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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Millard Canyon -The Birds & Bees…& Amphibians

In anticipation of the arrival of the giant generous-spirited, diabetes promoting, long earedmammal, an appetite promoting ramble was called for this weekend.
So organic cherry tomatoes, Persian cucumbers along with packets of sarnies (sandwiches), were packed, reuseable water bottles filled  and we headed off for our first trip of the year up to Millard Canyon.
Located less than 15 minutes from Pasadena, hiking Millard  is a huge favorite with our family. The trail along the stream is both shady and fairly flat with the added bonus that itis teaming with amphibian life that seems largely unconcerned by the curious eyes and inquisitive fingers of our children.
There  are some more challenging hikes that can be reached from Sunset Ridge  going to the old mine entrance and the waterfalls. Unfortunately neither has been reachable from the lower hike since mudslides, which were the result of the horrendous 2009 fires.
A (not so) quick trip to Sport Chalet in La Canada for our annual ‘Adventure Pass” which is $30 for a year or $5 per day.
It’s well worth getting the annual as we will not only use it more than 6 times but it saves a huge amount of time and the risk of expensive shopping at one of the sports outlets that supplies them! Given that we take full advantage of so many of our amazing state parks, and the enormous cost of maintaining roads,  bathroom facilities, rescue and fire prevention/fighting it’s one of the few fees I encounter that I not only don’t mind but actually feel good about paying!
Take the Lincoln exit from the 210, follow Lincoln for 3 miles, right on Alta vista then left at the wall withthe wagon wheel!
Follow the road a couple of miles to the car park.
To the right of the car park is only a short trail to the camp site beyond which is fenced off due to rock fall.
To the left, we follow the stream we criss cross, hopping rock to rock through the  coolshady canyon.  A large number of trees have been felled since last summer, probably as a result of the high winds last autumn, revealing masses of knotty roots. A series of cabins nestle in the woods provoking envy that the fortunate inhabitants enjoy the shady solitude coupled with the soothing babble from the stream.
Not only is this not an arduous hike but before long an obliging colony of amphibian lifereveal themselves to the delight of the squealing children.
Red salamanders get into the procreational spirit of the season which provokes an unexpected request for an explanation of the “birds and the bees….with a twist!”
The conversation threatens to take on an added dimension when it becomes clear that these frisky amphibians have the stamina of Russell Brand. Fortunately I’m spared having to explain “when a daddy newt loves a mummy newt, oh and several of her friends” by the catching of a frog. It does make mewonder if perhaps Charlie Sheen has a little newt DNA!
Several frogs are caught and released, some no bigger than my thumb nail. These make odd croaks that sound much more like a ducks quack than the more common and much deeper “ribbit” of the bull frog.
One in particular,   takes such a shine to my son it willing rides parrot style on his arm!
2 hours later we are back on the road and home to await the impending delivery of blood sugar destabilizing confectionary, but I think we’ve earned it
Note, Rocky pathway wear shoes with a good grip. Poison Ivy alert
ADVENTURE PASS – What many people do not realize is that their recreation activities in the National Forests are highly subsidized by American taxpayers. The Recreation Fee Demonstration Program is testing the willingness of those individuals who derive direct benefit from the forest to invest in their chosen activity, rather than asking all taxpayers–even those who would never visit a National Forest–to pay more.
The Adventure Pass part of the fee program asks individuals to play a direct and supportive role in caring for the lands they use and enjoy; to make a small investment to help ensure a bright future for the National Forests of coastal and southern California
W Loma Alta Dr & Chaney Trl
Altadena, CA 91001
Neighborhood: Pasadena

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