California Travel Stories

Welcome to the California Travel Stories. Within these pages, you can read selected stories and musings about our waterfall-themed adventures in California. Hopefully, you'll find these stories entertaining and educational. Perhaps you might get a good laugh at our expense, or you might find some nuggets that you can apply to your own travels.

Thumb through the travel stories below. They are arranged chronologically with the most recent escapade at the top. Enjoy :)

At the Crystal Lake Recreational Area (Soldier Creek Falls: 10-June 2017)
Unforeseen Family Day
: And so we were merrily driving up the Hwy 39 into San Gabriel Canyon en route to Crystal Lake. But we were doing this drive without much preparation as we didn't bring Ann Marie Brown's book, nor did we consult my website prior to the service being non-existent in the mountains. And as I made the drive up the 39, I was trying to recall from memory which unsigned pullout was the correct one for the Lewis Falls. I started to have a feeling that we might have overshot the correct trailhead, especially as I was starting to see the tops of the mountains that we were within (something I never recalled seeing in all the previous visits we've made to Lewis Falls). And when we eventually got up to the road closure just past a turnoff for the Crystal Lake Recreational Area, that was when I knew for sure that we had gone too far...[read more]

Julie and Tahia enjoying the Heart Rock Falls from their lofty vantage point (Heart Rock Falls: 20-May 2017)
Ladybugs of the Heart
: I eventually scrambled up to rejoin Julie and Tahia where they were snacking on broccoli chips. As we were snacking up here, we were suddenly inundated in an insect swarm. It was quite a surreal sight as it appeared as if there were light specs moving about in the shadows like fireflies in the day time. At first I thought it was perhaps a big bee or wasp swarm as I had seen these in the past (fortunately without consequence). As some tried to fly into my nostrils, I kind of knew that they couldn't be bees or wasps as they'd be a bit too big to pull stunts like that. A lot of people thought this swarm was of mosquitos, which prompted quite a few of them to start leaving. And it was true that there were some mozzies amongst this insect swarm as I saw one hovering around Tahia's hand. But it was clear from the thickness of each of the individual specs in this swarm that they couldn't have been mozzies (since they're usually adept at being stealthy and unseen). Upon closer inspection of Julie's shirt and hat, which had about a half-dozen or so of these insects crawling on her, I came to realize that this swarm...[read more]

The badlands of Zabriskie Point in Death Valley (Death Valley: 7-April 2017 to 9-April 2017)
Rite of Passage
: As we were making our way over, Mom was telling me that Joshua had gotten carsick and threw up in a plastic bag. At first, she blamed Dad's driving since Joshua wasn't car sick yesterday when I was driving. But when Joshua divulged later that he had been playing with the iPhone during the mountainous drive between Panamint Valley and Death Valley, that was when we knew that that must've been the smoking gun so-to-speak. And so while we were dining at the Saloon, we wound up having a chili burger, some salads, and some chicken tenders for the kids. It wasn't exactly high quality food, but it was still priced like it was as the lunch was once again over $100 with tax and tip. The service was a bit on the slow side so it wouldn't be until 1:20pm when we were finally back at the car...[read more]

Looking back towards Santa Barbara and mountains from the end of Stearns Pier (Santa Barbara: 31-March 2017 to 2-April 2017)
Creating Models
: But when I got to the other side, I saw some signage saying something to the effect that I was now on the West Fork Cold Springs Trail. In fact, this sign was close enough to the road on the other side of the ford, which I thought was strange. Should I have parked here instead of on the other side of the fork? Anyways, so I continued hiking further in the upstream direction on this trail, which seemed a bit more overgrown than I had remembered it. Then, the trail eventually went back across Cold Springs Creek. Immediately, I thought this couldn't be right. Did I cross the creek for no reason? And as I was making this apparently unnecessary crossing to get back to the original side, I made a misstep and next thing I knew, both boots were wet as well as my wool socks! So much for hiking comfortably in dry conditions. At this point, I knew my feet would be miserable as now I'd be pretty much squishing my way to the falls and back...[read more]

Some interesting cliff formation reminding me of The Wave while doing the Portrero John Creek scramble (Portrero John Falls and Rose Valley Falls: 19-March 2017)
Itchy, Scratchy, and Crawly
: With the time being 2:50pm, I figured that it would probably be another 40-50 minutes before we'd finally be back at the trailhead. But at least now, we knew that we'd be hiking on trail again, and that would be way easier than the scramble adventure that we had just gone on. Indeed, the hiking was swift, but as we were back in the open part of the trail, Mom was complaining that her leg was starting to cramp and lock up. I knew that cramps were a function of dehydration so we momentarily stopped so Mom could get into her third bottled water, which she had been rationing. But now was a good time to consume it....[read more]

Tahia and some other kid playing in the icy waters of Tahquitz Creek before Tahquitz Falls (Tahquitz Falls: 25-February 2017)
Double Whammy
: That said, Tahquitz Creek and Tahquitz Falls had quite the healthy flow. In fact, its flow was so strong that the creek flowed right over the connecting trail leading to the other side of the loop. It was just as the sign had said about the trail being "flooded". Dad was preoccupying himself trying to figure out how best to make this crossing without getting the feet wet. He seemed the most determined to make it across when we noticed a handful of people able to rock hop across the rushing water to continue the loop. Unfortunately, if we were to do it with Tahia, for sure we'd be getting our feet wet again as it would be harder to do the rock hopping without hiking sticks and trying to do this with Tahia on our back or trying to pass her from person to person while standing shin deep in the running water...[read more]

Mom helping Tahia get by one of many crossings of a swollen Millard Creek (Millard Falls: 19-February 2017)
Double Edged Sword
: It wasn't long before we saw a large group of hikers gathered near the mouth of Millard Canyon and the concrete ford. There was definitely a lot of water rushing across that concrete ford though thankfully, we didn't need to cross it. But when we did get started on the official Millard Falls Trail, we had to go up some stepped wall adjacent to some cascades that I had never recalled seeing before (because Millard Creek was never this full) before we had to get across the creek itself shortly thereafter. This first crossing was already a little on the tricky side as the group before us took a while to get through. When it was finally our turn, we managed to get across a strategically-positioned log without getting wet. Mom actually carried Tahia across on her side on this crossing. But with this first crossing already being non-trivial, we wondered how the remaining creek crossings would be. I guess we were going to find out soon...[read more]

