Sunday, November 23, 2008

Spring of 2005 waterfall blitz

The winter and spring of 2005 was a banner rainfall season in southern California. Creeks were flowing at biblical-flood levels and Dave Rivas and myself got a notion to hike into the 15 major waterfalls in our neck of the Los Padres National Forest. It was a hiking blitz we have not replicated since, but the memories are fantastic.

We hit (in no particular order): East, West and Middle Lyons falls; Tar Creek's two big falls; Matillaja's big falls; Rose Valley falls; White Ledge falls; San Ysidro falls; the Sespe through Piedra Blanca; and the three biggies up Santa Paula Canyon.

There were two huge events that season. Tar Creek used to have a fabulous creek-bed bouldering field full of bus-sized boulders. That place was kbnown as a destination spot for highball bouldering and it got completely wiped off the map by the floods that came down that canyon. Huge, monolithic stones were smashed to bits. We found a boulder were there was never one before, perched ten feet above the usual waterline. See picture above. The amount of energy that came down that canyon was simply astonishing.

The second big event was the complete destruction of the Ferndale trail in Santa Paula canyon. Imagine a gentle, tree-shaded trail meandering for miles up a valley. That same trail was reduced to a pulverized mess of rock that bore no resemblance to the place we knew. Rivas and I scrambled up that canyon two days after the big storm and before long our tracks were the only tracks to be found. We were the first up that canyon and, believe me, every step was a struggle. We were climbing and traversing above fast, deep and cold water. Mistakes would have likely been fatal but, my god, the devastation was an awesome thing to behold.

What I remember most fondly, though, was the pretty little waterfalls up in the Lyons Basin. They just overflowed with crystal turquoise water. Gorgeous.

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