Onion Springs to Rock Creek

July 11, 2012 

Today I will continue my adventure along this picturesque creek which has been forgotten by the average hiker. Some of the distinguishing sights along Rock Creek are the old growth Pine and Oak trees and a few four to six feet water falls cascading through this wilderness meadow. The American Indian discovered this creek centuries ago and along its banks are signs of their habitation. Grinding holes, obsidian chips and even a few fire rings (maybe left over from the early cattle ranchers).

After my adventurous hike down to the San Joaquin River earlier today, spending quiet time at my base camp would be an ideal way to end this day. Even the weather has cooperated with beautiful clear blue skies. With a few hours of daylight remaining, maybe I can squeeze in a short hike investigating the perimeter of my base camp. With the temperature hovering in the low eighties, I removed my shirt to enjoy the mild late afternoon. The decision of removing my shirt was not the right choice with my profile blending in with the landscaping. My walking shorts and hat are light brown and attached to the hat band is an owl feather which I found early this morning. On several occasions the feather would vibrate from the summer breeze, of course my normal body movements kept the feather active.

As I entered a small clearing I heard the flapping of wings behind me. When I turned and looked overhead, a Red tail Hawk was terminating his dive only ten feet above me. My body color and cloths blended with the terrain and the owl feather in my hat didn't help the confused hawk looking for his next meal. In the wilderness hawks and owls have a major dislike for each other? The owls would raid the hawks nests at night. By me displaying the owl feather in my hat, I became the hawks target for a meal.

As he flew off he chattered non-stop displaying his disappointment that I was much too large of a meal. I've had enough excitement for today, now it's back to camp. Maybe those coyotes will stay out of the area tonight.

I slept great last night with no interruptions from the coyote's. Today I'm following up on a rumor that Big Foot Tracks were seen along Rock Creek a few years ago. I spent all morning and part of the afternoon crossing the hillsides, walking the creek and searching the low laying wet areas. After covering at least one quarter square mile, and as I expected; there were no signs that he was ever through this area. I found fresh bear, coyote and deer tracks but no signs anywhere of solving that rumor of those eight inch by 18 inch foot prints with a six-foot stride. Back to camp and gather my thoughts and get ready for my hike back to the trail head tomorrow.

My relaxation lasted for about an hour then I started exploring again. I found another fallen tree which created a new bridge across the creek. The local wild life favored this new location, the pathway entering and exiting the bridge was covered with their prints. If I had discovered the crossing earlier, I would have been using this bridge instead of bolder hopping or wading across the creek.

I departed from my base camp at early morning light. The downed timber across the trail was tough to forge through once again. I thought I twisted my knee jumping from one downed tree to another. Lucky for me I walked out the pain and continue my departure.

On the hike back I stopped at two locations, one was an overview of this huge valley. I could see the canyon carved over time by the San Joaquin River extending for miles through this valley. Second was the old gold mine which has been abandoned for over thirty years. All that remains of this mine today was two huge holes and many small pieces of quartz.

As I continued along the trail to my surprise there were fresh bear tracks leading in my direction of travel. After hiking a short distance, along the trail from behind a huge boulder roughly twenty yards in front of me, I heard branches break from something large crashing through the forest. After a short period of time I cautiously approached the boulder and slowly looked behind it. The noise was the aggressive move of a bear escaping from the trail. Lucky was with me again, the bear never returned.

I arrived at the trail head around early afternoon and made a stop at Edison Lake Pavilion for lunch. I shared my hiking experience with two hikers who were on their final leg of the John Muir Trail, hoping to arrive at Yosemite National Park in ten days.

I'm looking forward to another adventure into the Rock Creek area sometime in the future.

-- Editor's Note: This is part two of a two-part series.

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