The main Murray Canyon Falls (Palm Springs: 10-February 2017 to 12-February 2017)
Just The Two Of Us
: As Julie and I got closer to the creek amongst those palm trees, we saw some people with wet shoes. One guy told us that you're gonna get wet on this hike, and that we would be better off giving in to getting wet instead of wasting time trying to figure out how to stay dry on the creek crossings. He threw out a number like around 12 creek crossings, and as we got closer to the creek, we could already see that crossing this while trying to stay dry would be no easy feat. And that there were still at least 11 more of these to go! Once we got to the other side (shoes a little bit wet but not too bad), we met up a lady who decided she wasn't going to continue the hike after having soaked one of her feet. So she sat by some solar powered vane or something like that, and waited perhaps for the rest of her group to finish the excursion before heading back. And so the whole while, she'd sit there patiently while hoping her shoes and socks would dry by the time they'd get back as she wasn't in the mood to hike with soaking feet...[read more]

Dana Point Waterfall gushing under the heavy rain (Bailey Canyon Falls and Dana Point Waterfall: 21-January 2017 to 22-January 2017)
Chasing Ghosts
: It wasn't until about 3:45pm when we finally got home, but we definitely had to be careful driving up the I-5 as there were a few moments of standing water even on the fast and car pool lanes. Back at home, we saw that there was some mild flooding in the backyard, and so we were a little busy trying to get rid of any sources of blockages so the water would have a place to go as it would drain towards the city's gutters and sewers. The main culprit was we used to have a brick sitting in a hole in the base of the fence to keep a cat from getting through. But I guess we overlooked the main function of that hole in the rare times it would rain hard like today, and that was a lesson learned for us...[read more]

Cedar Creek Falls in good flow in 2017 (Cedar Creek Falls and Legoland: 6-January 2017 to 8-January 2017)
Hiking or Legoland
: ...we eventually made it to Legoland, but we had spent several minutes driving towards the Sheraton to see if it was possible to park the car and walk to the backside of the park at a cheaper rate than the Legoland parking. It turned out that they had barricades and so our strategy didn't work. When we pulled up to the Legoland parking area, we saw that it was a whopping $17 for regular parking. For just two hours in the park, I didn't want to spend this kind of money. But Julie was insistent on us going in to park. Our verbal disagreement made the parking attendant uncomfortable and then he finally said that he could give us the Preferred Parking for $8, which was still more than I wanted to pay, but it was way better than $17...[read more]

Walking alongside Aliso Creek in Aliso Viejo (Aliso Viejo Waterfall: 2-January 2017)
New Year, New Waterfall (sort of...)
: Speaking of unpleasant, the water definitely had an unpleasant smell so we knew very well that this water was polluted. But that didn't stop Tahia from running towards the foaming plunge pool where we noticed bamboo sticks on the floor and tried to place them in the water in an attempt to make a "bridge" or a "raft" out of them. We kept a close eye on Tahia so as to not put her fingers in her mouth or eyes given the dirtiness of the water here. I guess that was the thing when you try to mix Nature with urban and suburban developments. I knew that further up the drainage, the waterway must have passed through Lake Forest and Mission Viejo so with all the runoff that got dumped into the waterways, the closer to the ocean you'd get, the worse off the water quality would be. And that putrid smell from the water definitely reinforced this notion...[read more]

Approaching the mouth of Eaton Canyon in the late afternoon (Eaton Canyon Falls: 10-December 2016)
Second Wave
: Near the base of the Eaton Canyon Falls were some roses as well as another ledge where there was another bouquet of dried up flowers. I'm betting that these were to commemorate lost loved ones who must've died trying to reach the upper waterfall. So even though I didn't know how to get up there, I definitely thought it was best that I didn't know. That said, a pair of African American guys were talking about the route to get to the upper waterfall and it involved scrambling high above on the very steep cliffs to the left of the lower waterfall. In looking up there, I couldn't even see the trail so I wondered incredulously how people could be scrambling along those cliffs...[read more]

Tahia and a friend playing at Monrovia Canyon Falls (Monrovia Canyon Falls: 13-November 2016)
Cortisol Levels
: We stared and watched as one guy was squared off against another with a third guy nearby either going to join in or just watch. But one of the guys looked like he wanted to get something from the other guy he was squaring off against. Whatever it was (drugs? money?), he wanted it so bad that they got into a fight over it. In fact, one guy kept saying, "Kill me! Kill me! Come on! Kill me!" while he was reaching for something that one of his buddies wouldn't let him have. I recalled the third guy kind of ganged up on him too. But two of the three guys were wrestling on the ground looking like they were intent on hurting each other. Julie pulled Tahia close to her and hastily made their way back up to the car park...[read more]

Checking out a colorful thermal pool at Bumpass Hell - Lassen Volcanic's signature attraction (Northern California and Southern Oregon: 10-July 2016 to 16-July 2016)
Bringing Up To Snuff
: After having our fill of this lake, we ultimately went back to the Bumpass Hell Parking Lot and decided to gear up and cross the police tape. I figured that it couldn't be as bad as the "extremely hazardous" conditions that the park was advertising (or at least I thought it was perhaps a little too conservative given how lots of people tend to show up to these kinds of hikes unprepared) and so I was pushing to do the hike. Of course, when Mom saw the closure sign, she called out to me and wondered if it was wise to do this, which further raised some doubts as to whether my confidence in the park being overconservative was unfounded or not. In any case, I convinced them that we could go on this hike and then be open to turning back when (if) we'd get to parts where it might be too dangerous to proceed. And so we continued on with this doubt in our minds...[read more]

Checking out the impressive Mt Shasta near sunset (Redding and Lake Tahoe: 18-June 2016 to 24-June 2016)
The California Waterfall Rush
: Anyways, after climbing then going around a bend where there was that familiar view of Mono Lake, we could now see that Mono Lake was essentially one big haze with the lake hardly being able to be seen. The fire was down in the basin seemingly near Lee Vining. So now it appeared that if we were to somehow get through this road closure, we'd probably have to drive next to this fire. For a fire that was under clear skies and being so close to the road, I knew this had to be human caused. Whether it was due to electrical failure or some thoughtless idiot tossing a cigarette out the window, we'll probably never know. But for sure, it was human induced as a thunderstorm cell was nowhere in sight. At 10:50am, we were ultimately halted by a line of cars hoping that they might let us get through the closure point right at the junction with the Hwy 167 and the turnoff for Lundy Lake. Even with the fire closure, I thought about getting past the line of cars then turning right onto Lundy Lake to do the Lundy Canyon hike, but Mom nixed the idea citing that you just never know how the winds might change the direction of the fire and put us at risk of becoming barbecue...[read more]

Redwoods along the trail for Triple Falls in Uvas Canyon County Park (Santa Cruz Mountains, Foresthill, Grass Valley, Oroville, and Sonoma: 19-May 2016 to 22-May 2016)
R Dub Nation
: ...the weather started to go from sunny to sunny with hail. Then, as we went further up the interstate, the hail became more persistent and we even started to see some accumulations of ice off the side of the road. According to our GPS, we only had around 5-6 miles to go, but soon the weather continued to deteriorate from hail to heavy snow flurries. Now, things were getting serious, and it eventually got to the point that the traffic stopped completely. Seeing that the road was starting to accumulate snow and that we weren't prepared for the snow (i.e. no snow chains), we got off the nearest exit we could find so we could turn around and go back southwest along the I-80 to go back down the mountain. It turned out that the exit we took was exit 155, and the road was already covered in a little snow. So it was a good thing that we were turning around at this point. However, when we got onto the on-ramp to go west and south on the I-80, we had lost traction with the road and started to slide sideways...[read more]

