But once I did this crossing (again, non-trivial given the high flow), I went onto the ledge, which was very narrow and quite sketchy.
It got to a point where even that trail got blown up, and I decided that I better not press much luck there.
So I turned back thinking that maybe it just wasn’t worth pursuing going to the top of Millard Falls, but just as I was about to leave, I did see a guy (maybe the same guy I saw earlier on) that was heading upstream down below…
It was about 10am when I was finally done with a work meeting that was done remotely.
Sometimes, these things happen when you have other obligations, even though I wanted to have an earlier start to the day to do some hiking on what would typically be my off Friday.
That said, I had hoped to visit Josephine Creek Falls since Julie didn’t get to see it last year.
She actually had a chance to come with me to do it, but she opted not to when she saw how narrow the trail to get there was.
So I figured that it would be a short hike and so the late start wouldn’t affect us as much.
Of course, with the passing of another round of atmospheric river storms, I thought this waterfall might be flowing even better than it did this time last year.
Anyways, it took some time for us to get ready for the day despite the late start mostly because Tahia wasn’t all that motivated to get up out of bed to go on a hike.
She was also starting to feel under the weather, which definitely wasn’t ideal, and we suspected that she might have caught something from her cousins when she stayed over at Mom’s on New Years Day.
Moreover, we knew that her sleeping habits would have gone down the tank, and Julie wasn’t around to enforce limiting her intake of junk food.
So all those things combined surely would have compromised her immune system, and now here we are having to deal with her trying to fight off some kind of infection while she was going to have a very busy month.
Not only did she have lots more academics to deal with, but she also had stuff going on outside of school as well.
Anyways, it wouldn’t be until about 11:05am when we finally started to leave the house, and we started to drive on the 605 north towards the 210.
Unfortunately, when Julie tried routing to the approximate location of the Josephine Creek Falls, she realized that Google Maps said something about a closure of the Big Tujunga Canyon Road!
When she read the specifics about the closure having to do with the intense storms that hit us and washed out a bit of the road at around Gogo Flat, I then had her examine the map to see where Gogo Flat was compared to our trail.
It turned out that it was near Trail Canyon Falls, and the rest of the road east of that point was closed.
So that pretty much nixed our ability to do Josephine Creek Falls, and now we had to think of a plan B.
However, when we got to the 210 westbound, we saw that traffic was already getting pretty dense for this late on a weekday, and eventually, we settled on doing Millard Falls.
After all, Julie kept suggesting that we do this waterfall after the storms though I was less keen on doing repeats that tend to get overly crowded.
Anyways, Nature kind of forced our hand, and so we routed towards the trailhead, but Julie’s GoogleMaps routing had us take some scenic route towards Eaton Canyon Falls.
I knew this was sus because in the past, we’ve never had to go this way to get to the Chaney Trail and ultimately to the Millard Campground parking area.
And so we ultimately made our way past the familiar Eaton Canyon Park, and then followed some local roads before finally getting to the familiar blinking light suspended above the local street right at the turnoff for Chaney Trail.
Then, we followed that road (following some other car in front of us that was also going there), and things were starting to look bleak when we saw that there were already lots of cars parked off the side of the road well before the campground parking.
The car in front of us ultimately stopped and hoped to get a parking spot by the gate fronting the Mt Lowe Road, but I knew better and went around him to keep going downhill to the Millard Campground parking lot.
Down there, we saw that there were actually at least two or three spots, and so all our parking anxieties went out the door once we finally parked the car at 12:05pm.
After spending a few minutes gearing up and taking an introductory video of “before” part of the hike, I decided to bring my Chacos as a backup thinking that Millard Creek might be too swollen to try to avoid getting wet.
Since Josephine Creek Falls didn’t involve any creek crossings, we weren’t exactly prepared with trail runners or other shoes that can get wet.
Both Julie and Tahia wore their low top shoes (Tahia got cousin Josh’s old one that she was rapidly outgrowing while Julie used her Keens) knowing they’d get wet.
I also brought two pairs of trekking poles for balance knowing that there would be a bit of a current in Millard Creek.
And off we went roughly 15 minutes or so after parking the car.
