Boulder Scrambling Indian Summer Adventure

     Yesterday my feet dangled over the edge of a sheer cliff drop off. I held onto a rope I found wedged between two boulders, and then using all those fine tuned P90X muscles, I pulled my legs up over the edge of the giant boulder, praying the frayed rope wouldn’t give out, dropping me into the deep pool of water twenty feet below me. It was exhilarating. My heart was pounding in my chest and it wasn’t from the coffee for once. My legs were shaking as I pulled myself up the enormous grey boulder, and I thought to myself
    “Shit, how am I going to get back out of here…Do I have to do that again!?”
     I woke up that extremely hot fall morning coughing, with a sore throat; damn my allergies. I was not feeling one hundred percent. So, of course, my Pal Jason and I, decided to go on a five mile hike. I mean, come on. Its 74 degrees on an indian summer-ish late September day. It should be getting into the twenties in our local mountains here at night. I have a itch every night to build a cozy wood fire in my cabin’s fireplace (And then fall asleep before nine P.M.) but its still to hot at night for that. I’m still sleeping with a fan on and tomorrow its suppose to be 86 degrees up here! That means that even though my work has started setting out the pumpkin patch and a fine selection of acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash (Note to self- make spaghetti squash with goat cheese butter, see my Goatcheesegoatcheesegoatcheese blog for that recipe) it  still feeling like summer time in these pine tree covered mountains.

The view to the creek down below taken from the hike up the Pacific Crest Trail

     I had been saying for two weeks now, yea its fall. Now that its finally cooler lets go hiking! Yes, goodbye to days spent floating in my raft at Big Bear Lake, watching bald eagle’s soar above me (Yes that is correct, I saw three bald eagles at Big Bear this season. Kind of weird since they migrate away from their home at Butler’s Peak after nesting season in the spring) or hot July days enjoying some Creek-orita’s while floating in an inner tube down nearby Deep Creek. I’ll miss the summer time camping and that amazing wood burning smell, star gazing at Keller’s Peak, but I have to say Huzzah! Its finally going to be cool enough that I can get out there and start hiking the mountain trails again!
      Well, I have been celebrating the beginning of fall, dreams of Ugg boots and Wellies and maybe, maybe some rainy cold days ahead; and apparently we are having a heat wave here in sunny So Cal. Its late September and tomorrow is going to be one of the hottest days of the year up here. So while I had the best intentions to do a killer ten mile hike yesterday, it turned into, maybe a four mile hike, with perhaps a mile of boulder climbing after that.
     Jason and I parked my Subaru Tar at the locked Splinter’s Cabin gate and started up the road to the trail head. The gate was locked as part of the road had washed out again at the creek crossing. This seems to happen every year. This past year in December we had a Pineapple Express storm roar through Southern California dropping a ton of rain on the local mountains, so I could see how a roaring river of water could wash the newly built concrete away. The road is fine to pass on foot, but not even the most burly Jeep CJ could make it over the gouge in the hillside where the road used to be.
    We crossed the Deep Creek bridge where the road forks and heads to Red Neck Yacht Club, I mean, Aztec Falls, the popular swimming hole and continued up the switch backs into the high desert  on the back side of the mountain. There are very few trees back here and very, very little shade. Luckily for us, we  saw no rattle snakes today, which made me happy. On a hot day, you just never know when you may find one taking a nap on the trail. We hiked up the Pacific Crest Trail farther then I have ever gone before, but it was getting just to damn hot, so after a few miles we turned around and made our way back towards the cool waters of Deep Creek below.

Peace Pool, first view of the pools

      Once we made our way back to the bridge, it was some easy rock scrambling over boulders. It was weird, we hadn’t seen any people in all of this. The mountains were so quiet and peaceful on this early Saturday Morning. By the time we made it to the creek, it was almost noon also, I would expect the creek area to be swarmed with people on a hot day!
     The pool’s we were looking for were new to me. I usually hit a few pools upstream, but  a friend of mine, Lesandra, had been telling me about some pools that she usually went to called Peace Pools. We had been meaning to go the week before together, but had to cancel the plans. So Jason and I decided to just follow the water down stream and try to find the Peace Pools. 

We were making our way over the boulders and through thick swarms of flies and bugs when we came to an opening and saw these amazing pools and rock formations in front of us. Some of the tallest boulders had to be about forty feet high. It was such an awesome sight and I was truly amazed I had never found these pools before.  As we made our way down stream, I quickly realized one thing, it was going to be really hard to get to the beaches we saw below us, and across the water.
I began climbing up the tallest boulder, what I took to be the easy way. Until I got to the top and realized there was no way to get across. Yet the beach beckoned me below and I knew I knew I had to find a way over there.
There was a old frayed piece of rope stuck between two boulders, and I realized this must be how you got across. I tugged that rope so hard, trying to gage if it would hold the weight of my body, or if I would go crashing onto the boulders and into the chilly water twenty feet below me.  My heart was pounding so fierce in my chest as I realized i had to swing my legs up and over the rocks across from me, balancing my weight and merely holding onto the rope, and praying it wouldn’t snap. Before I could change my mind (Okay, it actually took me five minutes to get the balls to go through with it) I swung my legs up and over and slid my upper body across the smooth hot rocks. The rope held. I was up.

If the rope had snapped, this would have been where I would have fallen, its actually more deep then it looks.

      I was shaking so much, my heart pounding in my chest with adrenaline, I almost slipped down one of the smooth rocks below me right after that. Next summer, I need to invest in better hiking boots. Jason wasn’t sure he could make it across the same way I had, so he decided to brave the chilly waters and swim across. That’s when we realized I had gone the hard way. The easy way was to swim across, even if the water was freezing. Good to know for the future. We will come back to this spot. It is beyond awesome, and easy to get to once you realize that swimming in is the safest option.

     That was the most dangerous, ballsy thing I have ever done in my life. I can’t believe I did that. In the pictures below you can see a close up of the boulder I had to pull myself over. I had to go across on that little tiny ledge. Its to small to stand on, so I held onto the rope wedged under the big rock on top, and pulled my entire body over. It was pretty wild.

This is the bottom of one of the rock formations, that reaches up about forty feet. This whole area was so beautiful, huge rock formations and sandy beaches. It looked like paradise.

    This is the beginning of the hike on Splinter’s Cabin Trail head, near the Pacific Crest Trail at one of the creek crossings. This area is so pretty year round. There are always a ton of wild flowers here.
     After our exhilarating time at the creek, we were planning to head down to Redlands and join some friends for Oktoberfest at Sylvan Park, but after all the excitement we decided to just go back to my cabin and BBQ instead. That was enough excitement for one day!
    Oh and today I woke up, even more congested, feeling like death and my shoulder is soar from over extending it. Maybe miles and miles of hiking is not the best thing for allergy season?