Tahia on the Burkhart Trail somewhere near where we suspected the top of Buckhorn Falls to be (Cooper Canyon Falls and Buckhorn Falls: 1-May 2016)
Pick Your Poison
: Aside from that family, I was pretty much alone in my creek scramble. Not knowing or appreciating how far I had to scramble my way up, I pretty much stayed on the boulders of the creek, but then that presented some issues when I had to scale some small waterfalls. Most of the small waterfalls weren't significant enough to really stop and admire them, but they were significant enough to present bouldering obstacles with potential dropoffs. As I was getting into the rhythm of scrambling and route finding, I'd eventually try to avoid the dropoff hazards by scrambling through waist-deep groves of poison oak... And indeed, there were plenty of moments where I had to make a decision on whether to make a risk-laden boulder scramble with dropoffs or wade through the poison oak. It was definitely a case of me having to pick my poison, where I'd damned if I do, and I'm damned if I don't...[read more]

The main Switzer Falls (Switzer Falls and Portugese Bend: 23-April 2016 to 24-April 2016)
A Joy Luck Weekend
: As I was making the steep scramble up, I had to go up some exposed tree roots before I was on a narrow rock ledge leading to a narrow section where the rock ledge was kind of aided by the way the trees were growing providing a slight extension to the narrow ledge. The narrowness of this ledge reminded me of the one that kept killing people at Kaaterskill Falls in New York. Once I got past the initial narrow ledge (which yielded an interesting view of both of the tiers of the Lower Switzer Falls as well as the dead-end to the main trail down below), I then got to an even hairier section where there rocks were sloping down to the bottom of the falls while someone tied a rope next to an adjacent tree branch here. The rope was positioned, where it didn't seem to be of much help. So I had to be very careful about where I was placing my foot. Given the slipperiness and slope of this section, a misstep would most certainly lead to a slip and fall. So I made sure I put my toes on the parts of the rocks that I knew (or tested out) would have enough grip to put my weight on and continue onto the next step...[read more]

Looking towards the homes bordering the beautiful Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks (Paradise Falls: 16-April 2016)
Self-picked Adventure
: When we had our fill of Paradise Falls, we then headed back up at 3:45pm. And as expected, Tahia was not in much of a mood to walk. She wanted us to carry her, but we couldn't accommodate that request given how much bigger she had grown now and how much our knees wouldn't be able to handle it in our advanced ages (plus she was getting too big for the child carrier). Indeed, the uphill hiking was a bit taxing, especially with the hot weather. When we got back to the main trail with the views of the mesa-like cliffs to the north, we were flanked by the exposed natural gas pipes once again. Every time we see these pipes (having done this hike several times now), we were reminded of the recent natural gas leaks that have essentially accelerated Global Warming...[read more]

The scenery around the trailhead for Holy Jim Falls (Holy Jim Falls: 10-April 2016)
An Inconvenient Opportunity
: The drive south along the I-5 was as smooth as it could be for this time in the morning. We made such good time that we were within Mission Viejo and Lake Forest in around a half-hour, then we followed the familiar Alicia Parkway to Santa Margarita Road, then to Trabuco Canyon Road, and finally onto the rough Trabuco Creek Road. But it was only when we got to the unpaved road would we find out whether we were pushing our luck too far with making this visit so soon after yesterday's somewhat moderate rain (though it was a bit on the disappointing side in the grand scheme of things). Sure enough when we got onto the Trabuco Creek Road, we saw there was still water puddles filling in the potholes. Plus, the road was muddy as expected so we knew that Julie's car was going to get quite dirty. But the start of the Trabuco Creek Road wasn't foremost on my mind. It was the really rough part after the concrete ford that I knew would be trickier as that was the narrower and really bumpy part...[read more]

The tide pools at Abalone Cove (Abalone Cove and Falls Canyon Falls: 20-February 2016 to 21-February 2016)
From PV to the OC
: Anyways, they kept going on Trabuco Creek Road, but Julie was still way behind trying to make sense of those internet blog directions that all of the sudden didn't make any sense to her. Still, she was insistent that the blog was right, but it still didn't add up to what I saw on the maps and what I was observing in the canyon. So while Julie and I were having this GEICO Commercial moment (where Tarzan and Jane were arguing over directions), and Tahia was getting antsy about this hike becoming longer than she had bargained for, we kept going back and forth arguing over where the hiking began. And all this was happening while lots of other cars kept driving by either going to Holy Jim or coming back from Holy Jim or somewhere else. There was even some laughter from one of the passer-by cars obviously sensing that we were lost and we were about to put our daughter at risk...[read more]

Now hiking alongside the former shuttle route through Vulcan Quarry at Fish Canyon (Fish Canyon Falls: 13-February 2016)
Fighting Off The Flu Bug
: As we were getting ready for the hike, the sun was bearing down on us as it looked like it was going to be yet another hot day today (yet another February day in the 80s or 90s). As my headaches continued and my lungs were burning, I once again questioned my sanity as to whether I was up for this hike or not. Still, I wanted to believe that a little exercise and sun would help boost my immune system versus staying couped up in bed inactive and ingesting more indoor air pollution. Plus, I was also a little anxious for our little girl as this would be her first time doing a five-mile hike compleletely on her own without us carrying her. Indeed, there was definitely some uncertainty to this hike by not just me but also our little girl. Then again, she didn't really have a sense for hiking distances before a hike would commence so she was pretty oblivious to it all...[read more]

Enjoying the views towards Sierra Madre on the return hike from Bailey Canyon (Bailey Canyon Falls: 6-February 2016)
Knowing The Limits
: As I was busy taking in this little city park with picnic tables, a toilet facility, and some signs talking about the area, Julie asked an elderly Asian couple who was returning from their hike about the waterfall. And to her dismay, they told her that there was no water. So that right off the bat kind of hinted to us that this excursion could very well be a waste of time. Even Julie was starting to entertain the thought of just aborting this hike. But I told her that since we were already here, we mind as well scout out the trail and see what it's like anyways. After all, it didn't seem to make sense to drive out all this way only to turn back immediately without seeing for ourselves what the excursion was like...[read more]