Sure enough after getting through the Millard Campground and the start of the trail adjacent to a concrete ford, it didn’t take long before we climbed up a small dam wall and then encountered our first stream crossing shortly thereafter.
Already with this first crossing, it didn’t look like we were going to be successful with this hike without getting wet at all, and thus I knew right then and there that I had to change out of my hiking boots and into Chacos.
Meanwhile, Tahia and Julie had already grabbed both my pairs of trekking poles and plowed right through without hesitation.
Anyways, it took me some time to change out of my shoes and then get across to the other side, and once I did that, I couldn’t help but notice how prevalent mini-cascades and waterfalls were on Millard Creek.
Sure, most of them were probably no more than 5ft or so, but I guess depending on the definition of what a waterfall is, you could argue that these run-of-the-mill cascades and waterfalls could have been defined as waterfalls.
That said, having done this hike so many times before, I knew that they wouldn’t be classified as such at other times of the year.
And so, we continued on with the hike as it went past an abandoned mine entrance (which I’m sure Julie and Tahia overlooked as it’s real easy to miss), and then we’d have to cross the creek a handful of times more.
In some of those crossings, Tahia tried to do some rock hopping or balancing even despite having the additional poles, but we convinced her that if she slipped and fell (a real possibility), she’d ruin her hoodie, the snacks in her pack, and her glasses.
Indeed, often times in the risk versus reward equation, it’s often better to just go right through than it is to try to incur more risk trying to stay dry.
So once she gave into getting wet and plowing through at each of the stream crossings, the hike actually went by quickly.
Indeed, there were enough creek crossings that I had lost count, but just like it was in 2017 when we last hiked under these kinds of conditions, we knew what to expect.
Thus, it wasn’t like anything caught us off guard and caused us to pause or do something at risk.
I did wonder about whether it was possible to scramble up to the alternate trail, but I thought better of it and just stick with the plan to do the Mt Lowe Road to get up to that alternate trail for the alternate experience of this falls later on.
And eventually by about 1pm, we made it to the gushing Millard Falls, which was bathed in afternoon light.
It was very misty right at the base of the falls, which made taking videos and photos a bit challenging there.
However, with the late afternoon light, there was a rainbow that was definitely showing up in the swirl of mist off to the side of the base of the falls (so we couldn’t get a satisfactory photo with the rainbow sitting right before the falls).
There was a large group of kids and a couple of families also picnicking a little further downstream of the falls, where some of them seemed to have a good time getting wet without any consequence of the coldness of the mist and water here.
I was also recording the whole thing on both AllTrails and Gaia GPS since I wanted to see how it was like using the AllTrails app compared to how I’ve been used to Gaia GPS.
I figured there had to be a reason why so many people like to use AllTrails though as far as the map details and the usability, I tended to prefer Gaia GPS.
One thing that I wasn’t too keen on about AllTrails was how their interface kind of forced you to make ratings, make comments, and share the experience so they really amped up the social aspect of it.
In my mind, that was probably the main reason why a lot of once nice places have become trashed as the app would attract the more disrespectful crowd and essentially come to these places for the social currency instead of the Nature.
It further reinforced in my mind that I guess I can put excursions like Millard Falls on AllTrails but the other ones that are less used and more hidden (and still not on AllTrails yet) should better be left off that app.
That said, I’m sure it’s inevitable that there’s someone who will put it on AllTrails for whatever reason, and then that would be the beginning of the decline of that particular natural attraction or hidden spot.
Anyways, we spent quite a bit of time enjoying this spot as Julie ultimately got what she wanted in terms of re-visiting Millard Falls.
So the return hike went without a hitch though we did see some people do some sketchy maneuverings to try to stay dry (perhaps foolishly).
In one instance, one guy tried to cling to a slippery rock cliff above the water (though he was successful, but the people following him might not be).
When we got back to the very first stream crossing, there was a Filipino family that was foolishly clinging to another slippery rock ledge and then trying to hop across the rushing creek in an effort to stay dry.
But even if that’s not the case, I figured with Julie and Tahia staying at the car, they can be on the lookout or squat in the car even if parked in an illegal spot.
