I had to laugh when I came across this poem that Isaac wrote about himself. You can tell what he's passionate about right now. :)
It's Berkley's big day: our puppy turned 1 year old today. 😀
Yesterday we hiked to Cedar Creek Falls (aka Devil's Punchbowl), a waterfall outside of Ramona & Julian. We invited my family to join us, but Mom & Aaron weren't feeling well, so it was just the 7 of us, plus the dogs. I hadn't been there since I was about 15 years old, and have been looking forward to doing it again for a while.
We've been waiting a while to do this hike -- until the whether wasn't too hot, because there are lots of warnings about people and pets getting heat stroke on this trail in the hotter times of the year. And this trail was closed down for a while, because people were using it as a party destination and there was overcrowding, and someone died either cliff jumping or falling from the Falls. But since then it has been opened back up, with permits to limit the number of people on the trail each day, and rules about not climbing the rocks surrounding the falls, and no cliff jumping (although plenty of people were jumping from the lower cliffs while we were there).
Anyway, we expected a hike somewhat similar to Three Sisters Falls, but although this hike was a long downhill descent to get to the waterfall like Three Sister's is, that's about the only similarity. Cedar Creek Falls is a single, large falls with a large, deep pool at the base. I don't know exactly how high the falls are, but I'd guess somewhere around 80 feet, so it is an impressive waterfall (especially for Southern California). And we have lucked out on all our waterfall explorations lately, since we had so much rain the last couple months, because there was a lot of water flow -- we heard other hikers commenting that sometimes the falls can be just a trickle, or even have no water flow at all.
Anyway, the hike was relatively easy, even the long descent back up to the trailhead on the way out -- compared to Three Sisters, at least. And although the falls was beautiful and we really enjoyed this hike together as a family, there were far too many people on the trail and at the falls for my liking. (I know, that's what we get for going on a Saturday, but we did that so Michael could go with us). And the occasional signs along the trail telling people to stay on trail to avoid erosion, and the signs at the falls telling people not to climb the rocks or cliff jump -- all a little too much for me. I prefer a more wild trail, with less government involvement (rules), and more feeling like you're out in the middle of nowhere really exploring. That being said, I am so glad that the local government did decide to re-open this trail and make it available to the public again, rather than keeping it closed for good -- and I'd put up with plenty of rules and trail signs to be able to have access to it. I think it's a sad day when any nature location is closed to the public.
Anyway, the long walk down the hillside was scattered with wildflowers, and occasional boulders along the trail that the boys enjoyed climbing. And with the nice water levels, there were a few stream crossings at the bottom of the hill. One of the parts of the hike that was most fun was a huge rock outcropping to the left of the trail that was just within view of the falls -- everyone else was looking straight up toward the falls and didn't stop, but we stopped to climb those rocks and got great views of the falls from up top.
When we got to the falls there were lots of people sitting on the rocks at the base, and a few climbing around on the side and up top. Several college-aged kids were jumping from the rocks to the left of the falls. Michael would have done that too, if it hadn't been for us trying to follow the rules of the permits. But some of the boys got into the water a bit, and Michael decided to take a swim. The water was freezing, and he took a long time to warm up afterward. He also hurt his knee somehow when he was swimming, which made the hike back out rather painful for him, but he roughed it out & made it back up. (Swimming in cool water on a hot day would be one reason to brave that hike in the summertime).
I was all prepared to try to be patient, and to help the kids along on the long hike up and out -- just because this was our fourth hike of the week and some of the hikes earlier in the week were pretty strenuous. My muscles are still a little sore from several long hikes in a row. Surprisingly, though, the boys walked up ahead of us on the trail all the way out and waited patiently for us at the trailhead. Only Courtland slowed down and walked with us the last mile or so. But though he said he was tired, he didn't slow us down any. They really did great.
So, my favorite hike is still Three Sisters, hands down. I love the fact that it feels more "wild," and the trail itself is more challenging, and there is so much bouldering while making your way upstream to the falls, and no signs or regulations. Just be smart, pack plenty of water and food, explore, challenge yourself, and have fun.
I'd love to do a long hike to a cool destination like these once a week, if only we could fit it in to our daily schedules (even on a day when I don't have a lot going on while the boys are in school, I still need to be home in the morning to see the boys off, and in the afternoon when they get out of school -- so it limits how far away I can go for hiking while they're in school). I guess we'll just have to settle for school holidays and Saturdays for now.
The boys and I have had a fun and tiring week of big hikes that we've been waiting to do for some time until the weather was cool enough for these locations. On Wednesday we had a grand adventure as we hiked Three Sisters Falls, today we ventured to Painted Canyon (aka Ladder Canyon Trail), and tomorrow we've got permits to go to Cedar Creek Falls (aka Devil's Punchbowl).
So Ladder Canyon was today. I've been itching to explore this series of slot canyons connected by ladders since I read about it online last summer. But we haven't been able to go until now, because we not only needed to wait until the weather was cool enough and there was no chance of rain, but we also needed to have a whole day to devote to it because the drive is 2.5 to 3 hrs both ways. (Luckily we went when there wasn't much traffic, so it ended up being a little closer to 2.5 hrs than 3 hrs each way this time).
We did the 5 mile loop hike up through the narrow slot canyons with all the ladders, onto the trail along the top of the canyon ridge, and back down into the wider canyon, down a couple more ladders, and back to the cars.
We got to see a view from the top of the ridge of the cool dessert hills and canyons, with the Salton Sea beyond that. And there were so many different kinds of cool rocks (rose quartz was the only one I knew the name of), but there was such a variety of colors of rocks scattering the ground, and in the canyon walls. We only had one casualty -- unfortunately Kolby scraped up his same knee that he had hit on a rock at the previous hike, but it didn't slow him down too much until near the end of the hike.
We also really wanted to explore another side canyon back near where we parked, but we had already spent 4 hours there and still had to grab dinner (the Costco food court in Palm Dessert was the perfect inexpensive/quick place to stop), get gas, and drive home on some dark and rather windy roads after a long day, so we'll have to save exploring that other canyon for another time. (The boys said we should camp there sometime, which sounds like a great idea to me to get more out of it with such a long drive to get there).
The narrow slot canyons were great fun, and there were lots of little side canyons that could have kept us busy for a lot longer. There were also lots of cool rocks that the boys had fun collecting, and some pretty yellow California poppies that I enjoyed (the orange ones are one of my favorite flowers).
The boys enjoyed jumping, climbing, finding hiding places, and bouldering. And we decided it would have been a great hike to take our dogs along on, except that a few of the ladder spots were too steep for them to climb up the side on their own, and we don't know how well the dogs could do getting up (or down) ladders??? We did see someone else there with a dog, and wondered how it had done with the ladders (but I did see that it had a little harness on it's back, and wondered if they just lowered it up and down?).
Anyway, it was a fun hike, and a fun place to explore. The boys were starting to get worn out by the end (especially after our long hike the other day). Hope they're not so worn out that they don't enjoy the hike to Cedar Creek Falls tomorrow. I, for one, am getting tired and am rather sore after doing these longer hikes in a row, but am loving it (and I would love it if there were any way to get in one of these long hikes to cool locations once a week).