Back at the base of Millard Falls for the first time in 13 years (Millard Falls: 30-January 2016)
Chasing Nostalgia
: ...that said, most of the time spent at the falls was spent waiting for an Indian couple who seemed to have hijacked the falls for their people shots for a good 20-30 minutes or so. While this was going on, we were letting Tahia play while Julie and I looked around to see if any of the boulders had fallen from atop the falls (since there was a huge boulder a short distance downstream of the waterfall itself. Was that the reason why they re-opened the trail? Who knows? When another couple showed up well after the Indian couple did, they were waiting for what seemed like the next 10-15 minutes while the Indian couple seemed to show no signs of wrapping up. The guy tried to disarm the antsy-ness of the next couple that showed up by offering to take couple pictures for them. But I think that latest couple that arrived wanted none of it...[read more]

The gorgeous views from the Ramona side of the Cedar Creek Falls (Julian, Cedar Creek Falls, Three Sisters Falls, Cottonwood Creek Falls: 22-January 2016 to 24-January 2016)
Rekindling Valentines Adventures
: As we pulled out of the Jeremy's on the Hill lot at 8:05pm, we were precariously driving on the Hwy 78 as we realized that the visibility on the road was quite poor. With all the twistiness of the road, that made things a little bit worrisome. Fortunately, we weren't in much of a rush so we took our time. We even noticed some other vehicles pulling off to the side of the road in some of the open spots not wanting to chance it in the fog...[read more]

Walking on a trail full of snow towards San Antonio Falls (San Antonio Falls: 16-January 2016)
Tahia's Request
: As we were ascending the Baldy Rd behind this long line of cars in front of us with steep switchbacks along the way, I started to notice that an indicator light was on saying "A/T Temp". We didn't know what it meant, but it didn't seem good, and to compound the issue, it seemed like Mom's SUV was stuck in a low gear as the car seemed like it didn't want to change gears no matter how fast we were going. We even started to smell something like it was burning and we were worried it came from our car. We only had a couple of more miles to go (albeit uphill) before the familiar trailhead, but now we were worried about whether we could even make it back home after the hike let alone up to the trailhead...[read more]

The Sea Life Aquarium at Legoland in Carlsbad, CA (Legoland, Jack Creek Falls, and San Juan Falls: 9-January 2016 to 10-January 2016)
Two Thumbs Down
: I guess her sentiments pretty much echoed Julie's sentiments about this dinky waterfall (which I was inclined to give it a 0.5 or a 1 since it was kind of flowing). Tahia even said this waterfall was "two thumbs down," which was kind of her way of saying she disapproved of things (something I'm sure she picked up in pre-school). Heck, it wasn't even a sideways thumb, which she tended to give us from time to time as well. Julie and I wondered if we should start registering Tahia's thumb ratings or something as part of our waterfall writeups. That way we'd get a toddler or child's perspective, which I'm sure was not very common out in the literature...[read more]

Bonita Falls flanked by icicles (Bonita Falls: 31-December 2015)
New Years Eve Surprises
: There's something special about seeing wildlife in their element as opposed to a zoo. And I figured that it was watching them do their thing with Nature being the provider as opposed to a zookeeper that just simply can't be replicated in the zoo or aquarium. Indeed, moments like these are what's really needed in life though we know that such moments are becoming rarer. So we savored and treasured this lucky surprise. At the same time, we also had to be careful not to get too close to any of the cliff walls because it appeared that the bighorn sheep also inadvertently kicked down some rocks that rolled rapidly towards the base. At the same time, some of the icicles were cracking then falling to the base. So while we wanted to sit and chill for longer just to enjoy the bighorn sheep and waterfall show, we knew that it also wasn't safe to be here for too long...[read more]

The cemetery at Manzanar (Mammoth Lakes, Bodie, Manzanar, Ancient Bristlecone Pines: 1-August 2015 to 4-August 2015)
New Experiences, Old Haunts
: When we finally returned to the Hwy 168, I was concerned that the undulating road had sections where water could easily come across it. I recalled there was a "single lane" road section (probably more on par with a typical bi-directional narrow road in Europe as opposed to it being "single lane") as well as other parts of the road where I saw puddles and tiny streams that could easily blow up into something impassable. As we were just starting to head west on the road, we saw a cop going the other way. Just as we had passed each other, he had turned on his siren lights, which made me scared that perhaps I might have been caught speeding on the Hwy 168. So for the next few minutes, I kept inspecting my rear-view mirror thinking that I was gonna get pulled over for speeding (though I swore I was going pretty slow given the conditions)...[read more]

Monrovia Canyon Falls in drought-stricken Summer (Monrovia Canyon Falls: 26-July 2015)
Summer Recharge
: As we were driving the road out of Monrovia Canyon Park, we had to wait for a ranger to move as his/her truck was blocking the road. It was at that time that we had noticed that they had half-closed the gate on the way in. We weren't sure why they were closing the park since there was ample parking space. It seemed like no matter how we tried to justify this closure, we kept coming up short. Well, whatever the case may be with this apparently mid-day closure, we were sure glad that we got our visit in before this happened. Again, it was like Mom would always say, "Early bird gets the worm...[read more]

Sea Arch at Pfeiffer Beach (Big Sur and Monterey: 2-Apriil 2015 to 4-April 2015)
Spring Breakaway
: Anyways, the road seemed busier than I would have expected for a weekday, and when we noticed that there were a ton of cars parked at a vista point, we were wondering what all the fuss was about. Seeing that it was well past 1:30pm at this point, I kept on going. But when I glimpsed some of the coastline, I couldn't help but notice the rocky beaches along the coast were full of sea lions! When Julie heard me commenting about why that vista point was so full, she urged me to make a U-turn and go into that crowd of cars to let Tahia check them out. Even Tahia got in on the act trying to get me to turn around even though we were well past the vista point on the two-lane highway and we were already behind in terms of what we tried to accomplish today while also trying to get all the way to Monterey, where we were staying for the next two nights...[read more]

Cherry blossoms at the Schabarum Park (Forest Falls: 7-March 2015)
Fleeting Windows
: ...we had hiked back to the busy car park (with even more cars in the car park now!). But that wasn't before we got nice views of the valley where there were still snow-covered mountains in the distance framing the rocky trail we were in. Indeed, as we were ready to climb back in the car again, all of us were having that relaxed mood that seemed to always happen whenever we go waterfalling. I even overheard someone conversing amongst his own family saying something to the effect like "that's why we come here; to get away from the craziness down there..." And I couldn't have said it better myself...[read more]

View of Santa Barbara from the clock tower at the Old Courthouse (Santa Barbara: 15-February 2015 to 16-February 2015)
Endless Summer
: Ultimately, the path led us towards a gorge where we knew Mission Creek had to have been responsible for it. And about five minutes after the fork (about 10:50am now), we descended down to Mission Creek, which not surprisingly was not flowing. There was a pool here, however. So that gave me some hope that just maybe there might still be pools further upstream. Julie was having doubts about stream scrambling, but given how dry the conditions were, I'm sure the stream scramble was now much easier than it would've been had we had to climb the waterfalls themselves. It was one of those catch-22s where the scrambling was easier, but with the endless summer, there would be no water. I'm sure if there was water, it would be more worthwhile to do this hike, but then it'd be harder to keep going...[read more]

