Sunday, August 5, 2012

Green Creek - August 2012

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An Unexpected Adventure.

How did this adventure start? Wednesday just before noon, Barking Spider found me at work in my shop. Retired, he has the knack for showing up right before lunch especially when he knows the Lady is on break from teaching. But we love him and his friendship and just the sheer entertainment value is worth far more than the cost of feeding him.
“Darn, I was going to go through Mrs. Spider’s sewing basket.” He started right in.
“Looking for what?” I was taking the bait.
“I wanted to find a spare pull tab. It’d be cool to super glue it at the end of the line of those staples in your back. It’d really look like a zipper!”
Everyone should be lucky enough to have a friend like Barking Spider.
Then he got to the reason for his visit, other than lunch.
“We want to go camping.”
“Who is we?” I asked.
“Little Spider has been begging to go camping. The Lady does too, I just talked with her.”
“Okay. I see the doc on Saturday and he’s taking out the staples and has several more moles he wants to cut out. I see the surgeon on Monday to set up the lymph node biopsy. We want to get that done as soon as we can. I’m game but I don’t know how I’m going to be feeling after these two whittle on me.”
Barking countered. “We’re talking about going camping now and you can get back on Saturday for that appointment.”
“What?” I was surprised.
“Yeah, right now. Today.”
I continued, “I rode in the Subaru on Saturday over to Safeway. The seats and ride were awful on my back. I’ve healed a lot but I don’t know how comfortable it will be in the truck and driving.”

I found the Lady in the house on the exercise bike working on her knee.
“I’m going to take the truck to the Post Office, get the mail and see how it feels to drive.”
The drive was not bad. The truck’s seats are the most comfortable I’ve had in a vehicle. With the good lumbar support, my upper back hardly touched the seat. I carried the mail into the house. The Lady now looked up from fixing Barking’s deli sandwich.
“Pack the truck. Driving is not bad.”
“Really?” the Lady was beaming.
I turned to Barking, “And where are we going?”
“We’re going to Green Creek. We’ll camp at the rock you told me about.”

“Right now” was really not practical. Grabbing a couple of subway sandwiches for dinner, we were on our way around five fifteen in the afternoon. Too far to Green Creek in the remaining daylight, we made it to Ted’s camp on Monitor Pass.  I walked Thursday morning and watched the full moon drop in the western sky………………

…………….just as the sun rose in the east.

The Lady found me and she suggested climbing a nearby rocky point as a vantage point to watch the dawn unfold. Camp was below us to the north.

We made our way down 395, through Bridgeport, and on to Green Creek. This usually busy place was quiet. I was surprised to find our desired camp spot empty as were those nearby. We explored the creek, meadows, and beaver ponds. This is really remarkable habitat.

Friday morning was refreshingly cool as the sun filtered in among the willows in the extensive Green Creek meadow system.

Along with Barking and Little Spider, we were camped at the rock.

After breakfast, the Lady and Barking Spider walked up Green Creek Road to the Hoover Wilderness Trailhead. I had finished up my dishwashing chores and decided to do an easy walk along the road and meet up with them. The Nikon was back in the camper. I noticed the dust and the two small animals in the road from a good distance away. I had often seen Belding’s Ground Squirrels fighting, whether a friendly tussle or a serious argument. This looked like a very serious argument. I decided to slowly advance and take this in. One got away and took off but was intercepted at the roads edge, nailed hard.   They rolled and fought. The larger one dragged the smaller one back across the road. They rolled some more. The battle continued. This was fast and furious. It was when the battle slowed in the middle of the road that I noticed the longer tail on the smaller one. It had a black tip and then I saw the little upright cub ears and the masked face as it stared at me, the dying squirrel’s neck in its unrelenting jaws. It was a Short-tailed Weasel and it had just killed a squirrel almost twice its size. Although I was quite a distance away, it released its grip and scurried back under the sage and willows. I backed away in hopes it would reclaim its prize. The body was still there when the Lady, Barking, and I returned to camp. We inspected it. There was very little blood. The weasel had efficiently gone to the back of the neck.

I walked back a short while later and the squirrel was gone. This was an everyday occurrence, although seldom witnessed; a natural circle of life that we all are part of, part of the laws of nature that rule us, whether we choose to recognize it or not.

Wearing a backpack was out of the question for me. Twenty staples still lined the wound across my back. Today I’d try my fly vest but mostly take it easy, wade in Green Creek's cold water, watch in wonder the things around me, and disappear into the folds of nature’s fabric.

Little Spider wanted to work on her fly fishing skills. I was on hand to offer an occasional pointer or observation as father helped his daughter.

She worked on her stealth on this quiet clear stream and worked on reaching undercut banks.

She learned about structure in the creek and trout lies and patience when the fly mostly captures a limb behind instead of a wary trout.

Mountain mornings are made for moments like this. The Lady climbed to a rocky knob to oversee her domain and booed out a large doe in the process. Little Spider displayed a calm determination that showed it will be the successes amid the challenges that will teach her.

We slowly waded and moved back up to camp. Later in the afternoon the Lady and I walked together up canyon. The small things caught our eyes.

A remnant hunk of granite, unbudged by glaciers, is the feature we call the rock. The Lady and I climbed to the top Friday evening. Glacial striations still exist in spots. This was an excellent place to spend our last evening.

Barking and Little Spider found us, carrying with them freshly popped corn. A thunderstorm had skirted us to the north and broke over the Twin Lakes area. The lingering clouds provided a spectacular backdrop to our evening.

We marveled at the huge lateral moraines on both sides of the lower valley. We discussed how moraines are not gouged or plowed up by glaciers but are off loaded from the glacier’s top, the glacier acting as a giant conveyor belt. It gave us an idea of the thickness of the ice that once moved through and shaped this drainage.

The Lady and I needed to leave early Saturday morning, an appointment to make. We woke at 4:30, brewed up our coffee, and quietly packed up. We’d grab breakfast on the road. We left the Spiders to enjoy a little more relaxing trip home. We came around the hill below Dynamo Pond and the sunrise over the Bodie Hills was taking shape.

It was a wonderful start to another day and a promise for many more adventures ahead.

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