Trip Report
2012_06 Arroyo Seco River Adventure - Hiking/Scrambling/Swimming with Kids
Sunday September 2, 2012 4:48pm
Any good car camping trip in our family must include a substantial serving of Chicken Apple Sausages cooked over the campfire:

Thank goodness the kids are big enough to get the inside of the tent ready while I work on dinner. Pretty soon I'll be able to sit back and let them do everything!


A little evening cuddling...

And the next morning, junior warriors ready for Training Day:

Psyched for it

We'll hike up this road, and eventually we'll come back scrambling/swimming/floating/bushwacking through the river below:

And so it begins:

Geology sampling along the way... they have to carry whatever they want to bring. The days of stuffing my pockets are winding down:

It takes time to peel them away from it

Phew! We make it to the bridge after a few miles, and time for lunch:

The psych continues!

Now it gets serious real quick! Look out Indiana Jones, we've got some aspiring adventures who will find whatever you didn't:

And now we're going to have to get wet (maybe their first time swimming with shoes on):

Back to some scrambling and 'shwacking:

WOOHOO! We made it from the tributary to the main river!

My daughter shows her adventurer heart (I almost said something, and was ready to dive in if things got heinous):

Synchronize your watches as we enter PHASE 3 (floaties):

But a little more scrambling is unavoidable after a while:

And then swimming is unavoidable:

Beautiful spot, great over-water bouldering opportunities:

After surviving some rapids and fun stuff:

Still psyched!

After an awesome narrow canyon, with birds nests and peaceful S-turns through narrow rock walls, we come out into a wide lagoon with a high rock from which I take this picture:

And the kids scramble on up:

It takes him a while to get his groove on, then he makes fine work of this high dive (I took a video of it, no pics mid-flight):

This was a sketchy slab, should have reigned him in a bit here:

Another view of the beautiful lagoon, and some fingers that took the brunt of a slab slider:

Chillin' (or actually warming up a little):

Time to mosey along:

Got keep up the blood glucose and stay hydrated

And with those bases covered, the psych continues!

And onward we flow, somewhere in the Ventana Wilderness:

Chugga chugga choo choo

Starting to get tired:

But there's a lot of river left. Who knows how far to go?

Time for a little play to take a break from swimming and paddling:

Mini rapids, need to do multiple laps:

With spirits recharged, onward we explore:

Sometimes the going is a challenge with slippery large boulders in shallow water. It's easier to go super-man style on the rafts than to walk through it:

Well that is about the end of the photo documentary, because it's tough to keep things dry on a sparsely planned river adventure. Even with several layers of ziplock bags. So we mourned the loss of the camera, but onward our adventures continued. We had a lot of daylight to work with, but there were points when I thought maybe this idea should have baked a little more, what with waning sun and colder feeling water and an unknown amount of adventurous sections ahead, and no dry clothing or bivie gear. The only way out was down the river. Kids, buck up and let's get it done.

Phew! We made it. Got to wrap up the early evening with some cool ropeswings into the river pool near the take-out spot, and back to camp in time to get more Chicken Apple Sausages and S'mores before the last rays of sunlight died. Somewhere in there both kids got some more high dives and daddy got a super-high dive. It was epic. I even got in a lot of bouldering mileage while trying to bypass sections the kids floated through.

Arroyo Seco is awesome and we'll be back next year!

Charging the rapids at Arroyo Seco
Charging the rapids at Arroyo Seco
Credit: nutjob

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About the Author
nutjob is a climber from Berkeley, CA.

Some people call me the space cowboy yeah
Some call me the gangster of love
Some people call me Maurice
'Cause I speak of the pompetous of love

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Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Sep 2, 2012 - 05:18pm PT
doesn't get much better than that!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Sep 2, 2012 - 05:47pm PT
Nice Job NutJob!!!

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Sep 2, 2012 - 08:44pm PT
Oh yeah! A good time was had by all, I am sure! I really like how you've introduced them to the outdoors in a way that emphasizes that it's Fun, out there.

My youngest niece, 3b, got introduced to camping this weekend, and is a fan, as well!

Oakland, CA
  Sep 4, 2012 - 04:08pm PT
Beautiful, bud. Looks like paradise to me.
scuffy b

heading slowly NNW
  Sep 4, 2012 - 06:41pm PT
Beautiful. Thanks.

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  Sep 4, 2012 - 06:47pm PT
What a great dad.

Some of my best childhood memories are of " scrambling/swimming/floating/bushwacking" with my own father.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Sep 4, 2012 - 07:04pm PT
Way to get out with the kiddos!

Double thumbs up Dad!

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Sep 4, 2012 - 10:38pm PT
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Jan 30, 2015 - 03:03pm PT
Nut, where is this? Something my kids would absolutely love. Is there an Arroyo Seco in the Ventana Wilderness? This can't be the Arroyo Seco near Pasadena.
Inner City

Trad climber
Portland, OR
  Jan 30, 2015 - 03:52pm PT
This is likely the Arroyo Seco on the eastern side of the Ventana Wilderness, emptying out into the upper Salinas Valley.

Sure looks like a fun day hike for kids and adults!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Jan 30, 2015 - 04:07pm PT
Indeed this is west of Salinas. Driving 101 it looks like nothing there, but beauty lies within.

Here is the beta I used for my trip:
Paul Martzen

Trad climber
  Jan 30, 2015 - 07:00pm PT
Nice trip report and great photos.

Something my kids and I liked was using masks or goggles in small creeks. Just going a few inches under the surface reveals such a different world.

the last bivy
  Jan 30, 2015 - 07:24pm PT
total fun! btw .. this is often populated by naked hippies

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  May 22, 2016 - 11:14am PT
It's been 4 years, finally went back yesterday. Very different conditions. Water level is just barely lower (gauge reading 7 vs 7.5) which actually makes some rapids and waterfalls mellower and makes me realize how bold I was bringing the kids last time on-sighting the canyon with minimal escape options after committing.

Lots more people yesterday, and instead of 100 degree temps, more like low to mid 60s. Then factor in FRIGID water and it's a totally different ballgame in May vs. June. I didn't want to commit to the whole descent this time for fear of real hypothermia. But we went upstream a little farther to explore some new territory and used our former starting point as the take-out this time. Turned out to be a perfect amount of adventure to make the drive worth it, while not suffering too much from the cold. Both kids got banged up a bit, but within 5 minutes it was still a net positive experience.

I actually took very few pictures because the best moments for it was too hard, too little time to get the phone out of the ziplock bag inside the dry bag. I missed the video on the hairiest rapid because they got sucked into it before I could get the camera ready, but I did snap a few stills amidst the carnage.

Words of wisdom: condoms do not make good phone waterproofing. My son showed me a YouTube link with this idea, so I tried it.

Credit: NutAgain!

My daughter is not quite 12 years old, and I was disconcerted to hear her say at some point "can you get the phone from my bag? It's next to the broken condom." Made for good opportunities for sharing their experiences in sex ed classes at school.

I wonder what the lady at CVS thought when I checked out with these items:
Credit: NutAgain!

The flowers are excellent right now. Honeysuckle, Indian Paintbrush, a few types of yellow things I don't know and white things. And those giant dandelion-like puffballs that I've only seen near Moab while on a canyon exploration with Jaybro.

Credit: NutAgain!

Sredni Vashtar

Social climber
out in front
  May 22, 2016 - 01:59pm PT
Nice report, looks like a hoot
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