Nice family scene picnicking at the base of San Antonio Falls (San Antonio Falls: 7-February 2015)
Once Every Five Years
: Something that I didn't really notice in our previous hikes was that even though the trail was quite easy to walk (as it felt like a paved maintenance road that now led to some private vacation homes or something along the way), the air was noticeably thinner up here. I guess we were just getting old now as such effects didn't really bother us in the past (or at least I didn't remember it). Nonetheless, we took our time as Tahia, Julie and Dad led the way. I think Mom was just enjoying the scenery as she hadn't done this hike before. So even though I was lamenting the lack of choices to try to expand our waterfalling collection this Winter season (thanks to the drought), at least we could share with my parents and with Tahia something they hadn't done before...[read more]

Nice views of the Inland Empire despite the smog on the return hike (Etiwanda Falls: 24-January, 1-February 2015)
Dancing Trees
: Anyways, it was times like these that reminded us of why trucks with trailers would flip over on their sides in the desert regions, especially near the Cajon Pass. And apparently, we were seeing a wind-tunnel effect where winds were being funneled into a narrow canyon or pass between the San Bernardino Mountains and the end of the San Gabriels. Little did I realize how relevant Mom's story was when it became our turn to attempt the hike to Etiwanda Falls on this day. The force of the winds were becoming even more apparent as we were driving through the local streets along both Base Line and Etiwanda Ave. That was because we saw a handful of downed trees and even whole chunks of tree branches in the middle of the road on both Base Line and Etiwanda Ave. Now it was getting serious...[read more]

With this many trips to Sturtevant Falls, we started to notice the little things (Sturtevant Falls: 18-January 2015)
Three Week Retry
: As we were anxiously making our way up Santa Anita Ave, we ultimately got up to the twisty mountain road leading up to Chantry Flat. That was when we found ourselves following a caravan of vehicles, which meant that our fear of a repeat bad parking situation had been realized. And sure enough, there was another separate caravan of a half-dozen cars further up ahead of us slowly making their way past the parked vehicles towards the same place we were going...[read more]

Tahia checking out the view of the Los Angeles Basin from Monrovia Canyon Park (Monrovia Canyon Falls: 20-April 2014)
Easter Surprises
: Ultimately, we would go on the familiar winding road up to Monrovia Canyon Park. We were worried about the parking situation here given the past troubles the last time we were here. At first we thought about parking near the fee collection kiosk seeing that there were three or four open spots down there. However, we thought if there were going to be that many spots down here, why not go up and see what's up there before coming back down and prolonging our hike as a last resort?...[read more]

Looking along Pacific Coast Highway from our alternate parking spot for Solstice Canyon (Solstice Canyon Falls: 13-April 2014)
Recovery By Waterfalling
: Mentally, I thought that we might actually make it to the trailhead for Solstice Canyon by about 10 or 10:15am, but at around 9:50am (just as we were approaching Temescal Canyon Rd), Tahia all of the sudden started crying in the back seat. When Julie and I asked what was wrong, she said her tummy was hurting. Since we were on the winding roads of PCH, finding a convenient place to pull over wasn't trivial. So we kept forward hoping perhaps to find a plaza or fast-food restaurant to stop at to see what was going on. But moments later, Tahia started puking. And it seemed like she was heaving quite a bit of stuff. With no one in the back seat accompanying her, she had no choice but to let the smelly mushy stuff get right on her clothes, the child seat, the seat belts, and even the stuff on the floor like my camera and the floor mats. Now, the sense of urgency to find a place to pull over safely was even greater...[read more]

Tahia and Julie hiking towards Eaton Canyon on a hot day (Eaton Canyon Falls: 6-April 2014)
Our Pink-Eyed Pea
: ...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...[read more]

Paradise Falls in beautiful weather on a Sunday afternoon (Paradise Falls: 30-March 2014)
Waterfalling Independence
: Then, we turned left at the familiar signposted junction for Paradise Falls. Tahia was doing quite well during the hike, and we were still proceeding with Julie in front and Tahia trying to play catchup with her. In a couple of spots, Julie was pointing out the cacti to Tahia, and I think after one touch, Tahia didn't particularly like being close to the cactus...[read more]

Big Pothole Lake from Kearsarge Pass (Onion Valley to Kearsarge Pass Backpack: 29-August 2013 to 1-September 2013)
Still Life
: Then, as we were climbing the last few switchbacks, it started raining at 12:20pm. This was definitely not a good sign. When we encountered another pair of guy hikers who were coming back down, they too were echoing the earlier sentiments that it was definitely worth the view up at Kearsarge Pass. However, one of them expressed concern that it was going to be iffy about whether the weather would cooperate or not. Still, we trudged on. The rain got bad enough that we had to bring out our rain gear. Of course, when the rain gear was on, it tended to get hot real fast...[read more]

At the Vulcan Materials Quarry Facility (Fish Canyon Falls: 11-May 2013)
Mothers Day Orientation
: So once we found a fairly flat and shady spot near the top of the bottommost tier of Fish Canyon Falls, I was finally able to unsling the baby carrier and momentarily relieve myself of nearly 30 pounds of weight. Tahia was eager to get playing in the water so both Mom and Julie were keeping an eye out on her while shielding her from going over the fourth waterfall. Meanwhile, we were busy munching on our Chinese breakfast of sticky rice wrap that we had brought with us. I had already gone through one bottle of water so I had to fill up my bottle with a backup bottle that we had brought. And as much as I wanted to sit down and relax, there seemed to be at least a half-dozen or more wasps or bees swarming about me. Apparently, my orange shirt might have attracted them as if I was a flower to them or something because they seemed to leave everyone else alone. Lucky me...[read more]

Sturtevant Falls (Sturtevant Falls: 7-April 2013)
Center of Attention
: The long flat stretch of hiking that Julie and I typically took for granted on all of our previous hikes now didn't seem to straightforward as I was carrying an extra 30 pounds on my back. Every little uphill stretch (no matter how slight) took its toll on me. I guess this would be my training for a planned backpacking trip in the Sierras late this Summer. However, what's missing from today's hike were the altitude sickness, the mosquitoes, and not having to shower for a couple of days. Not that Tahia didn't mind as she was busy laughing and pointing out everything she thought she saw or at least heard...[read more]

Cooper Canyon Falls (Cooper Canyon Falls: 17-March 2013)
Cooper Canyon Retry
: At the Day Use area where we parked (and where there were many other cars parked), we went past a bathroom and picnic tables then past a gate as the paved road curved downhill. We followed this road until the pavement eventually looped into a little cul-de-sac with a picnic area, but then the road turned back up and there was no apparent trail to keep going. Something was off...[read more]