Anyways, we eagerly got out of our wet shoes, and I decided that now was the time to change back into wool socks and my hiking boots for the other hike that I wanted to do.
That other hike was to get up towards the top of Millard Falls for an alternate view (something I hadn’t done since Earth Day in 2010 when the Station Fire had closed the Millard Falls Trail for a few years).
Thus, we parked in one of the emergency clearing areas before the gate, and I had Julie and Tahia be on the lookout for a legal spot to open up.
Once they did that, then we were pretty much OK to let them chill out by the car while I started gearing up for this second part of the Millard Falls adventure.
They weren’t interested in joining me, which was fine because I figured that this wouldn’t be as fulfilling as getting to the base of the falls, which they already did.
Thus, after a few minutes of gearing up again and having a tangerine as a pick-me-up (since we all didn’t have lunch), I then went forward with the hike.
Going past the gate, I was back on the familiar paved Mt Lowe Road (or Mt Lowe Motorway according to Gaia GPS’s map), and I made a couple of quick stops to take in the views of Chaney Trail and the LA basin.
From these spots, I also did some quickie videos as this was starting to become my SOP when it came to doing excursions so I would have a bit more footage and content perhaps to share on media like YouTube.
After a brief interlude of hiking on the paved road (going past some dogs and their owners where one of the dogs thought I intruded on his territory), I then hiked beneath some power lines and ultimately to the Sunset Ridge Trail junction.
The interesting thing about what I observed in this stretch was that mountains opposite Millard Canyon were now pretty green, which was quite a contrast to the first experience on this hike when I came on Earth Day 2010.
Back then, the mountains were so bare that it was quite the unusual sight, but now that it’s about 13 years later, I guess that was ample time for Nature to at least recuperate from that pretty devastating fire.
Now that I got off the paved Mt Lowe Road (which I wasn’t going to pursue to get to Echo Mountain on a much longer hike), I went ahead and pursued the more conventional dirt trail, which pretty much stayed on a ledge above Millard Canyon.
I thought I was going to be all alone on this hike so I was narrating to myself as I was hiking, but then I saw that there were a handful of Korean seniors that were going the other way.
One of them was singing while another was very polite to me as he thanked me for pausing for him so he could pass by.
It didn’t take long before I got to a shaded ledge area with the cross-canyon view of Millard Falls.
This time around, it seemed a bit more underwhelming than the view I got on my first visit, but I think this had more to do with the trees growing larger and obscuring the view of the falls from here.
As I surveyed the scene, I couldn’t help but notice that there were more people further ahead on the trail, but I also noticed someone down closer to the brink of the falls on a separate trail.
However, from at the current trail I was on, there didn’t seem to be a way down there, especially as there seemed to be a landslide or washout further below that would have obliterated the former path to get down there.
Because I swore that I was closer to the brink of the falls back then, but now it seemed like this trail was on a higher trajectory (or maybe I was just misremembering things).
Regardless, after having my fill of this somewhat anticlimactic distant view, I continued on the trail thinking that there ought to be a way to get down to that brink of the falls where I saw that I was at earlier on.
Of course, as I proceed on the Sunset Ridge Trail, I didn’t see a trail branching down to the brink of the falls, and in fact, it kept on its upper trajectory towards a narrowing section somewhere above Millard Falls.
Moreover, I also couldn’t help but notice that there were some blue sprinklers installed just off the ledges of the trail, and I wondered if those were there to try to provide some nourishing moisture perhaps to keep the trail stabilized.
Continuing further on the trail, I then got to a familiar trail fork where the Sunset Ridge Trail forked off to the right towards Echo Mountain, but I also saw a trail branching left for the Dawn Mine.
So that I did, and I continued going on the increasingly rough trail now full of deadfalls and debris from flash floods and washouts, which I expected to be the case whenever you’re in a drainage like this.
Man, I wasn’t expecting to do creek crossings on this excursion, but here I was with no alternative shoes, and now I had to go over with hiking boots on regardless of whether I’d get my feet and socks wet or not.
At least I did have a pair of trekking poles packed in my day pack so I unslung it and used the sticks to help with the balance.
