It's been almost 3 months since I've done a real hike.
I have missed it terribly.
Getting outside, amidst the quiet, the towering trees, the birds and butterflies, and the splashing creeks soothes my soul.
It restores me.
It fills me up.
And, even a hike we've done before always offers adventure.
I love adventure.
When our hike takes us to a new place, it's even better.
Because there is a part of me that longs for discovery.
The truth is, I miss the days of travel.
I miss spur of the moment road trips.
I miss flying far away.
I miss finding a town we've never been to and setting off to explore it's streets, shops and restaurants.
Right now, some of those things are just not possible.
Others require more thought and effort.
I could give up--wait until my kids are more grown, we have more money and things are easier.
Or, I could just do my best with what I've got right now.
That's what I do.
We may only be driving 40 minutes away, but it's still a brand new place.
It's a chance to discover a great little town--Old Town Monrovia--who knew it was so great?
And up the hill from the perfectly vintage down town is Monrovia Canyon Park.
I strapped Davy into the Baby Bjorn and we were back on the trail!
We chose this park because it has a year round, spring fed waterfall.
In Southern California, aside from the beach and swimming pools, year round water is unusual.
And if you are doing a hike in late August, cold water had better be involved with it somehow.
The waterfall was divine.
But before we even got to the waterfall, the hike was full of magic.
The drive up into the foothills from the 210 freeway led us past an old gas station, the 3 old pumps still standing out front. (william wanted us to come back and take pictures)
As mentioned, Old Town Monrovia is lined with old, brick buildings, and it's full of charm.
I can't wait to go back and explore more.
Once you get into park, you can't believe you were in civilization moments ago.
It's a big park, full of oaks and sycamores, lots of green and lots of wildlife.
We saw BEARS.
Not just this one outside the nature center, but real bears--California Black Bears.
I had to feed Davy before we started hiking and I headed to a place for me to sit and the kids to run around.
A gentleman standing in the path where we were walking said, "be careful. There are bears up there."
Not wanting to miss the chance for our first bears in the wild sighting, we walked ahead a bit so we could see the mama and her cub.
They were working on getting into a trash can and completely ignoring us and the 4 other people watching them.
We didn't get too close. They were probably 40 feet away.
After all, I was standing there nursing a baby and holding the hand of my 3 year old.
We couldn't have run very fast.
I didn't even go back to the car to get my camera, because we didn't want to stop watching them.
It was a complete thrill.
The kids couldn't believe it.
After Davy filled up, we tore ourselves away and hit the trail.
Every person we saw stopped us and warned us, "just want to let you know, there are some bears out..."
The ranger told us to be loud and crazy.
William said, "I'm good at that."
The trail to the falls starts at the bottom of the park and you can join up where you want, making your hike as long or short as you want.
We started at a lower point of the trail.
The kids promptly left it and went exploring.
They quickly found the creek and went in.
We ate lunch creek side while the kids built a dam, threw rocks and found wildlife.
We kept and ear out for the bears.
After our time at the creek, 2 of us decided to go onto the falls.
We drove up to start our hike at the shortest section of the falls trail--the 3/4 mile marker. (that's one way)
Typically our hikes are longer, but it was already 100 degrees and we almost didn't make it out of our air conditioned cars.
Thankfully the trails is almost entirely shaded and not too strenuous.
The way to the falls is largely uphill, and the trail is narrow and quite steep.
It is not stroller friendly.
If you have a little runner, you'll want to hold onto their hands.
We were all very, very hot and sweaty by the time we made it to the falls.
I think we all wanted to turn back, even though it really wasn't a long hike.
But we pressed on and the pay off was glorious!
The waterfall was clear, cold perfection.
It took all my self control not to strip to my skivies and jump right in.
Next time I'll wear a bathing suit.
I've read the falls are very crowded on the weekend.
But on a 100 degree weekday, there were only 2 other people with us at the falls.
True to form, the kids started climbing around on the rocks
and found a natural water slide.
They came back to the falls and some of the braver ones ventured right under the gushing water.
William stepped on a bee, and baby Joe fell in the creek, so there was drama.
There always is when you are hiking with little people.
We had 7 of them between the 2 of us.
But playing in that waterfall made it all worth it.
The hike back to the cars is mostly downhill.
It can be slippery, but really not hard to navigate.
I really can't say enough good things about this park.
Besides the waterfall, the rest of it was beautiful too.
And besides the bears, there was lots more wildlife to be found.
The kids found a frog and this lizard.
Miss Rebbecca found this dead dragonfly along the trail.
There were an amazing variety of butterflies.
Some were ones I had never seen before.
All of us walked right past this nest, but William, my eagle eye, spotted it.
As to hiking with a newborn, it wasn't bad.
He was a dream baby.
He ate on the go and slept in the Bjorn, covering both of us in sweat.
I will say that I am getting a new carrier asap.
I only used that Bjorn for all my babies when they were small and not for extended periods of time.
My shoulders and neck were killing by the end of the hike.
The first hike with all 4 was a terrific success.
We were BEAT by the time we made it back to the car, but I am so happy we made it and are back on the trail.
My kids are awesome!
My legs are feeling that hike today (yes, it doesn't take long for me to get out of shape) so we'll be sitting on the beach tomorrow instead of hiking.
I can't wait.