Hello, L.A. folks.
I am hiking to Penultimate Falls in Eaton Canyon tomorrow afternoon. This waterfall is penultimate if you start counting fall from the top of the canyon, so it is the second fall from the bottom if you count going up the canyon, starting at Eaton Canyon Falls. Thus, most serious hikers/rappellers, who start at the top of the canyon and come down, call it penultimate, but most people who know of it, and get to it from the bottom, simply call it "the second waterfall."
The fall is about 50 feet, straight down into a deep, cool pool that is perhaps 8 - 10 feet at its deepest point. One can fairly easily climb to the top of the fall and take the plunge into the pool below. Sure, it feels like you are jumping to your death into a black abyss, but it always works out just fine in the end. I never even touch bottom when I hit. The worst I have ever got was some water up my nose and ears.
The hike features a pretty extreme sheer cliff climb over a rocky ridge and then back down the other side in order to get above the lower falls. I am used to it, but it is not for the faint of heart of for those who are flimsy footed or lack the upper body strength to hoist themselves and hold on for dear life at points. I do this hike without equipment, and so do a surprising number of people daily.
Once you surpass this major obstacle, you are rewarded with a beautiful, lush, shaded hike over rocks and through shallow pools through a narrow canyon with a light water flow at this time. Entirely submerging your shoes, socks, and possibly your shorts, depending on your height, is a necessity. The final reward is when you arrive at the pool and jump in for a swim.
Unfortunately, the trail, and especially the swimming hole area, is littered with trash and graffiti, since nobody ever really makes it up there to clean up after the offenders. However, it is still beautiful, and entirely worthwhile IMHO. I plan on bringing some Hefty bags Sunday to clean up after the punks a bit.
You will be utterly surprised by how many people make the trek on any given day. I have never been entirely alone up there for more than 15 or 20 minutes. Most of these people have no special equipment. Many make the climb/hike in shoes I would consider scary (such as Converse High Tops). I usually wear running shoes and shorts, myself.
I usually bring my Nikonos, as it is built like a brick outhouse. It can take anything. I have never done this with a tripod, though I am confident that I could, having taken the trail so many times.
There is more to see upstream, though I have never ventured very far that way, due to lack of time. However, I would be very interested in heading back there with a nicer camera and a tripod some time.
If anyone ever wishes to join me, tomorrow, or any other time, please do so! Tomorrow, I plan to leave from the Mt. Wilson Toll Road entrance at about 1:30 - 2 p.m., and begin returning at about 7 p.m.
In the future, I plan to go farther upstream, and camp overnight. If this sounds interesting some time this summer, let me know.