Trail Canyon Falls (Trail Canyon Falls: 19-January 2013)
Bottom Line
: Somehow the topic of conversation switched over to hiking blogs, and he told me that he consulted s couple of blogs, which he named to me (both of which I had heard). I was a little disappointed that he didn't mention our website, and the thought did occur to me whether I should tell him about our website. But I wanted to ensure we stayed anonymous so I didn't say anything about it...[read more]

Lewis Falls (Soldier Creek Falls: 5-January 2013)
Soldiering into an Old Haunt
: Complicating the scrambling we had to do, my parents were also having a little more difficulty than before since their joints were less flexible and more prone to pain. I guess that's something to look forward to with old age, and it further reminded me that family outings like these won't last forever. So we mind as well do as many of these as we can. We did spot a couple of guys going the other way. However, their pants looked muddy and wet, and it made us wonder if we were in for something harder than we had thought going into this excursion...[read more]

Solstice Canyon Falls (Solstice Canyon Falls: 3-September 2012)
Not So Great Expectations
: It had been a while since Julie and I had gone out on a hike. The entire Summer had gone by, and even though we had gone to beaches, spent many weekends with family, and even went to Napa Valley on a make-up anniversary trip, there was something that was still missing. After a few discussions over this long weekend, we came to realize that perhaps what we missed was a true escape from the city and a return to Nature. So on this Labor Day, Julie insisted that we go out to a waterfall. I thought the idea was absurd...[read more]

Finally, the elusive Upper Escondido Falls! (Escondido Falls: 14-April 2012)
El Escondido del Escondido
: I couldn't help but think how Mom and I missed out when we tried the scramble but didn't quite make it three years ago. Still, Julie and I relished this experience - the scenic allure, the adventure it took to get here, the ability to finally see what just about everyone else (it seemed) was able to see...[read more]

Mother and Daughter sharing the falls experience (Paradise Falls: 8-April 2012)
"Eese-ing" Towards A Fun Easter
: That didn't go unnoticed by another lady who was amused by what Tahia was doing, and was quick to point out to us that our daughter was well aware of the falls. It's times like these where waterfalling truly is a gratifying family activity. It seemed like everyone here was having a good time (except for some ladies who anxiously saw their sons climb up the rock besides the falls). Even Julie and I felt that the waterfalling experience today was closer to the way it was supposed to be - uncrowded, laid back, and enjoyable...[read more]

Horsies on the trail (Eaton Canyon Falls: 24-March 2012)
Cooler Heads
: became apparent as we waited until about 9:15am that no HiPos from work were going to show up. I knew one guy (whom I had coordinated this event with) had to attend a funeral so that was anticipated. Still, I was a bit disappointed given how many other verbal commitments I had received, but I figured people might flake given the pattern of this kind of behavior for a while at work now...[read more]

A different take on the falls (Monrovia Canyon Falls: 10-March 2012)
Slim Pickings
: And so with that we finally completed our three-point turn and quickly tried to retrace back to the lower car park in search of this elusive parking spot. I was getting worried that after having paid the $5, we still might not have a spot and be out this amount of cash for nothing...[read more]

A reliable waterfall even in a dry winter (Eaton Canyon Falls: 4-February 2012)
The Old Reliable
: As we got closer, it looked like someone was getting a citation. And when a cop handed a lady a slip that prompted her to say, "Oh my gosh!" (probably a reaction to the fine), we knew it wasn't cheap. Julie and I weren't sure what they did wrong considering other folks also had dogs on a leash but all we could do was speculate...[read more]

Early morning near Dingleberry Lake (Lake Sabrina to Moonlight Falls Backpack: 11-August 2011 to 14-August 2011)
Under the Moonlight
: I think what sealed the deal about us stopping here was that we felt pretty frequent wind gusts that might've been coming from the mountain passes further up from us. That meant the mozzies wouldn't be as bothersome as long as the air was moving. And so it was. We unslung our heavy packs and called it a day. We were still probably at least 2 miles from Topsy Turvy Lake (our originally intended camp spot), but at this point, we were all exhausted and were ready to stop. ...[read more]

Monrovia Canyon Falls (Monrovia Canyon Falls: 14-May 2011)
This Time It Counts
: They had a bench facing a nice view of the Los Angeles basin under the May Gray. So that made for a pleasant feeding experience for the both of us (not that Tahia noticed the view though she did notice the surrounding mountains and even a helicopter). The only thing that made me a little nervous was a loud buzzing bumblebee that wouldn't leave us alone...[read more]

Bonita Falls (Bonita Falls: 7-May 2011)
No Respect
: As I was stumbling along the bouldery wash, I quickly found out that I wasn't alone on this excursion as there were a handful of families and youngers going back the other way. I asked one mother how the falls was, and she said it was beautiful. That was very encouraging to me as I had worried that I might have been a month too late for this excursion especially given the heat wave we had this past week thereby melting away all the snow. The mother did warn me about some kids throwing rocks from the top of the waterfall indiscriminantly. So I considered myself warned...[read more]

Looking back at Millard Canyon (Millard Falls: 23-April 2011)
Ad Hoc Earth Day
: I guess also setting the mood was the dark gray skies on this late April Saturday. The weather certainly reminded me of June Gloom where the deep marine layer would burn off some time after lunch. Sometimes it would drizzle. But then with Climate Change, the June Gloom became May Gray. And now that it's happening in April, I wonder what kind of name they got for it now?...[read more]

Smog over Riverside County (Idyllwild: 17-April 2011)
Not Quite
: 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!...[read more]

Couple embracing before Tahquitz Falls (Tahquitz Falls: 10-April 2011)
Just Like Old Times
: But perhaps more practically speaking from a pricing standpoint, $12.50 per person was one of the cheaper alternatives considering that most visitors to Palm Springs could blow off a lot more money on spas, golf, shopping (at the nearby Cabazon outlet), or trying their luck at one of the casinos, among other things. Day trippers like us (from nearly two hours away) didn't fit their typical profile of a visitor. From the literature, we learned that they did clean up this trail from graffiti and transients using the canyon illegally as well as maintain the trail. Before 2001, this trail was closed to the public...[read more]

Muddy stretch of trail (Solstice Canyon Falls: 30-March 2011)
Back to Basics
: It's funny how selective our memories are or how much we take for granted when it's just us two on the trail. All we recalled was that the trail was paved and easy, and there was no reason why we couldn't take Tahia in a stroller this time around when the time came. But little did we realize that there were parts of the trail where the road was beat up a little and mud inundated some parts complete with little ponds. Our stroller was taking a bit of a beating, and with the bumpiness of the ride, it must've felt like Tahia was offroading in a 4wd. Julie and I began to wonder if Tahia would even make it to her first waterfall... [read more]

