I arrive at Vulcan’s gate at 6:55 a.m. and there is a long line of cars waiting for the 7:00 opening. The guard opens the gate punctually and about 22 cars immediately populate the parking lot. There are several large groups.
7:09 - Begin hike. I wander through the quiet quarry. The temperature is brisk (about 50 degrees) but not uncomfortable. The sky is clear and blue and the sun alights on the upper portion of the steep west quarry wall. We had a good rain on Wednesday into Thursday so everything is fresh (and a little muddy in places). As I transition to the riparian section of the access trail, I am greeted by blossoms on mule fat, everlasting, California buckwheat, and golden current (first occurrence of this I’ve since this year).
(the first I’ve seen of both this year), wild cucumber, canyon sweet pea, and the ever-present common sunflower. And of course weeds: common beggar-ticks, sow thistle, filaree, and mustard, and the landscape plants: a few purple blooms of vinca and a profusion of jade. The canyon still has the feel of winter with many of the deciduous trees and shrubs in their leafless state. Some poison oak is beginning to sprout its tender leaves…a harbinger of what I will face shortly on my adventure.
I stop occasionally and review the topo maps and aerials to get a better feel of the canyon’s topography as I ponder features to explore. There is a constant flow of eager hikers on the trail today, including several big groups. Near the Old Cheezer Mine site, a large boulder has fallen onto the trail.
At 8:34 I step into the sun. I bypass Darlin’ Donna without stopping for a visit.
10:15 - Leave falls to begin the adventure.
ADVENTURE: I’ve decided to withhold the narrative of my adventure. It posed serious risks and I really don’t want to encourage hikers to embark on this off-trail escapade. I would feel terrible if some hiker had to be airlifted out after reading my blog post and attempting the route. I would hate to see this become another Eaton Canyon death trap.|
Below are some pictures of the adventure.
See Adventure Debrief for more considerations for off-trail excursions.
2:52 - Finish adventure! Wow, what a relief to be back on a safe and comfortable trail. Four hours and 47 minutes of sheer roughing it through hostile terrain (See Adventure Debrief below).
I decide to head up trail back to the falls. The falls are in full shade now and only a few people are here. I am still buzzed from my adventure.
3:09 - Leave falls. My pace is deliberate but relaxed as I enjoy the comparative ease of a nice trail. The sun is warm and lights the canyon quite differently from the morning hours. At the Dudleya site a couple is looking at the rare plant. We chat for a few minutes. At the Darlin’ Donna junction I decide to take a quick jaunt to visit the charming waterfall. I’m glad I did. There has been a big debris slide that has obliterated vegetation near the falls and changed the whole feel of the setting. Back on the main trail as I near Old Cheezer’s, I step from the warm sun into the shade cast by the west canyon wall. I never get tired of this beautiful canyon. There are still hikers coming up the trail with insufficient time to complete the trip to the falls before the 5:00 closing time. I cross the bridge at 4:09 onto Vulcan’s access trail and enjoy my stroll through the quarry to my waiting car.
4:24 - End hike. There are 26 cars still in the lot and it’s about 74 degrees. My Fitbit recorded 14,594 steps for the hike.
Epilog - What an adventure to culminate 12 continuous months of Fish Canyon visits. I am tired and dirty and have bruises, scrapes, and scratches. But I feel so good. I am indeed grateful for a safe trip and an amazing canyon. I have a renewed appreciation for a fine trail allowing us to penetrate deep into wild places safely without having to embark on treacherous expeditions. And of course I’m not stopping at month 12 as we approach the next three months and the very best season for hiking my beloved Fish Canyon.
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)
See Plants in Fish Canyon at Dan's Hiking Pages
(including links to various plant resources)
See Waterfalls of The San Gabriels at Dan's Hiking Pages
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