Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking Back on 2011 and Forward to 2012

2011 was one of the toughest yet most eventful years in my memory to go through. We experienced the birth of our daughter as well as the growing pains from the accompanying parenthood. We also went through some tough moments as well; beginning with the passing of my grandmother, a family friend who died in his 30s from cancer, and a couple of colleagues at work. So given these life-changing circumstances, our waterfalling has suffered a bit, but we're still determined to make 2012 a bounce-back year...

Our waterfalling didn't begin this year until late March. That was when we finally decided to take our baby daughter waterfalling for the first time to Solstice Canyon Falls. We experienced firsthand just how difficult it was to bring an infant to an outing like this as what would normally be a fairly comfortable half-day jaunt to Malibu turned into a full-day outing. When you have to juggle nap schedules, feeding schedules, pumping schedules, diaper changes, and all while fitting in a waterfall stroll, it becomes apparent why not many new parents go through with an outdoor excursion like this. Nonetheless, we did visit the waterfall, but unfortunately, Tahia wasn't awake when we made it.

But the struggles of that first excursion of the year didn't stop us as we went to five more outings throughout April and May -- some with Tahia and some without (thank goodness for our parents to salvage our sanity!).

The first of these excursions was to Tahquitz Falls in Palm Springs, which Julie and I went alone. It was the first time we visited this desert waterfall and the wet Winter made this one gush with vigor. Given our struggles with raising a baby daughter, we had almost forgotten what it was like when it was just Julie and I. It was just the Nature break that we needed!

The following week, we tried to capitalize on our desert waterfalling with a trip to Idyllwild. Unfortunately, our timing was bad as access to Dark Canyon Falls was closed. We then tried to visit Fuller Mill Creek Falls, but it ended up being a failure because we had turned around prematurely thinking some 10ft cascade was it. So this trip ended up being a failure, but at least Mom and Tahia got to spend time with us on an otherwise gorgeous day.

On Earth Day weekend, I was supposed to volunteer for some trail restoration with Tree Peoples in the Angeles National Forest. Unfortunately, the Angeles Crest Highway was closed due to the Station Fire and the alternate route wasn't communicated. So I ended up backtracking towards Millard Falls where I took a different trail to see it from the top since the trail to its base was still closed.

In early May, Julie and I left the daughter at home so we could visit another waterfall we hadn't seen before. This one was Bonita Falls. It was a pretty waterfall, but the spray paint assault (i.e. graffiti) on the entire wash and canyon was a bit disheartening to see.

Next, we made a return visit to Monrovia Canyon Falls. This one wasn't suitable for a stroller so we carried Tahia to the waterfall. Even though this wasn't our daughter's first waterfall, it was the first one that she got to see! But our visit was cut short as she started to get fussy as we had deviated from her nap routine to even make it out here.

In early June, Julie, Tahia, Julie's Mom, and I went to Yosemite. It was the first time in over five years that we had been at the park, and we figured this would be a great time to perhaps subconsciously open Tahia's mind to images from within one of the most special places on the planet. Even though we knew it was a heavy snowpack year, apparently we showed up a week or two too early as the weather was unseasonably cool and rainy. So we didn't get to see the park's most famous waterfalls in abnormally swollen states.

Nonetheless, we did get to revisit Yosemite Falls, Illilouette Fall, Vernal and Nevada Falls, Bridalveil Fall, Cascade Falls, a wispy Tueeulala Falls, and Wapama Falls (not quite in a flooded state like when we first saw it back in May/June 2002). Plus, we saw many of the smaller ones as well such as Ribbon Falls, Staircase Falls, Royal Arch Cascades, Silver Strand Falls, Widow's Tears, and Sentinel Falls plus some ephemeral waterfalls we hadn't seen before. Moreover, the trip went surprisingly smooth -- maybe Tahia was getting into this stuff after all...

In mid-August, I went on a backpacking trip in the Eastern Sierras for the first time in two years. The waterfall highlight of this trip was Moonlight Falls, but the high altitude and the climbing with heavy packs made this trip more strenuous than expected. We also saw a multitude of glacial lakes such as Hungry Packer Lake.

The lone big trip of this year was to the Pacific Northwest in late September. We spent a week in Washington visiting the Olympic Peninsula (sort of Julie's ad hoc Twilight Tour) as well as Mt Rainier, a return trip to Snoqualmie Falls, and the usual Seattle haunts. Then we spent another week on an Alaskan Cruise.

After a brief period of foul weather in the Olympics, we were blessed with wonderful weather throughout our stay in Washington. Thanks to their very late Summer, the waterfalls were flowing strong. Some of the waterfall highlights included Sol Duc Falls, Spray Falls, Comet Falls, Narada Falls, and Myrtle Falls among others.

Our Alaskan Cruise only afforded us a visit to Nugget Falls (aka the Mendenhall Waterfall) plus some incidental waterfalls within Glacier Bay, where we were very lucky to have had good weather.

Even though it wasn't an easy trip by any stretch of the imagination, Julie and I were learning more about what we could and couldn't get away with when traveling with an infant.

In November, we were supposed to go to Napa Valley and visit a pair of waterfalls (including Feather Falls). It was meant to be a brief trip in commemoration of our wedding anniversary, which just happened to be on 11/11/11. Unfortunately, our daughter had an ear infection, and we couldn't leave her with our parents when she was running high fevers from a strain that was apparently resistant to antibiotics. Needless to say, that trip was canceled.

After a difficult time between late November and early December dealing with grandma's deteriorating health and then passing, Julie and I are finally taking a much needed trip to Jamaica. As I write this post, we have yet to embark on the trip, but barring any unforeseen circumstances, we should be able to go jamming before the year is done.

We look forward to a new year and new adventures -- both from parenting and from waterfalling...

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