Devils Postpile (Mammoth Lakes and Ancient Bristlecone Pines: 19-August 2010 to 21-August 2010)
Slaying Demons
: Ed got his question answered about whether Minaret Lake was doable as a day hike, which we were considering doing tomorrow to at least witness what we were supposed to be doing as a backcountry excursion before plans changed. The lady told him that it was 16 miles round trip, and that number alone made it seem like a day outing there was a bit ambitious, especially since we were at altitude. Her expression as she said it also kind of planted the seeds of doubt in us that maybe we should find alternatives... [read more]

Me at Big Falls (Forest Falls: 8-August 2010)
Against Instincts
: Mom had already scrambled up the stream and around the corner. Julie had suggested that I follow her and either take photos of her or see what else it was that drove Mom to push further. I wasn't sure stream and rock scrambling beneath a waterfall was a wise move for I didn't think it was going to be worth it. The falls seemed like it was becoming more hidden the further up we went, trees were everywhere blocking the view, and it got increasingly steep as well... [read more]

Difficult rock scramble (Hermit Falls: 25-April 2010)
More Adventure Than We Bargained For
: There was no obvious path to make it back up the vertical walls I had descended. When the father of the family saw my difficulties, he came over and we exchanged in a dialog as to how he was able to do it in the past (assuming he had done this before). Ultimately, he said I had the right idea on my approach to the scramble. Fortunately, I had found a foothold on the opposite wall where I could launch myself up and onto a real precarious ledge where I pushed myself up with my upper body before crawling onto the flat area above... [read more]

View of the San Francisco Bay (Point Reyes, Mt Tamalpais, Big Basin Redwoods SP: 8-April 2010 to 10-April 2010)
You Are Your Environment
: we got into Big Basin Redwoods State Park, we noticed that the dark overhanging clouds had produced drizzle, and it eventually became rain! The weather forecast said the rain storm wasn't showing up until tomorrow. However, here we were about to park the car and go on a long hike under rainy conditions. To make matters worse, I managed to forget to bring our rain ponchos. Being prepared was something I prided myself in, but I guess I must've removed the ponchos from the daypack and left them home during one of our local excursions... [read more]

Poison oak irritation? (Tenaja Falls, Ortega Falls, and Heart Rock Falls: 3-April 2010 to 4-April 2010)
A Whatever Easter Weekend
: As we parked the car and got out, we could tell right away that we were in the mountains for the air was frigidly cold and there was a breeze that sent the temperature plunging even more with the wind chill. It didn't matter that all of us had windbreakers. The wind seemed to have knifed through their protective shells and straight onto the underlying skin... [read more]

Crowd waits for the van shuttle (Fish Canyon Falls and San Antonio Falls: 27-March 2010 to 28-March 2010)
Exercise In Compromise
: We weren't sure if there was a limit to the number of people on the trail at one time. So we asked one of the employees there if this was the case. He just told us that all they were just enjoying the trailhead, which sounded a bit strange to us, but different strokes for different folks, I guess. Then the curiosity got the better of me so I asked the same employee what they're quarrying here...[read more]

Sunset at Treebones (Big Sur, Monterey, and Santa Lucia Wilderness: 18-March 2010 to 21-March 2010)
March Gladness
: As we got towards the middle of this stream crossing, there came a point where we had no choice but to wade through shin deep to knee-deep of water. Further progress meant resistance was futile. So we just sucked it up, got our feet completely wet as water was now coming in the boots through the top, and was squishing our way forward from this point on... [read more]

Temescal Canyon Trail (Temescal Canyon Falls and Solstice Canyon Falls: 14-March 2010)
Selection Sunday
: Having lost an hour of sleep thanks to Daylight Savings Time, Julie and I awoke at 8:30am, which was late for us considering we wanted to get some hiking done today. We had a very pleasant dinner with a high school buddy of mine who we hadn't seen in years and our conversation lasted well past 11pm (before the Daylight Savings). I still am perplexed as to why we even bother with falling back and springing forward year after year when I have yet to hear a legitimate reason why we do this. Seemed like a silly tradition to me... [read more]

Backbone Trail (Rose Valley Falls and Newton Canyon Falls: 7-March 2010)
32 Miles From Santa Barbara
: We had actually visited both of the falls before, but our Newton Canyon excursion failed as we somehow missed that waterfall, and our Rose Valley experience happened during a pretty dry Winter. But today promised to yield better experiences given our pretty rainy Winter this year exacerbated by yet another Saturday rain storm yesterday... [read more]

Closure gate at Chaney Trail Road (Failed Millard Falls Adventure: 28-February 2010)
Adventure Always Finds Us
: Today was supposed to be a quickie waterfall trip just to squeeze in one before Julie wanted to meet up with friends for her friend's birthday before noon. We didn't expect to take more than an hour or so, and it was a total last-minute decision. But that was when some unexpected things happened, and well, it just seems that adventure always finds us whenever we're alone... [read more]

Back at Paradise Falls (Paradise Falls: 21-February 2010)
Return To The First
: As we had re-crossed the creek on an easier path over some flattened reeds, we couldn't help but notice a putrid smell that seemed to emanate from the bubbly plunge pool right next to us. I didn't remember the pool being this dirty the last time we were here, but apparently Julie noticed this too as she pulled a face and gave me that look that something really stunk... [read more]

Hiking in nice weather (Holy Jim Falls: 14-February 2010)
Holy Jim Massage
: We had only gone roughly two miles along the rough road, but it seemed like we had gone further than that. Mom was sitting nervously in the back (I could tell by her silence) as her car was jostling back and forth as we went over each rut, pothole, and rock that were in our way. Up ahead of us were two women leaving a mini-van in a spot that didn't seem to be a car park. Mom suggested that I pull up to them and ask if they were at the falls or not. When we spoke to them, they said they didn't want to push their mini-van further along this road. So Mom offered to let them hop on in with us as we were all going to the falls. And they accepted... [read more]

Panorama on return hike (Sycamore Canyon Falls: 24-January 2010)
: Continuing along the familiar trail, we noted that the trail was much softer and muddier than last year. However, it was disconcerting not to see or hear any stream. Still, we continued on, but all we could hear was silence broken only by our voices and footsteps. A little more than half-way there, we saw a hiker headed in the opposite direction. So we asked him how the waterfall was, and his reply was something like, "Well, I don't want to ruin it for you guys... [read more]

Eaton Canyon Falls (Eaton Canyon Falls: 17-October 2009)
Spreading The Love
: There were a lot of firsts about today's hike to Eaton Canyon Falls. It was the first time I was leading a hike with co-workers to expose them to some of the local waterfalls as well as give them a glimpse of our world. It was also the first time we were visiting a local waterfall this late into the year (since we had also assumed that most of the falls here would be trickling or dry given how little consistent rainfall we get even during our Winters. We had a turnout of about a dozen people, which surprised me given most of my co-workers were more city slickers than nature lover. But alas, fires that started two days before the hike made the air quality real bad and we had to call it off... [read more]

