We woke up at about 5:30 am. We silently got dressed, had some cereal and coffee, gathered our waters and cliff bars, got in the car, and headed east. I’m not a morning person, so we did this all using minimal words.
PJ and I had been hiking a lot the past few weekends, and this weekend we decided to try Three Sisters Falls. Why not? We’re in shape, we’re young and able, and we’re two motivated individuals.
*For those of you unfamiliar, Three Sisters is a hike near Julian, CA that leads to a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole. Alltrails.com, a site FOR experienced hikers, has dubbed it “hard,” which is not a common ranking.*
When we got there at 7:30ish there were already dozens of cars. Great. We thought it would still be desolate this early. Once we parked and got our stuff together, we began our hike. At first we couldn’t see the falls at all, and we began to think we were in the wrong place. However, once we got to the first turn, we could finally see them.
A tiny blue dot in the distance.
The first half mile or so of the hike was easy.
It was a little bit of downhill, but nothing crazy. I wasn’t sliding, my pants were still clean, and I was still wondering why the sign at the entrance strongly emphasized that it was not a federally maintained trail and that they did not recommend hiking it.
The second part was something else. It became dangerously steep, and there were even places that had ropes to climb down since it was pretty much a 90 degree slope over sand that just slipped beneath your feet. If it weren’t for PJ, I would have turned around and gone home.
I’m not a very adventurous person! Why did I think this was a good idea?!
He went down before me, so I had no choice but to catch up with him – I didn’t want him to drive all that way for me to just chicken out. After what seemed like centuries and at least 100 “I’m gonna die here”‘s we got to the bottom.
I didn’t even know at that point that we were only halfway.
We still had to climb up the rocks to the top of the waterfalls.
It took a few minutes, but PJ finally found us a trail leading up to the top of the waterfalls. It was pretty much climbing over large rocks the whole time, which I had done my whole life on the Oceanside Jetty. This part was cake. I was thinking to myself, “Okay it really wasn’t that bad.” “I was being dramatic.”
We finally made it to the top.
This was by far the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I had never seen a water fall up close, let alone a waterfall connecting three large pools of water, extending over thousands of feet of rock.
PJ and I sat down and had our Cliff bars and some water and just enjoyed the scenery for a while. Since the hike had taken longer than planned, and we still wanted to beat the heat, we decided to head back after about 45 minutes. Going down the rocks was an adventure. We discovered a little rock cave and jumped across the stream a few times. It really was fun. Once we got to the bottom of the rocks though, it was time for us to make our way back up the canyon.
If the trip down wasn’t daunting enough, the trek back up definitely was. At one point I simply could not climb my way up. I was holding on to a rope with both hands, my left foot planted into the ground in the one spot that wasn’t slippery, and my right foot trying to find solid ground about 2 feet above. I was holding on to the rope, wondering how long I could just stay there. “Maybe if I hold on long enough, the hill will magically become less steep, and I’ll be able to climb out of here.”
That wasn’t plausible, and holding on to the rope for the rest of my life wasn’t either.
I finally made it out of there, and by the time we got to the car I was walking as if I was the tin man, and I needed to oil my joints. I couldn’t bend my legs one bit, and more than once I stumbled over myself because of it.
To say that this was the most physically challenged I’d ever been in my life would be an understatement. I had always been active. I was a competitive dancer in high school, I was a dance and cheer teacher in college, and I frequented the gym.
This hike had pushed me AND my muscles further than we had ever been, mentally and physically. For the first time in a while, I felt like I could accomplish anything. If I had done this, why CAN’T I do the Grand Canyon? (Funny what an adrenaline rush can make you believe.) But it wasn’t just the physical things; I felt GOOD about MYSELF.
The day we did that hike just happened to be the six month point from which PJ had broken his tibia and fibula, so we were both on a serious high that day. Since then, I haven’t really done anything to push myself like that, and I haven’t even thought about that until writing this. I think we all need to do things that challenge ourselves at least once a day. Obviously we can’t all do strenuous four hour hikes every day, but we CAN do something every day that pushes our self perceived limits.
So I hope you enjoyed my pep talk. Go gettem’ tiger!