In my mind, I was thinking that all the caution that we were practicing was essentially getting thrown to the wind the moment you start involving people who don’t take this seriously.
And in that sense, I wondered if it was inevitable that we were going to be exposed to COVID DNA at some point (if we hadn’t gotten it already)…
With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to ease, we decided to do a hike to the familiar Millard Falls with a friend and her two kids.
The thinking was that doing this hike on a weekday ought to help with the social distancing.
After all, after what we had seen last month when we did San Antonio Falls when we saw how many people still didn’t seem to take this seriously, we just didn’t trust that the easing was a measured move.
If anything, it seemed to reflect a more cavalier attitude towards COVID easing and I’m guessing that the inevitable decision to just let the COVID DNA propagate and let the peoples’ immune systems fight it off (or not) is the course of action moving forward.
I know that waiting for a vaccine is basically hope, which is not a strategy at all, so as a human race, we’re pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Meanwhile, the containment opportunity was long gone by irresponsible action (or inaction) taken by inept leaders as a result of greed in yet another example of what happens when only the rich get their way and have their voices heard.
And the rich in this world are the clear byproducts of perverse economic incentives that work against what everyone wants in this world – sustainability, freedom with responsibility, and a life of diverse learning experiences.
The richest are the ones who do the exploitation best and now rig the game to maintain their wealth until something in Nature breaks at our own expense, and that’s what COVID and its after effects are to this point.
And that’s just the next layer of issues we’ve got considering Global Warming and Climate Change (which I’m guessing is exacerbating mass extinction and thus is related to how COVID proliferated or came about) still is treated like it’s a hoax.
In any case, we were having doubts that doing any international trip this year was going to happen though we were doing what we could to keep ourselves safe despite what others weren’t doing.
Yet this was continuing the cabin fever so that was the main reason why we were still trying to get some natural vibes in through waterfalling here and there.
Personally, I wasn’t all that thrilled about doing Millard Falls yet again, but the important thing here was to reconnect with friends and slowly re-establish connections in real life.
So by about 9:30am after having breakfast, we then headed out. The highs for today was supposed to be in the 90s so it was definitely going to be a hot day.
I also suspected that Millard Falls’ flow probably wouldn’t be doing all that great, but I figured at least it would be a bit more approachable than it was when I was last there in 2017 when falls was booming with the record rains.
The drive out to the Chaney Trail was pretty uneventful as far as the freeways were concerned, but we were already a bit surprised by how many vehicles we saw parked in pullouts near the gate by the Mt Lowe Road.
That made us a little worried about the parking situation, but then again, we knew that there was also the Millard Campground parking area at the bottom, which we went straight to.
At least there were about a half-dozen spots, but they quickly filled up literally a minute or two after we showed up.
Tahia actually came up with the theory that the crowds we were seeing today had more to do with school being out for a lot of people, and she might be right.
When our friend Wendy showed up, it was about 10 minutes later, but she had to start circling.
Yet she lucked out because we spotted a couple of families headed back to their cars where the person in front of her claimed one spot, but we had her quickly wait for the other one immediately afterwards.
Once that was squared away, we then finally got started with the hike.
Upon looking at the Millard Creek by the picnic area, I saw that there was definitely water flowing in there so that was a good sign that this waterfall was still flowing even though it was getting late in the season.
Anyways, there were lots of people on this trail, and it was obvious to me that social distancing was unlikely to happen on this hike.
At least there were a lot more people wearing masks, but there were also lots of other people that weren’t, including a really large family with lots of kids that we saw scrambling up hillsides and likely causing further erosion.
I guess when you’re that age, there’s no sense of responsibility, and it kind of reinforces why I really think each of the popular hikes (especially tight ones like this) should require paid permits or controlled entry to the parking lots.
That would at least start mitigating overcrowding effects, urban blight, and pay back the trail maintenance, enforcement, and infrastructure to handle the crowds.
Since this hike was more to catch up with Wendy and let Tahia talk more Roblox with Wendy’s kids, we pretty much didn’t pay as much attention to the surroundings (at least not as much as I would normally do).
But it was a short hike, there were definitely moments of crowds at the stream crossings, and some of the tighter areas in the trail where groups had to squeeze by each other.
By about 11:15am, we made it to the base of Millard Falls where there were (not surprisingly) quite a few people while the waterfall itself had a bit of a low but still visible flow.
So at the waterfall, we let the kids play at the little plunge pool at the base for a bit.
There were also other kids doing the same thing. Meanwhile, the adults and other people in their 20s and 30s were chilling out a little further set back, but the urge to get close to the falls meant all notion of social distancing went out the window.
When the large Jewish family showed up a few minutes later (they had to have had at least 10 kids or more), they all crowded right at the edge of the plunge pool and none of them had masks on.
I guess we’ll never know for sure until we get the kind of test that tells you if your body reacts to it, but I’ve also heard that it can be unreliable.
Then there’s also the other test that says whether you currently have it or not, but that’s kind of not helpful other than an immediate indicator if people should avoid you at that instant or not.
Depending on how countries try to reopen their tourism, that wasn’t boding well for any hopes we had of doing an international trip (and getting away from the overcrowding in social-media-concentrated choice spots in America) this year.
I’m pretty certain that our collective mental health was taking a hit this year, and I suspect that it was likely to get worse over time (COVID or no COVID).
Eventually by about 11:40am, we started to hike back out as even more people were showing up. I guess if we weren’t exposed to COVID-19, I’m guessing that we were likely exposed to it on this day, especially by asymptomatic people.
The hike back out was for the most part uneventful, and by about 12:15pm, we made it back to the parking lot.
To our surprise, the parking lot was a bit emptier than when we had gotten started. So I guess we happened to get started during the peak of visition on this day, but at midday, I guess people were out having lunch or something.
Maybe the heat of today was already deterring people from doing the hike at this time.
By about 12:45pm, we got to the Chipotle in La Canada, and then we had a picnic lunch in the local park there afterwards. That was a nice and relaxing time, and it certainly beat eating inside a restaurant (which wasn’t allowed anyways at that Chipotle).
Eventually by about 2:45pm, we got back home under some mostly light traffic with a few pockets of slowdowns, which made me concerned about whether the gridlock was starting to come back.
Anyways, it was definitely hot by this time of the afternoon, and things felt a bit sluggish, but Tahia still had her Chinese lessons though Julie and I were starting to pass out and take our body-mandated siesta on this day.