Tag Archives: rock

Lizard Rock & Paradise Falls at Wildwood Park

IMG_8973My friend Arpy and I went for a hike at Wildwood Park to check out Lizard Rock, Paradise Falls, the teepee, and Indian Cave. The park is located in Thousand Oaks, CA and we had mapped out a route to make it about a 4-5 mile hike or so we thought. According to some websites the route to Paradise Falls is 2.5 miles, adding on about 1 mile to make the additional trek to Lizard Rock. However, there are so many paths once you are inside the park and head out to Lizard Rock that it starts to get confusing even with a map. Some trails are not on the map while other trails seem to be missing from the land. Our hike ended up being about 8 miles after we were all finished exploring, getting lost, and seeing the different attractions we planned on seeing.

In general, the hike was supposed to be pretty easy. We started out on the main trail, Mesa Trail, and headed toward Lizard Rock. The trail was wide, smooth, had a gradual incline and descend to start and looked promising. You could see the mountains in the distance as we walked through fields of high, dried, golden grass. We passed many cacti and easily followed the signs marked along the pathway.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

As we approached Lizard Rock the trail signs became few and far between, but we were able to easily navigate the map and figure out the correct way to go. The route gradually got harder with a steep incline. At the end of our climb we finally spotted Lizard Rock. We took some time exploring the area, climbed up onto the top of the rock, and took pictures. We were excited we made it and it didn’t seem that far from where we started, maybe a little over a mile or so.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

Things were going well, so we headed down the zigzag switchbacks, down the steep mountain on our way to our next stop, Paradise Falls. We followed the only trail available which on the map had us believe that it would only take about a mile to reach the waterfall. This route seemed to take forever though. We didn’t see any paths to take along the way and it took us far out of the way, pass a lake that wasn’t even on the map. When we finally passed the water treatment facility on our right I knew we were back on track. At least we were finally in an area where we would hopefully be able to find ourselves on the map.

The path became very narrow with plant growth on both sides and we started to follow a river. We hoped this would lead us to the waterfalls. We crossed the river at this really cool double tree in the middle of it and came to a picnic area. We finally passed a side trail noted on the map and stayed to the trail we thought would be the most direct route. This turned out to be a dead end so we double backed and tried the other trail.

Up and down multiple staircases and down trails with beautiful views and overgrowth of plants we hoped we were heading in the right directions. We finally came to another river crossing and a campground on the other side. We crossed and were at we thought was Skunk’s Hollow. A sign in the area read “Hoegeman’s Hollow.” We found a bathrooms, water fountains, and a really cool fire pit. I scouted the area for a bit to see which way we should go and luckily was able to find another sign nearby that pointed the way to Oak Grove which meant we were headed in the right direction to Paradise Falls.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

Just a little father and we finally arrived at the 40 ft waterfall, Paradise Falls. We were so happy to finally have finally reached it. We climbed down the stairs and reached the Arroyo Conejo and Paradise Falls’ pool. No one else was there except a couple people that looked like they were having a photoshoot. I found a dry path to cross the creek and climbed the rocks on the opposite side to get a better view. It was absolutely beautiful with it’s strong flowing water, green algae and yellow stained rocks contrasting against the dark water, green plant life, and brown rocks.

The temperature down by the base of the falls was much cooler than above. If there weren’t signs posted about not swimming due to water quality I would have taken a dip in the pool and swam right under the falls. We hung out for a bit taking it in and resting up for the rest of our hike back.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

IMG_8971      IMG_8971

Eventually we decided to leave. On the way back we stopped by the teepee. I’m not really sure exactly what the big attraction is, but it’s a man made wooden teepee with a fire pit in the middle of it. It took us all of a minute to look at it and then we moved on. Our last stop was at the Indian Cave, which was very interesting. We climbed up inside and through it and it put us out on a few smaller trails that overlooked another field. The view was nice, but the most fun part was crawling through the cave to get there. The rocks were rounded and it looked like there was even a little spot that used to be used for fires and cooking or such.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

We headed back to the car, once again picking the not most direct route, but it was a nice walk along another creek and brought us to another smaller waterfall. When we finally reached the road we were grateful to see the parking lot and some civilization. I couldn’t convince Arpy to walk through the field instead of along the road though. She was done.

