finally got to the car park for the Temescal Gateway State Park, where we paid our $7 day use fee and then joined the already crowded scene to go hiking.
After getting past the Stewart Hall Retreat building and some dorm-like cabins, we were right on the trail along with many other groups of hikers. It was certainly not a peaceful hike and Julie wanted to walk fast and try to remain ahead of the noise as well as the slower hikers. It was yet another reminder of why we prefer to have early starts.
The trail started off wide and seemed to have a lot of infrastructure (many of which seemed new). We figured rich areas probably get good facilities.
As the trail sloped upwards more steeply, the hike got a little quieter but the trail was also narrower. Thus, as I was busy taking photos, I found myself separated from Julie who pushed ahead as I was behind a group of females and couldn’t really pass them.
Eventually at some point, they realized that I was behind them and allowed me to pass. But not before woo-ing me and calling me the “handsome trailblazer.”
It felt rather embarrassing as I wasn’t sure whether they were complementing me or being sarcastic. But I chose to take it all as a complement and I guess it was good for the ego that some ladies still found me attractive. I do know that “trailblazer” comment must’ve been the hiking attire I was wearing.
Anyways, within a few more minutes, I caught up to Julie again and it wasn’t that much longer before we heard the sound of rushing water and knew we must’ve gotten to the waterfall.
There was a footbridge over the stream with multiple small tiers of the falls coming down one after another. Lots of people were already here checking out the scene, but there was also a quieter spot beneath one of the lowermost cascades.
The catch was that you had to make a fairly steep scramble to get there, which I gladly did.
Julie was up above the busier area. I was joined by a group of four Indian guys, and after I was done taking photos, I did notice an interesting lizard next to the scrambling path on the way back up.
And from there, I took some photos while beneath the footbridge for some more photos and movies. But eventually we got our fill of the falls and also decided not to continue on this hike towards panoramic views of the ocean. We talked ourselves out of it given the time constraint as well as the fairly hazy skies despite the lack of clouds in the sky.
Julie and I spent a few more minutes right So we quickly made our way back down to the car park being careful not to slip and fall in the narrow and steep section with lots of rock pebbles gathering right in the middle of the trail. We noticed a few trail runners who handled this section with ease (just like the last time we were here many years ago when the conditions were far more disappointing).
By 11:30am, we returned to the car park and promptly left for Solstice Canyon.
The drive up to Solstice Canyon seemed like it didn’t take long, but PCH was definitely busy at this time.
And by around 12pm, my fear of a crowded trail were founded when we hung a right onto Corral Canyon Road and then immediately saw that all the overflow parking spots were full. So we ended up finding a makeshift parking spot somewhere near PCH and walked all the way to the official car park.
We did hear some frogs making their “hrrbit” sounds, which I thought was kind of reassuring since I knew they’re typically endangered. However, the added walk to the official car park did seem like we added at least a half-mile each way.
Once we got to the full car park, we noticed some expensive homes perched way up on top of the ridge neighboring the canyon we were in. I wondered whether the owners of these homes were really rolling the dice with fires considering just how common bushfires are in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Anyways, we were on the mostly paved trail to the desired falls, which felt much quieter than the Temescal Canyon Falls experience. I chalked that up to the close proximity of that area to residences as well as the Santa Monica Pier.
In contrast, this trail was flanked by attractive wildflowers. We both had ourselves an apple as we hiked to hold us over knowing that we’d go for lunch after working through this excursion.
We did see some evidence of past fires here, and every once in a while. And the trail did seem more exposed to the sun that I remembered in the past. And every so often, we saw a few more exclusive homes perched atop neighboring ridges, which once again seemed like they were just asking for fire damage year after year.
At around the half-way point of the hike, we noticed a mostly destroyed home that once belonged to Henry Keller. Apparently, this house was meant to be a hunting home, but Keller had encountered fires in the past that destroyed the home. So he eventually built the next version out of stone and tin, and it apparently was able to withstand some fires, but ultimately succumbed to one later on.
We didn’t linger here for too long.
Beyond this part of the trail, we just proceeded forward where it seemed like the trail forked in three places. We knew we just had to follow the stream against the direction of flow to get to the falls. But the path we took wasn’t the wide concrete or gravel path for the time being. Instead, we had to cross the creek twice, but at least the way was flatter than the wider path that was above us which did involve some climbing.
Several minutes further, we finally encountered what’s left of the Roberts Home. There were still palm trees standing before the ruins providing a hint of the pseudo tropical ambience in the desert-like environment.
Right behind the remains of the house was the Solstice Canyon Falls. I think given the proximity of the falls to the house, this was probably a private waterfall of the Roberts.
The falls itself wasn’t particularly impressive (which was consistent with my recollections), but it was definitely easy to get here (aside from the parking situation). Still, Julie and I wondered why there was such an easy, maintained paved trail to get to this waterfall since the falls itself didn’t seem to justify such infrastructure.
And that was when it dawned on Julie and I that the concrete path was probably the driveway for the Roberts Home. Now it all made sense!
Anyways, Julie and I hastily made our way back to the car park, and we finally got back to the car at around 1:40pm. We were hot and sweaty from all the walking we did, plus it was an unusually warm day. But we were quite hungry by now, and it was time to check out Neptune’s Net.
Even though Malibu Seafood was right next door, we had been here multiple times and we had been meaning to check out Neptune’s Net. So we made that day today. But I did fear it would be real crowded and we might not even end up eating until well after 2pm.
So we continued driving north on PCH, and the restaurant was definitely farther than I had hoped. In fact, it was quite close to La Jolla Canyon Falls, but there was no way we were going to fall for that waterfall again.
And sure enough, Neptune’s Net was packed. Lots of Harleys were parked on both sides of the street as well as right in front of the restaurant. Several cars and trucks were also parked amongst the bikes away from the restaurant. It was clear that we had to find parallel parking on the fast-moving PCH on the other side of the highway, and then cross the highway by foot to the restaurant.
We got here at 2pm, and the wait in line seemed like it took forever. I sensed there was probably more tatoos and leather covering skin in this one place than anywhere else up and down the coastline.
Plus, I guess it was probably the stress of trying to find a place to sit that made the wait seem forever (though in actuality it was probably no more than a half-hour). But eventually, as I helped Julie buy some fresh shrimp on top of the fish ‘n chips, chowder, and crab cake burger, she managed to find a table. And so we finally got our lunch (albeit it was after 2:30pm).
We had read the reviews that the food here wasn’t that great. So we came in with lowered expectations. However, we thought the food wasn’t bad at all, and we were glad we came here.
When we were done eating, we spent a few minutes looking at the ocean on the other side of the highway before returning to the car, and finally heading for home. We drove off at a little after 3pm and didn’t make it home until around 4:40pm.
Obviously I missed the Selection Sunday show to see which schools made the Big Dance in the NCAA Basketball Tournament (something I typically look forward to every March), but our selection of excursions and ways to spend time together certainly trumped anything on TV, that’s for sure!
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