This Memorial Day, Tim, Elle and I, took advantage of the perfect weather hike the Punch Bowl Hike in Santa Paula with our friends Dan, Kelly, their sweet pup, Buttercup, and some other friends of friends hikers. Its great how many hiking places are around us, and each hike presents a new adventure, and this hike really was .. unforgettable. We got Elle a backpack, so she could finally start pulling her own weight (and she also carried our snacks)! It was SO cute to see her on her backpacking mission. The hike began right past this beautiful Catholic college (Thomas Aquinas College) nestled on the edge of the Los Padres National Forest. The hike was pretty much all uphill from there until the final destination “the falls” of Punch Bowls at 580 feet above Santa Paula Canyon. The views were spectacular and the hike was very challenge navigating uphill through unstable rocks on the dried creek bed. There were also some massive rocks to climb over and around nearly hugging sheer faces of slipper rock! My hands are sweating just thinking about it again!
When we arrived at the falls, we ate our lunch and Elle and Buttercup dove into the water to play fetch with a huge stick (and their favorite red football). Kelly jumped in too, but it was way too cold for me. While we were relaxing and re-fueling for the hike back, we saw two guys at the top of the waterfall. Anyone that cliff jumps in secluded places like that I consider a total nut, but I wasn’t too worried about it because the water below seemed pretty deep, and as long as they jumped AWAY from the cliff (tons of rocks right below the falls) I assumed they would be okay. Unfortunately, they were complete idiots and after their HEAD FIRST DIVE (!!!!) – at the SAME TIME – STRAIGHT DOWN – one of them was not so lucky. I saw him come up for air after his dive and he cracked his head open and there was blood.. everywhere… the last time I could stand to look at him, he was coughing up the sickest, thickest blood I have ever seen, and it was coming out of his head, ears, nose, mouth, etc… it was horrible. He went into total shock and thank the lord (and what must have been the heavenly spirit of Thomas Aquinas College) there was a doctor hanging out with his family at the falls. The doctor wrapped his bloody head up with Dan’s shirt, and then the second blessing came, when I found out that one of OUR hiking crew was with the Ventura County Sherriff department, and was able to call a city rescue helicopter from his radio. Talk about this idiot cliff diver’s lucky day. In about 7 minutes a huge helicopter found us in the forest to get this guy to the hospital. The actual rescue was pretty incredible to watch… I felt angry at that guy that cliff dove, but so thankful to that doctor and to the search and rescue team for helping him. It is one of those humbling moments when you remember how precious and delicate life is.