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Arroyo Seco 3: 29th to 31st July 2005

Our yearly trip to Arroyo Seco would included a few newcomers, namely my mother, Scott (a Chez Panisse cook), and Eve (his girlfriend).  Emily and I met Scott at his house in Oakland and then we piled into his car and drove to Lafayette to pick up Eve.  From there we zoomed down 680 to 101, experiencing only bad traffic as we merged from one freeway to the other.  At the Arroyo Seco Gorge parking lot we met my parents and their dog Scoobie and everyone piled into the Ford Explorer.  Emily drove with Eve beside her, my parents were in the back seat with the dog, and Scott and I laid down amongst the gear in the very back.  Eventually we made it to the Escondido Campground, our only mishap being unable to locate the turn onto Indians Road once inside the military base.  It was quite late by the time we were all settled down to sleep.

The next morning, at 7 am I believe, we bid Pa and Scoob farewell and the rest of us headed down to the river.  Em's allergies were the worst I'd ever seen then, it wasn't yet sunny, and black flies were everywhere.  I promised everyone that it wouldn't go on like this for long but I'm not sure that they believed me.  Indeed, for the first 3 hours we slogged along through shallow pools while being pestered by flies and shielded from the sun by the trees.

But eventually it opened up, just as I promised, and we found a nice spot for lunch with ample sun and a deep pool.  With bellies full and feet rested the next question became how much further to camp.  My only answer to this was that on my previous trip it had taken 9.5 hours but I hoped it would take less this time.  Well, it didn't.  We pulled into camp around 5:30 pm or 10.5 hours after leaving Escondido.  I don't suppose that it took any longer than my first trip since we had a very long lunch break this time.

Two pots of chili-mac were made and consumed, Scotty then cooked his fish over an open fire, and then we frolicked about, happy to be in the middle of nowhere.

The next day we stayed around till about 11 am and then went down the waterfall where we had lunch and Scotty performed the leap of death.  From the waterfall the hike to the suspension bridge was relatively short and easy and soon we found ourselves walking the 3 miles along Indians Road back to Scotty's car.  After paying for showers at the Arroyo Seco Campground we hit the road, stopping at a great little taqueria (Pacheco grocery) in Soledad for an early dinner.  Next we deposited Ma with Pa who was waiting at the intersection of 101 and 156.  Actually, we ended up waiting about 15 minutes for him since he got stuck in traffic.  From that point we didn't stop until we were back home in the Bay Area.

Early on in the trip Scott amazed us with his ability to hop among the rocks while catching fish and even a turtle.

 

One of the highlights on hiking from the Escondido Campground is that you get to see this amazing little waterfall and associated pool that flow into the Arroyo Seco.  It was still pretty early when we reached it and not yet in the sun so I converted the photo to black and white.  I also remember that the water was much colder than that in the Arroyo Seco.  If you aren't looking for it you might miss it so keep your eyes peeled to the right (when looking downstream) when you are about 90 minutes from the campground.  From the left we have Ma, Em, Scott and Eve.

 

Catching fish and turtles wasn't enough for Scott so at lunch he caught us crawdads.

 

After lunch on the first day we spent a good bit of time floating/swimming through sun drenched pools.

 

But lest you think it was all a cakewalk, at times we scrambled through brush along the shore to avoid walking on large slippery rocks in ankle deep water.

 

And sometimes we were able to walk on dry solid rock directly adjacent to the river.  This was the case less than 1% of the time.

 

Grilled trout was a real treat, thanks Scott.

 

Day 2 and a shot looking downstream from our campsite.  Emily and Ma are in the foreground and Scott and Eve are in the background.  If you look up near the top of the hills you can just make out the line indicating the cut for Indians Road.  The lower Yin Yang pool is to the right, not visible in this picture.

 

To complement the previous picture we now present a photo looking upstream at the lower Yin Yang pool.  If you didn't notice, Scotty is in the upper left hand corner.  Sorry about my shaky hands.

 

Here is a shot of Eve and Casey in the upper pool of the waterfall.  To the left, out of the picture, the river is calm and serene.  The people to the right have just climbed the ropes adjacent to the main falls that is to their left and not visible in the picture.  Without the multiple ropes it would be very hard to navigate the falls.

 

Scott took a picture of us sitting on a rock at the base of the waterfall in the narrows, chucked the camera down to me, and then...

 

...he jumped!  Goddamn! I don't know where to begin with this picture.  This is a very dangerous leap.  I did the same Yin Yang jump that you can see Scott doing a few pictures back without hesitation but didn't even consider this one.  The water is plenty deep but you've got to miss some rocks.  He spent some time building up his courage for this, during which time my Mom and Em were encouraging him to not jump while I clung to a nook in the rock in order to get a steady shot.

 

All good things must come to an end.  Some of the more notable items in this picture are as follows: my mom is over 5 dozen eggs old and completed the trip in slow but steady fashion, Eve and Scott spent most of their time in cotton clothes with no ill effects, after lunch on the first day Scott started carrying the Yucca stalk on his back and was still faster than all of us (he plans to make a didgeridoo), Scott and Eve completed the trek in shoes without socks and did not suffer any foot maladies, and finally Scotty's shoes looked like that BEFORE the trip started!

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