Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Search For The Hidden Waterfall

Shortly after Devin and I moved to Pasadena, we had the following conversation:

Devin: I read online there's supposed to be a waterfall around here. Back in the mountains.
Me: Yeah?
Devin: Yeah.
Me: That's cool.
Devin: Yeah.

And that was that.

Cut to Super Bowl Sunday, we're having a party, and my friend Tara enters the kitchen while I'm whipping up a pitcher of margaritas.

Tara: So I was just talking to Devin and he mentioned there's some waterfall around here.
Me: Oh yeah. I forgot about that.
Tara: We should check it out some time.
Me: Agreed.

A little backstory here. While I'm not, and never was, what you'd call "outdoorsy," growing up I did enjoy hiking the trails along the waterfalls and gorges of nearby Ithaca. I think it was a combination of the misty air and the fun of clambering around on rocks that drew me in. It'd been years and years since I'd done this, so I got a little microthrill at the thought of something similar in my own backyard.

And because 2011 is the year I don't get lazy and forget about stuff, I decided not to put off The Search For The Hidden Waterfall any longer. So on Saturday, Tara and I got dolled up in our best hiking attire, I asked Seamus the dog "Do you wanna go to the park?! Do you wanna go to the park?!" about 10 times in a high pitched voice until he went bananas, and then we made the drive to Eaton Canyon, home of the alleged waterfall.

The park was alarmingly close to my house. Maybe even close enough to walk to if I was ever feeling super adventurous. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

As we left the parking lot and made our way to the park entrance we looked for signs or a map... how would we know which way to go?

Hey hows about we follow this crowd?

We'd (mostly Tara) read on Yelp that the hike required much sloshing through water and maneuvering over makeshift bridges at trail crossings. I didn't expect the first such instance to be at the absolute start of the trail.

Seamus was all, "Yeah I don't do stepping stones." Too bad. Be a good boy and come with me.

We don't have a picture of this first attempt, but imagine me, balancing on that wobbly log in the pic here, holding up traffic, nearly knocking a small child into the water, arguing with a severely irritated woman (btw who wears lipstick on a hike?), all while Seamus stands between my legs, refusing to budge.

Eventually I just yanked the leash and dragged him to the other side. Back on dry land, we set out for the first leg of the journey, which was hot and sunny and uneventful.

After about fifteen minutes we encountered a fork in the trail. Up ahead, a bridge. Down below, a mystery. "I think Yelp said to go under the bridge for the waterfall," Tara announced. Two passersby nodded in agreement. How helpful. The low road it is!

Soon we found the stream again, the scenery improved, and the hike got more hikey.

Along the way we found evidence of the waterfall ahead, in the form of mini waterfalls.

Seamus did not like where this was going.

Sure enough we'd entered the wet sneakers portion of the hike. I was all about fearlessly leaping from rock to rock. The stream was only about one foot deep and not exactly white water rapids.

Most of the other dogs on the trail were elated to splash around and get their paws wet. But Seamus is a special dog. He doesn't like new things, and this was just too much of a departure from his usual Saturday spent digging in the backyard. So when confronted with a crossing, he did a lot of stopping and starting, a lot of wobbling and whining. And being tethered to him made for an absurd experience.

All the while, Tara, unencumbered by an eighty-pound furry crybaby, traipsed across the rocks with the greatest of ease.
After what was starting to feel like several hours, I grew worried we'd never find the Hidden Waterfall. We just seemed to be getting deeper and deeper into the canyon.

Yet reassurance came in the form of oncoming hikers, who looked as though they were on their way back from a swim.

Then at one point I heard the unmistakeable sound of a waterfall, we rounded the bend and...

TA - DA!

The temperature dropped about ten degrees and I felt the familiar mist in the air. I debated wading around in the pool, but instead we sat and rested for a short while, relieved not only to have made it, but to discover the waterfall was actually worth the trek.

Then there was nowhere to go but back again. Luckily Seamus had warmed up to the notion of wading, and I could at least get him to walk through the water if he didn't want to climb the rocks.

As is always the way, the trip back felt like it took about a third of the time, and before long we were back to where we'd started. Just before we reached the parking lot, a shoeless gypsy child tried to lure us off the path, toward his village, under the pretense that he'd lost his father. Or, at least that's what my imagination would have me believe. In reality we tried to help this scared looking kid who, it turns out, was just some dope who was only about ten yards away from his dozen siblings and totally disinterested mother. There's my good deed for the year.

The hike took up a full afternoon, so it's definitely suited for something to do sporadically or to occupy visitors, rather than replacing the reliability of a quick trip around Runyon Canyon. Then again, we never did see what happens if you walk on the bridge instead of under it...

I guess another adventure awaits us!


  1. Are you telling me we could have gone hiking TO A WATERFALL when I visited! Instead we just drank at various establishments ... um well I kinda liked the drinking part... knowing us we probably would have just gone for the drinks!
    NEXT TIME THOUGH.. its on!

  2. Well, you see, I didn't really know until now! I'm slow.