slip sliding away

Eaton Canyon, in the front range of the San Gabriel mountains, is a natural water park when it is flowing, and the flow is perfect right now. Hot on the heels of a couple of weekends of good hikes we felt we were ready to head up to do this one without killing ourselves. Eaton canyon, at 8 miles and 2130 ft of elevation gain reads as a medium hard day on paper, but much of that distance is spent boulder hopping on slippery rock and wading through water with heavy packs and wetsuits on. This can add up to an exhausting day, which we knew from past forays into the depths of it. We were also worried that the coolish temperatures might lead to a bit of hypothermia. On the day however, the weather was perfect. For the hike up the Mt Wilson toll road, it was cloudy and cool, which allowed us to do all the elevation gain in excellent time. It was still cloudy as we dropped into the canyon down the almost vertical scree slope, but as we changed into our wetsuits the clouds parted and a beautifully clear sunny day ensued. We finished suiting up and headed down stream. Only a few hundred feet down the canyon the fun began. With the water running strong we were able to slide down many drops. There was a lot of new sediment deposited from the areas of the mountains denuded by fire last year, so many drops which would have been jumps in prior years were a little dicey. So we slid down them. I was finally able to get good use out of the waterproof housing I had acquired for my Nikon D3. This was the perfect canyon to give it a workout in since it was this canyon which had killed my D2x when the dry bags leaked, convincing me that I needed a housing for my remaining camera. It worked like a charm, and the camera was the driest thing we had by the end of the day. The helmet cam was also whirring away, capturing the fun in a way the still camera just can’t. Anyhow we hopped and slid and swam and rappeled and laughed our way down the canyon. The scenery changes around every corner of this gem of a canyon. There are deep granite falls and still forest pools, chuckling cascades and roaring rapids. We ducked under huge trees fallen across the stream and tripped along over smooth cobbles.  We even took time to sit and savour the ambience of a very private place so close to Los Angeles. Finally we reached the last 60 ft drop, a roaring cascade down a very slippery vertical face. Its impossible to avoid the flow on this one so we didn’t even try. We rappeled down to thunderous applause from the 20 or so people who were sitting at the base of the falls. We were pretty wiped out by the time we finally reached the car, but it was so worth it.

Anyhow, for once I have finished the video in time for the posting of the gallery so please take a look at it when you check out the pictures, and enjoy!

The music is from Beethoven’s fifth symphony

the garden of Eaton

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