Friday, February 8, 2013

01-16-2013 Classic Canyon and Fall Creek

 Fall Creek right above the shadow.

This day of canyoneering started out good, became terrible for a little bit, then got back to being really fun; I’ll explain. I met up with some canyoneers near the junction of the Angeles Crest Highway and Big Tujunga Rd. The main canyon we wanted to go down was Fall Creek.  Instead of taking the fire road described in Brennen's guide, we agreed that taking Classic Canyon down to Big Tujunga Creek would be more fun.

As a second bonus we decided to take a little known canyon dubbed Camp Five down to Classic Canyon. Camp Five is really just the upper part of Classic Canyon. The drop-in point is just a few steps away from Big Tujunga Rd. We reached the only rappel in Camp Five after about half an hour of hiking. It was a pleasant 60ft drop through a lightly flowing waterfall. Looking up the waterfall from below I thought to myself, “This is a lovely way to start the day.”

Not too many people travel this canyon. This anchor station was pretty overgrown.

That's me coming down the only rappel in Camp Five. Photo courtesy and copyright Mark C.

The fun didn’t last for long. Immediately after the waterfall the canyon got choked up with brush. Since I wasn’t carrying a rope I thought I might as well take the lead and try to break the brush for everyone else. That was a mistake on my part. The following hour was spent fighting (kicking!) thorny vines, ducking fallen branches, and trying not to break an ankle in hidden holes. Somewhere along the way I looked down and saw an old can half-buried in the ground. I picked it up and examined it. It was an Aspen Soda can. Pepsi stopped making that stuff back in 1982. So that can had been sitting in the canyon for the last 30 years. I stuffed it in my bag to take it back my collection of old cans I’ve found on my hikes through the years.

Looking back at Camp Five Canyon. I shan't be going there again.

Camp Five ends where the watercourse intersects with the fire road. We walked down the road a few hundred yards until we found a nice spot to drop into Classic Canyon. Classic gets some traffic, so the going wasn’t nearly as difficult as Camp Five. In fact, it was back to being a nice hike again. There was a nice cold, little trickle of water in the canyon now. The second rappel in Classic terminates in a small pool with thigh deep water (I’m 6’3”). It was a nice warm day so the water was refreshing to me. However, had we started with Classic first thing in the morning it might have been a bit cold for just regular hiking clothes. I was wearing 3mm booties and canyoneering boots to keep my feet warm. The last waterfall in Classic was a beautiful 160 footer.

It was a short walk to Big Tujunga Creek from the last waterfall in Classic. We stopped and ate some lunch. Then we hiked up creek until we crossed the fire road again. From there we took the fire road up to a deep bend towards the back of Fall Creek and dropped into the canyon.

Trekking up Big Tujunga Creek. Photo courtesy and copyright Mark C.

Just a single bolt here.

Fall Creek is a nice wet canyon.  On a colder day I would say a wetsuit might be in order, but this day was sunny and warm, so neoprene for my feet was all that was necessary. I really enjoy rappelling through water. The exhilaration from the water splashing me in the face combined with dangling from a single line in the middle of a remote and beautiful canyon washes away the stresses of urban life. On the taller waterfalls I like to stop mid-rappel for a few seconds and try to soak in the moment.

Dropping into the second and third waterfalls. Photo courtesy and copyright Mark.

The first rap in Fall Creek is off a single bolt. When we got to it we found a pathetic little piece of cord set up in an attempt to back up the bolt to a bush. The bolt looked solid enough for a 25ft rap, so we didn’t bother with trying to back it up.

The last waterfall of Fall Creek

Fall Creek is a pretty quick canyon. There are four rappels stacked up fairly close to each other. Bolts have placed on the third waterfall since Brennan last updated.  A capable group like ours can make it through in just a couple of hours. After finishing Fall Creek there was really only one thing left to do, hike back up to the cars. This is a long, not fun, slog of a hike. But we eventually made it back to where we had started. I really liked this group; everybody had a good attitude, and was fun to hang out with. I’d really like to hit up some more canyons with these folks again if I can.