There are two trails to choose from. There is the TRW trail and the Rising Sun trail. From what I read online the TRW trail is just a paved road. The Rising Sun trail was much more difficult. Unfortunately for me, the website didn't give a rating to the difficulty of the trail. In the reviews on Yelp, the people all had different opinions on how difficult the Rising Sun trail was. One person gave it a 4 of 10. Another 7 of 10. Some people sweat a little bit and others were winded instantly. There were many opinions on how this second trail was, but there was not a standard fitness level for everyone. I decided since I had the day to myself I'd kick it up a notch and travel the Rising Sun. Both trails lead to the same area so I wasn't going to miss out on anything by taking one over the other. The most common suggestion was to take the easy route to the waterfall and then the hard one back. The reason for this is because you'd be going westward towards the end of the day and the setting sun over the Pacific is a site to see between the mountains. I figured that I'll get there in the morning so the easier one would be better for the trip back. I wouldn't really be missing anything.
I parked all the way at the bottom parking lot for fun's sake then headed up the .2 mile long road to the main parking lot. Filled my water bottle and read the warnings/educational material then took off. I should have taken into consideration the state of my legs before embarking on the treacherous journey up the canyon. The first hill had my already tired legs burning. I walked maybe 300 yards uphill before I had to stop. I was surprised that I had to break so soon. Even with the look down method I couldn't pace myself higher up this first part of the hill. It took almost a half hour and several breaks before I got to the final incline. At this point I am sweating buckets and panting like a hot dog. I wore my Flash black tee and khakis since I read that some of the trail was overgrown. The last thing I needed on my first hike solo was to go home with ticks and lyme disease. Not really knowing what to expect I climbed the last little incline and I saw... More inclines. The curves were very deceiving on this path so what I thought was the finish was really just the end of the first leg. To my benefit, the inclines were all small in grade and length. Another problem was rising to my attention. The Sun. And I'm not talking about the Rising Sun trail. SoCal weather is constantly throwing curve balls. The day started out like it was going to be a cool, overcast day. As the Sun rose higher in the sky, the clouds burned away leaving the gaping blue atmosphere naked except for the burning orb at center stage. The heat brought out the creepy crawlies. On two occasions I saw little brown lizards scurry across the paths trying to get somewhere with a little more shade. Luckily I had the mind to prepare for this situation by layering up. I decided to strip a little bit to try and escape the smothering heat my clothes were making. I let a group of Asian people pass me and after they turned the corner, I took a turn...
I did learn a valuable lesson from the stairs that day. My shoes are inadequate for hiking. The steps were part cement and part dirt and rocks. On top of that there were many more rocks that were loose and scattered around the terrain. Every five steps or so my foot would find one of those rocks and my shoes would do nothing to protect me. By the time I hit the bottom of the canyon, I was walking with a slight limp because my left foot was so tender. So before I go out hiking again I must get the proper shoes to protect myself.
The allure of Solstice canyon is that there are "ruins" of an old mansion that burned down. I put ruins in quotation marks for this reason: The house was built in the early 1900's but burned down in the 80's. Ruins, in the sense that I picture them, would need to be a little older and run down to earn that proper title. Along with the ruins there is also a waterfall and supposedly another trail that leads further back. I walked around the remains on the house, looking at all the different artifacts left behind. I sat down in the shade and relaxed for a few minutes. It was close to 1 when I decided to have lunch. So I climbed up a few levels of rocks and sat at a different waterfall. The higher up you climb, the more pronounced the waterfall is. I'm no spring chicken and I don't have any degrees of climbing ability so I made it to the second level and called it quits.
Along the way I saw another "ruin". It was too far away to investigate and the path leading to it was closed off. There was also a bathtub partially filled with dirt hanging around the entrance of the easy trail. At the visitor's center there was lovely music wafting it's way to my ears. I peeked around the corner and there was an older gentleman playing the violin (Maybe it was a fiddle? I'm not too sure.) and a lady strumming the guitar. They were singing folk songs about pirates and shooting tin cans to the villagers delight while the remaining few elderly patrons danced and smiled. It was quite the enchanting moment. After a minute or so of listening I moved on. I filled my water bottle and then I stumbled upon a hidden area. The Dry Canyon Trail.
At this point my feet were aching and my back was sore, but I was enamored by the prospect of another trail. The entire thing was only 1.2 miles long. I decided to give it a go because YOLO! (YOLO is a popular acronym being thrown around by everyone right now. It means You Only Live Once. I promise I will never use that term again.) This was the type of trail that I needed pants for. It was very overgrown. The entrance was blocked by cars when I came up the hill almost three hours earlier. The lot was dedicated to horse trailers only but nobody seem to take notice of that sign. The only sounds were of the foliage and sticks that cracked and rustled under my feet. Every so often I would stop to make sure that the only footsteps were my own. The trail was difficult to follow and had many low hanging trees. I was bobbing and weaving my way through. When I stopped, I saw on the ground the jaw bone of some sort of animal. It wasn't a small animal's either. The signs at the visitor's station warned about rattlesnakes in the area. I started thinking about how much I knew about this trail. I tried using my phone's internet to research Dry Canyon to make sure it wasn't too hazardous but I wasn't getting signal in the middle of the grove. A rabbit hopped around to my right (which spooked me) and I decided that maybe I would call it a day. The next time I come I'll be more prepared for this leg of the journey and I'll push to make it a solid part of the plans. I headed back to the car at the bottom of the hill. At that point I was bombarded by many text messages as my phone returned to the life it normally leads... Okay... There were only three texts...
My hiking didn't end there though. I met up with my friends Chaise and Giselle and we headed downtown to the observatory to catch the Mars landing. Due to technical difficulties with the GPS, we ended up getting there late. The observatory is on top of an enormous hill. We walked about .25-.50 miles uphill at a brisk pace to get into the observatory before the landing. Alas it was all for nothing as we got there a few minutes after it happened... Nonetheless I benefited from the rush. I ended up falling asleep in the back seat on the way home from the day's activities!
It was nice hiking on Sunday. Being alone with my thought helped refresh my mind. I felt like I could really tap into some of my writing skills that I've been stashing away in the back of my brain. This definitely will happen more often! In the meantime I've added the photos I took on the hike and the night following it below! I hope you enjoy! :-D