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January 28, 2008

The Waterfall

(Administrative note: this week’s blog entries will be photo essays, with some audience feedback solicited at the conclusion of the second post. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to do anything crazy like voting in an on-line popularity contest – I’m done with that sort of thing. Until then, just sit back and take in some pictures from the weekend.)


All things considered, perhaps the place should have a different name.

The land formation known as the waterfall at Garland Ranch is actually just a steep outcropping of rocks that remain dry for the vast majority of the year. Visitors frequently see the name on a trail map, and hike to the spot expecting something majestic or tropical, only to find that it’s not quite as spectacular as they imagined.

Each year, the rock formation spends more than ten months completely dry – but after several heavy rains fall on the land basin above it, and the ground slowly grows more saturated, sometime during the mid-winter I’ll inevitably initiate the following conversation at home:

Me: Hey, guess what? The waterfall’s running again.

Kids: Cool! Let’s go see it!

And so it was that my kids and I took advantage of a lull between storms, and hiked to the waterfall last Saturday afternoon.

The waterfall trail is part of our running group’s regular Friday morning route, so I’m fortunate to pass by the rock formation at least once per week. Lately, the trail is still dark when we pass through the canyon, so it was especially nice to enjoy it in the daylight this time around - and of course, when I’m hiking with the kids, the pace is slow enough for me to snap a few pictures along the way.

But first, before we get to the waterfall: remember my last photo post from Garland, when I reported that the Carmel River was so low that you could walk across it in several places without getting your feet wet?

Obviously, we’re not having that problem anymore. Now, on with the hike …

On Fridays, we descend this trail as our standard approach to the waterfall. The single track is fairly narrow and technical before giving way to a series of stairs and bridges. After crossing this bridge, we round a curve and see the following:

See the stream of water at the center? That’s Carmel Valley’s world-famous, 6-weeks-per-year waterfall. If you weren’t actually looking for it, you might miss the whole thing.

This is a view of a lower bridge from the bridge pictured above; just to give you a sense of how much elevation is lost as we descend through the waterfall canyon.

A close-up shot of the waterfall: basically, it’s just a steady trickle of water flowing down the face of the rocks before dripping into a shallow ravine below. Like I said, it’s not exactly Fantasy Island back here. However …

Whenever I look at the top of the waterfall from the base, the lush greenery atop steep cliffs reminds me of a scene out of Lost – then again, just about everything I see lately is reminding me of this Thursday’s Lost season premiere. To say I’m looking forward to it would be putting it quite mildly.

On the other side of the ravine is an embankment that my kids love climbing up. My daughter calls this area Big Thunder Mountain – which makes me think that we might have visited Disneyland a few times too many. Anyway - at the top of the embankment is a cave they like to explore …

We’re 99% certain that bats live inside here. Thankfully, none of the kids has verified this with an actual bat encounter – at least, not yet. On the other hand, we were more than happy to come across these little dudes …

Banana slugs! This was the largest of three different ones that we saw. For my kids, this was the highlight of the day - not the beautiful trails, or the half hour playing around the waterfall – but watching these banana slugs. Talk about simple pleasures. Speaking of my kids …

Sometimes people will ask me why I never include pictures of my children in this blog – so this photo is to appease them. See my kiddos back there? Aren’t they cute? They look a lot like their mother, wouldn’t you say? Oh, wait … you probably can’t answer that either.

Eventually it’s time to go, and we walk down the canyon away from the waterfall:

This is a picture from the lower bridge, looking up at the higher one. When we run through this canyon, we cruise past all this scenery in less than a couple of minutes. Sometimes I find myself wanting to slow down and soak it all in – which, of course, is somewhat problematic when you’re with a group of runners.

That’s why it’s extra nice to bring the kids out here from time to time: I get to share with them the places I run, and they get to remind me how to appreciate it all through the eyes of a child.

And if we happen to spot some banana slugs along the way, the day can’t get much better.


triguyjt 1/28/08, 9:45 AM  

your daughters reference seems dead on..
nice stuff...

I admit, I have not gotten into LOST..but that could change.

nice pics

stronger 1/28/08, 10:14 AM  

Nice kid hike. The slugs were much more visible than the waterfall!

Stacey T. 1/28/08, 10:15 AM  

We need to meet you guys out there one day for some geocaching. We were out yesterday in the rainfall to find a cache that was up by the pond. So much fun for the kids in their raincoats and boots. There are about 15 caches now in Garland!

angie's pink fuzzy 1/28/08, 10:26 AM  

oh Donald, I love it when you post photos of Garland Ranch! I think I only saw the Waterfall running once. I miss it.

Can I make a request for photos of Fern Pond?! :)

Cliff 1/28/08, 11:46 AM  


Great pics. It took some time for my eyes to adjust to seeing so much green.

We are knee deep in snow here in Canada ;D

Backofpack 1/28/08, 1:26 PM  

Nice pictures. It reminds me to appreciate the water we have all around us. Too bad we didn't get pictures of the Cedar River and Wilderness Lake when we were running yesterday - both were beautiful. You could stand on the bridge (hanging on so you didn't fall on the ice) and look down to the bottom of the river. Crystal clear, flowing fast. Breathtaking (or maybe that was just from running?)

olga 1/28/08, 1:42 PM  

Beautiful sights! My friend gail is a big banana slug fan, don't even get her started, she stops and takes them off the trail during the run:)

21stCenturyMom 1/28/08, 5:54 PM  

What a great outing! Did your kids kiss the banana slugs? That is some sort of California kid tradition but I don't know why. It's also a little gross so it's okay if they skip it!

Rainmaker 1/28/08, 7:12 PM  

Banana slugs - nice! I haven't seen those since moving from Seattle.

Nice pics!

Rainmaker 1/28/08, 7:12 PM  

Banana slugs - nice! I haven't seen those since moving from Seattle.

Nice pics!

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) 1/28/08, 7:31 PM  

Dunno, Don, if you're trying to prevent your kids from being stalked, those large, revealing photos were very risky. Isn't that banana slug the UC Santa Cruz mascot or something?

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) 1/28/08, 7:31 PM  

Dunno, Don, if you're trying to prevent your kids from being stalked, those large, revealing photos were very risky. Isn't that banana slug the UC Santa Cruz mascot or something?

Annette 1/28/08, 9:27 PM  

What a great place to be able to run/hike regularly! A nice change from running on the roads like I usually do.

Enjoy Lost on Thursday! I can't wait either! Unfortunately, I'm going to miss the first hour, so I'll have to watch it online later. :( I will avoid your blog until I watch it - just in case. :)

Anne 1/29/08, 2:01 PM  

Love the photos, even the closeups of the banana slugs (ewwwwwww). I, too, have Lost on the brain.

Dying Water Buffalo 1/30/08, 10:15 AM  

ahh banana slugs!

what great pictures! that looks like an awesome day out exploring... and shows how many interesting things you can spy if you slow down a bit and look around.

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