Early morning light over Fifth Lake (Big Pine Creek Backpack: 16-July 2009 to 19-July 2009)
Mozzie Mayhem
: I couldn't figure out what was causing the stomach discomfort, whether it was ingesting too much DEET, or from the filtered water, or what. In any case, my bowels were telling me it was time to go, and it seemed like I was the only one with this affliction. It didn't matter that mosquitoes were swarming around and biting me in places where the sun doesn't shine (and where I couldn't put on DEET). I wasn't about to go in my pants. And it was during one of the three or four trips did I also manage to break the fly on the zipper on my pants - further adding to the dustiness, the stickiness of the sunscreen and DEET, and the overall general discomfort of not having showered for a while... [read more]

View of the Los Angeles Basin from Monrovia Canyon (Monrovia Canyon Falls: 12-April 2009)
No Easter Eggs
: And as we spoke with the ranger, she confirmed that we wouldn't be able to make it up to the falls. When Julie asked why, the ranger said, "I'll tell you why..." and pulled out a poster board with photographs of the Hwy 39. It turned out that the road was eroded and had fallen into the canyon. The ranger then went on further to say that when crews were hauling up more material to repair the road, one of the bridges en route had started to sink... [read more]

Panoramic trail view from the crest of the Switzer Falls Trail (Switzer Falls: 7-March 2009)
Unrecognizably Different
: It has been about six years since our last trip to Switzer Falls. Back then, it was during a disappointingly dry winter so the falls itself was disappointing despite it being February. Well, that was 2003 and this was 2009. Still, a month ago we were wondering if we were in for yet another dry winter and a nasty, prolonged drought. But then came a very wet February and that set the stage for today's short but sweet outing into the Angeles National Forest beyond La Canada/Flintridge... [read more]

View of the LA Basin (Sturtevant Falls: 1-March 2009)
Failure To Be The Early Bird
: It was a little before 9am when Mom, Julie, and I left the parents' place for Sturtevant Falls. In my heart, I wanted to leave earlier, but with a combination of a long week of work, wondering if I had to show up Saturday to work, trying to get caught up on sleep, etc., it wasn't meant to be... [read more]

At the top of Tenaja Falls (Tenaja Falls and Ortega Falls: 21-February 2009)
All About Timing
: I was getting a bit tired of stopping at some unknown pullout, getting out of the car, inspecting the scene for Ortega Falls, getting back on Hwy 74 without getting in an accident (thanks to the high speed traffic), then repeat. After what seemed like at least a half-dozen attempts, I finally gave up and proceeded to head north back towards Lake Elsinore. It looked like Ortega Falls would defeat us again just as it did about 7 years ago. As I was zooming past the Ortega Oaks Candy Store, Julie read a passage out of the California Waterfalls book. She said something to the effect that the pullout was 1.6 miles north of the Ortega Oaks Store between that and the village of El Cariso. Well, I guess we weren't going to be defeated after all... [read more]

Santa Barbara seen from Carpinteria (Santa Barbara and Solvang: 13-February 2009 to 14-February 2009)
Sandy Barber
: But this time, we decided to go for some waterfalls that have always haunted us since they were tantalizingly close enough to us, but we always had something that kept us from going to "Sandy Barber" whether it was our fear that the falls wouldn't be flowing, we were busy doing something else, whatever... So this time, we committed to this little bit of an excursion by paying for an accommodation (not cheap) a little over a week ago. Back then, the weather called for cloudy skies, but as the week progressed, it called for rain on the days we'd be there. Doesn't it always seem like something is conspiring to keep us from seeing the best waterfalls here? [read more]

Rare view of Catalina Island (Lower Escondido Falls: 8-February 2009)
Spontaneous Escape
: It had been a very dry winter even despite some sporadic storms that showed up in November and December. But we knew January was unusually warm and was pretty much a dud in terms of rainfall. So when the last three days had been raining pretty hard and continuously, I figured this ought to revive some local waterfalls. After all, it hadn't been since around this time last year that we did a local waterfall. So what the heck? Why not go for it on this Sunday morning? [read more]

Hiking in the snow (Julian and Kitchen Creek Falls: 13-February 2008 to 14-February 2008)
Snow Good Valentine's Day
: It was still rainy and chilly, but Julie and I were quite relieved as the only snow left was on our car. Both of us were also relieved about finally going to the restroom after the tense hour of driving only 20mph through snow. When I hastily returned to the car and its comforting heating, a big caucasian guy in a blue jacket knocked on my door and had me roll down the window. "Did you just come down from the pass?" he said, pointing eastward. "Uh, yeah," said I, thinking he must be going the other way. "What was it like?" he asked. "Uhh, well, it was quite slow. There were a bunch of cops looking like they're about to close to highway," said I. At this point, I wasn't sure where he was going with this. Sensing my hesitation, the guy then said, "I'm with Channel 8 News. Do you mind if I film you?" [read more]

Patterns in the dunes of Death Valley (Death Valley NP: 24-March 2006 to 26-March 2006)
Roughing It In The Desert
: In one moment, Julie and I used our tripod to take a couple photo here, but it was so windy that when the timer was armed and fired and we were smiling for the camera, the wind managed to pick up the tripod and topple it with the camera! It was too late in terms of the impact the camera made with the ground, but I also had to wipe away all that sand and salt that was suddenly all over the newly-bought expensive device... [read more]

Mom checking out the view from the Marble Falls Trail (Marble Falls and Mineral King: 28-May 2005)
Marmots and Ticks
: It quickly became apparent why some people put small wire fences around their vehicles while others left their hood open. There were marmots scurrying about looking to go underneath someone's vehicle and chew on the radiator hoses! My dad guarded the car armed with a trekking pole. He was determined not to let the radiator-hose-eating marmots underneath the vehicle and possibly disable the car... [read more]

A starfish seen by Alamere Falls (Alamere Falls: 8-May 2004)
Nude Awakening
: At about 11:30am, we were past the overgrowth and back on the main trail. At that point, we started to notice some other hikers going in the opposite direction as us. As we had gotten closer to the lakes and ponds section of the trail, Julie and I started to notice that some of the hikers weren't wearing clothes! We had never shared a trail with nude hikers and we had to admit that it was kind of an uncomfortable feeling trying not to look and stare at the unusual scene. I'm sure had these folks been young and attractive (especially of the opposite sex), Julie might have forced me to keep moving. But this first guy we encountered looked to be pretty old and wrinkly and probably into his 50s or older, and I didn't need to be forced to keep moving... [read more]

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