Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fish Canyon Falls Hike - October 24, 2015

Dan Simpson at dry Fish Canyon Falls, Angeles National Forest, October 24, 2015
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the monthly visits to Fish Canyon Falls in my continued quest to hike it every month for a year. This will be only my second time ever hiking Fish Canyon in October, which makes sense since October is certainly not an ideal time to be hiking here. In July the falls were merely a trickle wetting the rock face, and the pool was mostly dry with only a few inches of water in the deeper section. In August and September it was bone dry. We had some strong rain in September which brought parched vegetation back to life, but it was not enough to create a flow over the falls. We had some strong rain earlier this week, so we’ll see if that makes a difference.

After an intense week of being out of down on business, I am looking forward to relaxing in nature. There are ten cars in the parking (aside from mine). It’s supposed to be in the 90s today, so an early start is a good thing.

Heading north on Fish Canyon Trail, Angeles National Forest
7:33 AM - Begin hike. Soon the high canyon walls cast a full shadow on the canyon floor as I walk through the quarry. I cross the bridge into the national forest at 7:48. The recent rains have helped sustain the perked-up vegetation. There is virtually nothing in bloom. The canyon is quiet and peaceful. Crickets are chirping and birds are singing. I stop and pick more of the weedy castor bean plant sprouts. There is not much in the way of fall colors. The tree of heaven jungle is just starting to hint at turning yellow. Weedy grass along the trail is greening up after recent rains.

Heading north on Fish Canyon Trail near Old Cheezer Mine, Angeles National Forest
As I get to Old Cheezer mine site, several parties pass us coming and going. One guy has his music device blaring, oblivious to fundamental outdoor courtesies. I step into the full sun at 8:47 at the location of the big-leaf maples. Heading north on Fish Canyon Trail near, Angeles National Forest Their leaves are mostly brown now. The stream from Darling Donna falls is flowing nicely across the trail. I am thoroughly enjoying the beauty of the canyon.

9:04 - The main creek is totally dry, as it has been for several months. My pace is casual as I saunter along, now back in full shade. As I approach the falls, it is eerily quiet.

9:23 - Fish Canyon Falls. Dan Simpson at dry Fish Canyon Falls, Angeles National Forest, October 24, 2015 There’s no one here. The falls are virtually dry with only a little moisture on its mossy face. The main pool is bone dry. The water level in the lower pool has risen with the recent rain, but is still stagnate with green scum.
Dry Fish Canyon Falls, Angeles National Forest, October 24, 2015   Dry Fish Canyon Falls, Angeles National Forest, October 24, 2015
The large willow tree dominating the heart of the falls area is green, but will lose its leaves into winter. I am thankful that most of the graffiti at the falls has been covered this past month. Lots of pesky bugs. A tiny snake (3 to 4 inches long) evades being photographed as it quickly disappears into a tiny hole. It looks like its head is flared, indicating that it might be a rattlesnake. Nature is amazing. Leafy-daisy (Erigeron foliosus) at dry Fish Canyon Falls, Angeles National Forest Soon a man with a dog arrives, and then a young man and woman. The sun creeps down the face of the falls.

Woody scenery along Fish Canyon Trail, Angeles National Forest
10:23 - Leave falls. The warm sun lights up the canyon. I never get tired of the rugged scenery and splendid trail. Every twist and turn has become a familiar friend. I take a side jaunt to Darlin’ Donna Falls and it is flowing nicely, as always.

On my trip in I noted a purple Mylar balloon hanging in a bay tree. I was wondering how it managed to get there since the canopy above is quite thick. As I repass the spot, I climb down the steep slope to retrieve the aerial litter hanging 12 feet above the ground.

Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) along Fish Canyon Trail, Angeles National Forest
In the tree of heaven jungle, the sun illuminates the leaves. A party of about 7 young adults make their way up the trail. A lone vinca (periwinkle) blossom defies the nearly flowerless setting. Sunflowers, which can bloom all year, have been the primary floristic display today, occasionally smiling upon me. There has also been a lot of bricklebush in bloom, but its small, subtle, greenish, scruffy flowers are hardly noticeable. And there has been single or a limited occurrences of California buckwheat, golden yarrow, wishbone bush, cliff aster, California fuchsia, wild Canterbury bells, chicory-leaved stephanomeria, leafy daisy, red-gland spurge, oleander, sow thistle, and tree tobacco. There’s a yellow flower that I’m not familiar with. After some research at home I found it to be weed: common beggar-ticks (Bidens pilosa).

Leash laws clearly displayed on the Fish Canyon Trail kiosk at the Angeles National Forest boundary
I mention to a gal that federal law requires that her dog be on a leash in the national forest. She claims that the regulation for this trail is only that a dog be under voice command and control, and she says that it is stated on the trailhead kiosk. Later I double checked the signs and regulations. The sign at the parking lot reads, “Keep dogs on a leash at all times.” I don’t know how she could misunderstand that. The sign near the bridge has a section labeled, “Angeles National Forest Dog Policy.” Again, it is crystal clear, “dogs must be kept on a leash” [CFR, Title 36, Chapter II, Sec. 261.8 (d) / Sec.261.16 (j)]. I’m not sure if this gal is simply mistaking or is lawless. Many of the leashless dog owners who I encounter believe that they are above the law. There are so many important reasons for keeping a dog on leash while hiking.

Towering walls along Fish Canyon access trail in Vulcan Materials’ Azusa Rock quarry
I cross the bridge at 11:38 and transition onto the access trail through the quarry. It’s getting warm now. Sheer canyon walls tower above me.

12:04 - End hike. It’s 90 degrees and there are 11 cars in the parking lot (aside from mine).

Epilog - What an enjoyable hike in my beloved Fish Canyon…good people, relaxing exercise, changing seasons, rugged beauty. Nature has a way of recharging us. I’m guessing that my regular visits here are acclimating me to the off-season conditions. Various ones I met today were here for the first time, so they should have a real treat if they return in the spring. Meanwhile, we’ll see what two more months of fall brings. What a blessing to have such a wonderful treasure in my back yard. icon

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See Fish Canyon Falls Hike Description at Dan's Hiking Pages (including a link list for my other blog posts for Fish Canyon)

Plants See Plants in Fish Canyon at Dan's Hiking Pages
(including links to various plant resources)

icon  See Waterfalls of The San Gabriels at Dan's Hiking Pages

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  1. Dan, I am trying to find some kind of coord's for the Darling Donna Falls. Would you happen to have any helpful info? Thank you. :)

    1. Hi Roxane, the coordinates for the junction are approximately 34.17658, -117.92909.
      It’s about 1.2 miles from the bridge (ANF boundary) to the junction and another 50 yards up the creek to the Darlin’ Donna Falls. The junction is about 25 yards past the spiral stair steps and about 0.1 mile short of the main creek crossing.