Three of us headed out of Mill Creek Wash this morning (07:30) with hopes of reaching the Headwall, and then summiting Galena Peak. The morning started with a light mist, but by the time we had traveled half-way up the wash, the rain started pouring. Criss-crossing the creek was not a problem, and fortunately the rocks were not slippery either. The danger lied in the saturation of rock and earth above us. Soon the water runoff went from a clear color to a muddy brown. Just before the headwall, where the creek narrows tightly, we were greeted by a rather large sized falling rock on one side, and several smaller ones on the opposite side. Even with helmets on, it didn't seem safe to travel on, and plus, the headwall wasn't looking any more stable. The Peak will be there another day, so we turned around. By this time the rain had turned to a mix of sleet and freezing rain (not fun!). It was quite a jaunt back to the car as soaked as we were, and by now the little snow on the ground had turned to slush. All in all, if you can believe it, the trip was a blast and very worth it. We all learned a lot about wet-winter travel. Thank goodness for the bathrooms at the parkign lot. The awning above afforded us just enough protection to slip out of our soaked clothes and into something dry. -DEFINITELY A CANYON MORE SUITED FOR DRIER DAYS-
A friend of mine and me tried going up Mill Creek and straight up one of the chutes that goes directly to the summit. We did it when there was snow (the creek bed and chute were totally covered but late enough in the season to be firm enough to walk on. After playing dodge ball up the chute with grape to baseball sized rock fall, About 500' below the summit I heard some large noises that could only mean something big was coming. We both retreated off the perfect crampon snow/ice of the chute to opposite rock cliffs on the sides. Sure enough a torrent of rock came bouncing down the biggest being the size of a refrigerator that took about six bounces as it flew past us (reminded me like we were in a pinball machine. Needless to say, we retreated after that (it was only getting warmer as the morning wore on and rock fall continued). The rock in the area is in such bad shape because Mill Creek is one of the branches of the San Andreas Fault. As you say, a canyon for drier weather but even then watch for rocks.