Eventually, I got to the other side with a little splash that did make its way into my boot, but otherwise no harm no foul.
Following this trail a little further, I then got to what appeared to be another crossing leading to what seemed to be a ledge trail on the correct side of the creek (that might lead me to the brink of the falls trail that I saw earlier from a distance).
It got to a point where even that trail got blown up, and I decided that I better not press much luck there.
So I turned back thinking that maybe it just wasn’t worth pursuing going to the top of Millard Falls, but just as I was about to leave, I did see a guy (maybe the same guy I saw earlier on) that was heading upstream down below.
Sure enough, after going across the creek and then down to the next crossing in front of a tiny wide cascade, I then followed the trail towards another creek crossing that put me back on the wrong side of the creek again.
Even though I did see one Asian guy who scrambled down a cliff on the opposite side of the creek right by the brink of the falls, I ultimately decided that I wasn’t going to do this crossing and scramble up there.
So I documented this experience, and then finally headed back as it was now about 3:05pm (and I’m sure Julie and Tahia were starting to get worried at this point).
Anyways, I pretty much just went back the way I came and got another “splash damage” from the first (now last) crossing to get back to the Dawn Mine Trail.
And then I pretty much just followed this back to the Sunset Ridge Trail, and then followed this all the way back to the Mt Lowe Road.
I was getting some phone reception on the Sunset Ridge Trail downstream of the brink of Millard Falls so I did manage to receive Tahia’s texts about when I’d be back.
On the return walk, I was surprised by how many more people were on this road (going in either direction) as well as some people checking out a Mt Lowe sign by a water facility where some water company employee was there too working.
So even up here as I expected there to be far less people than down by Millard Creek for the Millard Falls, I guess it wasn’t an less used as I had expected.
But then again, it did seem like people were still off school this week (Tahia included), and so today’s hike still felt like it was a weekend as opposed to a weekday.
Eventually by about 3:55pm, I finally made it back to the Mt Lowe Gate, where I got changed back into my stinky and moist Chacos, and then got back in the car.
I was a bit concerned and bummed that the GoPro seemed to be acting up, and I was worried that it could be that none of my footage was recorded this entire day, which would be a real bummer.
So with that hanging over my head, we then proceeded to drive into Pasadena so we could finally have a meal.
The whole time, Julie was trying to get me to drop my efforts on YouTube since they weren’t getting any views either, but I think that’s the difference between us – I’d actually keep going regardless of how bleak it might be but Julie just gives up.
Perhaps that’s the reason why I continue to be the only breadwinner in the house, which is a lot of pressure, and I’m sure there are things she could do to monetize what she knows, but I resigned myself to the fact that she’s just not wired that way.
So after going down Fair Oaks for several miles through some rush hour traffic, we’d finally get to a city parking lot where now they charge $1 for the first 2 hours I think (no more free parking for the first two hours).
Anyways, we got there at about 4:15pm, and then we proceeded to kill some time at some coffee place and then some tea place, and then some art shop.
We did this because Julie’s target dinner spot for today was this ramen joint called Tatsunoya, but they didn’t open until 5pm so we had to kill some time.
But eventually, we were seated (first in line since I was the one who stayed behind), and we ultimately got a little booth where we dined on some pretty thick ramen as well as some gyoza, a crispy seawood taco-like appetizer, and Tahia also had a rice bowl.
While this place was pretty good, I guess compared to Julie’s go-to place of Shin Sen Gumi (or Hakata Ramen), she just wasn’t feeling it since they lacked the ginger as well as the Takana Fried Rice.
Regardless, we now know what the hype was about, and we left the place pretty sated and back at the car at 5:45pm.
By now, it was dark and we knew there’d be rush hour traffic, and sure enough, while driving east on the 210, it was definitely sluggish.
So eventually by 7pm, we finally made it home, and now we could finally call it a day.
By the way, my GoPro fears were unfounded because when I copied the files and uploaded them to GoPro’s site, it looked like all the footage was still there! Whew!
Plus, I decided that perhaps we should do another excursion this weekend since there’s no guarantees about the weather going forward.
So maybe Black Star Canyon should be next. I gave Mom a call to see if we’d be on…
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