Tuesday, April 12, 2011

#169: Eaton Canyon Waterfall Hike and Nature Walk

After a morning of taxes, and an energizing lunch at my fave Pasadena spot Cham Korean Bistro, Brad and I headed to Altadena to get our feet wet at the Eaton Canyon Nature Area.

An educational stroll

Eaton Canyon is my kind of place: it has free parking and admittance! After stopping at the visitor's center to get a map, we started our walk off like an old married couple, taking a leisurely stroll along the Oak Terrace nature trail. There are 11 stops along this short trail. With pamphlet in hand, we read the descriptions at each stop. It was quite the educational experience--now I know for sure what poison oak looks like (not what I thought it was...), and I also found a new favorite plant: the yucca plant.

a living yucca on the left. a dead one on the right.

This amazing plant lives for 8-12 years, then in the last two weeks of its life, it shoots up a huge stalk that sprays seeds all over the place. Talk about going out with a bang!

After completing the loop, we were ready for the main attraction: the waterfall hike (3 miles, moderate). It seemed like everyone in Altadena was going to the waterfall: young children, older folks, dogs, babies... Brad commented halfway that this was one of the most diverse hikes we've been on. Now normally I don't like a crowded hike, but it actually warmed my heart seeing so many people willing to get their feet and pants absolutely soaked just to see a waterfall.

Yes, I said soaked. If you're going on this hike, prepare to walk at least half of the way with wet feet. That's because you'll be doing 10 river crossings. And that's just one way.

Crossing #1: This is easy

Now we had no idea that there were 20 river crossings in our future. At the visitor's center, one of the rangers simply told us about the first crossing, and advised us that it's best to just walk through the water instead of rock hopping. That's because a lot of people twist their ankles on unsteady rocks and branches. Well, like most of the people heading to the waterfall, we didn't follow the ranger's advice, so there was a traffic jam of people waiting in line to rock hop across the river. Even as we saw all the people coming back from the waterfall soaked from the knees down, we stubbornly refused to get our feet wet.

Crossing #2: Whew, that was a thin log

We got through the first 7 or so crossings fine, but by the 8th one, it became obvious that our feet were taking a dip: there simply weren't any stones to hop onto. So we rolled up our pants and stepped into the icy cold water. And you know what? It was liberating. With wool socks, it wasn't even that cold. After embracing the wetness, we bypassed the lines, and just walked right through the water.

Oh, and the waterfall? Amazing.

Brad insisted on taking pictures of all 10 river crossing for y'all, so enjoy:

Along the easy nature loop

That's it on the left! Very tasty.

Stink bug. Nutritious!

Crossing #3: Piece o' cake.
Crossing #4: If those little kids can do it, so can I.
Crossing #5: Come on, give me something challenging.
Crossing #6: I'm loving this
Crossing #7: Eek! A little water seeped through.
Crossing #8: Hmmm that pipe is pretty shaky.
Crossing #9: Aw the heck with it. Wet socks it is!
Crossing #10: Almost there
Made it!
There's a mariachi player at the end of this rainbow

Have you gotten your feet wet at Eaton Canyon? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

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  1. next time it rains we're going back. i wanna get soaked.

  2. my husband has done this hike numerous times with friends and i FINALLY went and it was soooo fun! it was a little chilly when we went but it was worth it. you also might get a little wet from trying to hop on the rocks over the river...def. will be doing this one again!

  3. awesome christina! so glad you enjoyed it! :)