Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fish Canyon Falls Hike - November 22, 2015

Dan Simpson at Fish Canyon Falls, Angeles National Forest, November 22, 2015
I’ve been looking forward to my monthly visit to Fish Canyon as I have been endeavoring to hike it every month for a year. For the last three months, the falls have been bone dry. But I’ve seen pictures showing that recent rains have begun to wet the falls and fill the pools. So I’m eager for my visit.

My wife has the car today, so I have to walk to the trailhead, typically about 2.3 miles from my home in Azusa. But today I encounter an unexpected obstacle: water! As I reach the check dam where I cross the San Gabriel River, the river is flowing and blocks my route.
Water flowing over a check dam on the San Gabriel River near Fish Canyon
Any attempt to cross would be deemed an aquatic sport, and I don’t have stilts or wings. So I follow the river trail south 0.75 mile and cross the footbridge. View north toward Fish Canyon from the footbridge over the San Gabriel River I then head north on Encanto Parkway to the trailhead. There are less than a dozen cars in the parking lot. The temps are supposed to be in the high 80s today.

Heading north from the trailhead on the Fish Canyon access trail into Vulcan’s quarry
8:02 AM - Begin hike. The sky is blue and the sun feels good. I stroll through the quarry lined with towering canyon walls. The lighting is different from month to month as the sun cycles through the seasons. I pass into the riparian section of the access trail and begin snapping shots of the scarce flowers in bloom (at this point, one occurrence of golden yarrow, some buckwheat, and a lone bush monkeyflower).

Heading north on Fish Canyon Trail, Angeles National Forest
8:21 - Cross the bridge into the national forest. The creek here is bone dry. I sauntering along and appreciate the changes that autumn has brought to the canyon. The alders, sycamores, maples, and poison oak are mostly leafless now. Some poison oak is still beautiful orange and some willows are golden yellow. The tree of heaven is just starting to turn yellow. There is virtually nothing in bloom.

Heading north on Fish Canyon Trail, Angeles National Forest
Since it is a little later then I usually start, and the sun is further south, I’m enjoying sections of the trail that are graced by sun where they would usually be in the shade. The recent winds have blown down a dead tree in the Old Cheezer Mine area (near the matilija/dudleya interpretive sign) and one across the trail at little further along. Fallen tree on Fish Canyon Trail, Angeles National Forest The fig tree still has its leaves. Occasionally small parties of other hikers pass me heading down. The sound of water in sections of the canyon below is most pleasant. I bypass Darlin’ Donna.

9:40 - Main creak crossing. It’s bone dry. Now I climb the east wall just enjoying the scenery. There are some noisy voices behind me so I keep a pace to reach the falls before them.

Dan Simpson at Fish Canyon Falls, Angeles National Forest, November 22, 2015
10:00 - Fish Canyon Falls. Wow, there’s water! What a pleasant change from the last several months! The main pool is full to within about 18 inches of its waterline. A trickle of water wets the face of the falls. The moss has turned rich green. The lower pool is mostly full. The stream between the pools is still dry but water flowing from underneath tumbles down the chute. I ponder the “glass half full/half empty” maxim. If I arrive here in the early summer and the falls are a mere dribble, I’m disappointed that they are drying up. If I arrive here in late autumn and the falls are a mere dribble, I’m excited to see the water returning. I guess the whole issue of the glass being half empty or half full depends upon the water level before it reached the halfway point.

I enjoy the peaceful setting. Fish Canyon Falls, Angeles National Forest, November 22, 2015 A frog is croaking. The gooseberry bush is sprouting new leaves from it winter stems…might be seasonally confused. The large black willow tree is still in full leaf yet to display its gorgeous falls colors. I spot several more Dudleya densiflora plants growing from the sheer rock face that I don’t recall seeing before. A few people come and go. I chat with some. I never get tired of this wonderful setting.

Heading south on Fish Canyon Trail toward Old Cheezer Mine, Angeles National Forest    Riparian setting along Fish Canyon Trail, Angeles National Forest
Tree of heaven jungle, Fish Canyon Trail, Angeles National Forest, November 22, 2015    Heading south on Fish Canyon Trail toward Vulcan Materials quarry, Angeles National Forest
10:53 - Leave falls. I retrace my steps and appreciate the warm sun, blue sky, fresh air, rugged canyon, and rich plant life. I take the brief side jaunt to admire Darling Donna Falls, which is flowing modestly. I occasionally encounter other parties coming up the trail, mostly groups of a few. My pace is more deliberate as I have other tasks pressing my day. It’s feeling a tad warm in the open sun but I’m so thankful I’m not in the Midwest and Northeast where temps are dropping to the twenties and teens today. I cross the bridge and transition to the access trail at 11:47. Others are still heading to the falls. The quarry sits quite in the full sun. View west on Fish Canyon access trail through Vulcan Materials Azusa Rock quarry

12:05 - End hike. I neglected to count the cars but I’d guess there are less than a dozen. The thermostat in the car reads 88 degrees.

Epilog - Another thoroughly enjoyable visit to my beloved Fish Canyon. One might think I’d get bored with it after numerous visits, but to the contrary. Each visit adds to my love for its beauty. icon

Facebook icon Like Fish Canyon Falls Facebook Page

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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