What a fun hike. So much to see, so many different trails to try. As long as you stay inside the main park you shouldn’t have too hard of a time figuring it out. The signs are pretty clear to Lizard Rock, Paradise Falls, the teepee, and Indian Cave. It’s the trek from Lizard Rock to Paradise Falls that is iffy and hard to figure out. Definitely check it out next time you’re in the area though.

Climbing Cliffs at Hemingway Buttress

IMG_8973As I was driving through Joshua Tree National Park I noticed a pullout from the main east-west road for a trail that was not on the map. The main map that you get at the Visitor Center actually is missing  a lot of the attractions in the park and I don’t think this is a main draw so I was not surprised, but since it was early in the morning I pulled over to see what I was missing.

The trail seemed short without much explanation or direction except that it was leading to a place called Hemingway Buttress and Banana Cracks that many rock climbers ascend each day. There were a few other people there already getting a closer look at the nature sculpted “classic lines.” Two of those people just happened to be rock climbers complete with backpacks full of gear and helmets and were heading down the path.

Eager to see them climb these giant monzogranite rock piles formed 85 million years ago from magma crystalizing 15 miles below the earth’s surface, then becoming stressed and cracked by earthquakes, being pushed up to the surface by movement where groundwater seeped into the cracks rounding and sculpting and weather continues to erode, I scurried after them keeping my distance as not to be noticed.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

Reaching the base of the cliff and a pile of boulders I stopped and picked a smaller boulder to sit on. I patiently waited for the climbers to scamper up the boulders to their final starting destination. They looked like they were talking everything through, equipment, routes, etc. They kept pointing at the rock and nodding. Eventually I got tired of waiting and decided to explore and come back. The wall was huge, at least 20 people tall. There was no way that I would miss them.

I walked down the path one way to basically a dead end. I turned and followed the wall the other way and eventually reached the Hemingway Boulders, or what I thought was them. To be honest it all looked the same to me. I didn’t see a big difference from where I left the climbers to where I decided to stop walking.

I turned back and reach where I had separated from the climbers. They were still in the same spot at the base of the cliffs talking. I realized that I would be waiting all day for them to finally make a move up the wall and headed back to the car stopping and looking back along the way. Maybe next time I’m in Joshua Tree National Park my timing will work out a little better and I’ll be able to see some climbers that are a little more advanced and prepared. Until then, at least now I know that Joshua Tree is a meca for rock climbers with some 5,000 routes described within the park and many more being pioneered every year.

A Walk on A Mexican Beach

IMG_8973I went for a walk on the beach while I was in Mexico to check out the area and see what was around. It was quite an eyeopening experience to see how differently people lived there.

I started by heading toward the point break that the guys had been so keen on surfing. Along the sandy shore was an amazing dirt cliff and just outside our gated community, up on those cliffs, were houses. Many were old and coming apart, literally falling into the sea as the cliff wore away underneath them. I could only hope that no one lived in them anymore as they did not seem very safe, but I couldn’t be completely certain.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

The cliff turned into a man made wall to stop the ocean from wearing away the dirt and as I continued along the sandy beach the soft sand it turned into a field of smooth rocks. They were like land mines and I had to carefully watch my steps as I continued to trek because sometimes they would shift and slide under my feet. My pace quickly slowed. Eventually the rocks turned into big coarse volcanic stone, which when wet was even more slippery. I climbed over them noticing that the beautiful ocean shore line had completely changed and the houses on the cliffs were more recently built and maintained. Eventually I reached a point where I could no longer walk without climbing down a cliff and walking through water. I decided then to turn back.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

I headed back to our gated community and reached our stairwell. I thought about walking up and decided to continue to the cliff on the other side instead. I had noticed a “Surf” graffiti wall in my surf session earlier in the day and wanted a picture of it. I walked along the shore in the soft flat sand. By the edge of the cliff were rocks that had been rubbed smooth by the tides of the ocean. I reached the sign and continue until the rocks became jagged and sharp again. This time however there was no volcanic rocks beneath. All the rocks had previously been part of the cliff. I noticed a way to climb up the cliff and reach the top, but decided against trying it. It looked very steep and there was a rope to help you reach the top. I paused for a moment and watched a man and his son climb to the top. I continued until I could go no further. It really was a beautiful beach, full of many different sights to see and places to explore.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971