Monday, November 21, 2011

Temescal Canyon: A Perfect Fall Hike

Usually filling up every day with activity causes me some anxiety.
I need down time.
A day or 2 spent at home, when the car doesn't leave the driveway, are an essential part of my well being.
But I knew with Aaron being away, I'd need to fill our schedule more than usual.
For me, and for the kids.
We'd all need a distraction.
It's been nearly a week since he left and we've been busy.
There has been a lot of fun.
A lot of distraction.
It's made the time go by a lot faster.
But now we need some down time.
Time to get the house ready for our Thanksgiving guests.
Time to slow down.
Time to detox a bit.
Sometimes there is such a thing as too much fun.
We kind of hit that wall today.
I'm not naming any names, but some of the people around here need to reboot.
Big time.
Last week, the day after Aaron left, we did our weekly hike.
I woke up with almost no voice, a sore and scratchy throat, and almost opted out of the hike.
I'm so glad I didn't.
It was a new location for us.
And I'm a sucker for a new hike.
So off we went to Temescal Canyon Park in Pacific Palisades.
It was the perfect fall hike.

Temescel Canyon is at the very southern end of Malibu.
It is just a bit inland from PCH and the Pacific.
It's off of Sunset Blvd, and in the middle of fancy schmancy neighborhoods.
But it feels a million miles away from all that.

The air was on the cool side, the light was soft and lovely, and the trees were showing their fall colors.
It almost felt like we weren't in Southern California.

From the parking lot, we followed the road to the trail head.
Our group opted to do the Waterfall Trail.
That is an out and back trail, just over 3 miles from the first parking lot.
It has about a 750 foot elevation gain.
It was just right for our group--challenging enough to make us feel good, but not so hard we hated it.
I could not recommend this park more.
It was full of so many different kinds of places to explore and enjoy.
(for more park/hike details, go to the end of the post)

Just around the first bend of the trail, we came upon this amazing, green glen.
Huge California Sycamores made for dappled shade and great leaf collecting.

The kids made a beeline for the biggest tree and ate lunch there.
It was also a perfect spot for the game of revolutionary war they played after lunch.

All us moms decided it was the perfect spot for renewing our vows.
To each other.
Or our husbands.
It was really, really beautiful.
Almost magical.

After lunch and poetry recitation, we reluctantly left that little spot of paradise and got back on the trail.
From the giant sycamores, we found ourselves in a grove of giant Live Oaks.
Another gorgeous spot.

The trail goes deeper into the canyon.

As it goes, the vegetation gets thicker.

And the trail gets narrower.

There were so many different plants and trees.
From the sycamores and oaks, to palm trees and redwoods.
There were sweet flowers like these Bush Marigolds.

And not so sweet flowers like this vine, Cape Ivy.
I saw some trees so covered in this vine that the branches were broken off from the weight of the vine covering it.
It's pretty, but considered invasive.

After a time down in the canyon, the trail opens up a bit and the 750 foot climb begins.
The lush vegetation and shady canopy of the canyon floor gives way to the dry, chaparral covered hillsides.

As the trail climbs upward, there are tempting spots for climbing across the deepening ravine next to the trail.
Huge trees, reaching from bank to bank are just perfect for climbing across.

James had to try this one.
You can't tell from the picture, but it's quite a ways above the creek bed, and there are lots of big boulders right below.
It makes me kind of nervous sometimes, but my boys are really good climbers and I try to quell my fears and let them test their own abilities.
It's good for them.

The thing is, Lilly also thinks she is a really good climber.

And she is.
But she is also 3.
That girl is going to give me a heart attack.

Did I mention how beautiful the fall light was that day?

Once we were out of the canyon and in the sun, the air felt a lot warmer.

The trail got steeper fast.

And rocky.
This is definitely not a stroller friendly trail.
Sturdy shoes are also recommended.

Even though this isn't a very long hike, it is still a pretty intense climb.
You can really feel that 750 feet after a while.
At one point Lilly said to me, "Mommy, I'm little."
Knowing exactly what she meant, I told her, "Lil, Mommy can't carry you.  I'm carrying Davy."
"Ok," she said.  "I'm getting big."
And my little girl made it all the way to the top on her own little legs.
That girl is made of tough stuff.
In fact, each time other hikers passed us, they made encouraging comments about our group.
One group of guys, all huffing and puffing, said to us, "how do you do it?"
Another man said to me, "it's an army of mothers!"
And someone else said, "wow!  I wish I was hiking like this when I was 3 years old."

Those are the moments when I feel really proud of myself, my kids and my group.
Our kids hiked that trail and climbed that trail without complaint.
We moms were carrying babies and backpacks and holding the hands of toddlers who needed a steady hand.
We had a goal and we accomplished it.
Yeah.  It felt really good.

And even though the waterfall was merely a trickle, (it's seasonal so it's at it's lowest point in the fall.  when James saw it, he said, "THIS is the waterfall?") we still felt pretty great about making it there.

We let the kids climb around down by the small pool of water and explore the rocks.
I nursed Davy, poor William had a hard time finding a private place to pee (yes, I let my kids pee out in the wild--I've done it myself, so there) and everyone recovered from our climb.
Then we headed back down the big hill.

It's a pretty steep drop into the canyon from the trail.
There were frequent reminders of, "no running!"  "Stay on the inside of the trail!"  and "No running!"

There are lots of other trails to explore at Temescal Canyon Park, but we had to leave those to another day.

Because, aside from being too tired to take on another trail, we'd promised the kids we'd return to this place.
It's near the entrance to the park between the first and second parking lot.

James named it "Kids' Island."
It was their version of paradise.

A creek, with boulders and logs for climbing on.
A bridge for running across.

And this tree growing on the bank.
The roots made the one of the coolest forts ever.
They could have happily stayed and played for hours.
In fact, my boys asked if they could have their birthday party there.
Which is just about the highest honor they could bestow on a place.

It was a great day.
And, of course, Davy was along for the ride.
He's a happy little hiker already.
Of course, he's not really hiking, but he's happy to be toted around by his mama.
And I'm pretty happy to tote him.
I love my little nature baby.

These are the days that make me say, "I love my job!"
Love from,

More Park/Trail Details:
The stop signs in this park are photo enforced.  Make sure you come to a complete stop or you'll get ticketed.
Parking is $7 and is self pay.  Bring exact change.
To get closer to the trail heads, drive into the park and park at the farthest lot.
There are clean, well maintained restrooms near the camp store.  In case you don't want to pee in nature.
The trail was much more crowded in the afternoon, on our way down.  I imagine it's very crowded on the weekend.
This is not a stroller friendly trail.
Go here to check out the other trails.


Katie said...

I love the group pic on the bridge. You have an amazing group of friends and fellow home schoolers.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that is awesome! What a great trail ~ Thank you for sharing!