No matter where Marcia Penner Freedman hiked, she just kept running into Willow Creek -- whether hiking around Bass Lake or at 6,500 feet in the Sierra National Forest. Questions about the creek and its affect on the area began popping into her mind, so she started searching for answers -- a search that lead her to write "Willow Creek History."
It all began when Freedman moved to the area in 1999. Originally from New York, Freedman lived in Los Angeles for 20 years before moving to the Mountain Area. It was then that she joined Sierra Hiking Seniors, which lead her to discover Willow Creek.
"As I started really reading and doing some research, I learned how important it has been in the development of this area," Freedman said.
Now Freedman hopes others will fall in love with the creek like she has.
"When people see Willow Creek, I want their hearts to pound the way mine does and to understand what this amazing creek has gone through and what it provides to this area," Freedman said.
Freedman's 157-page book was published about a month ago and now is available at many stores in the Mountain Area. There are three upcoming book signings in the Mountain Area.
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturday, June 15, at the Oakhurst Branch Library Community Room off Civic Circle.
7 p.m., Thursday, June 20 at the Coarsegold Museum, 31899 Highway 41.
2 to 3:30 p.m., Saturday July 20, at the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau, 40637 Highway 41 in Oakhurst.
The book is full of historic photographs and is broken into three sections -- Creek with a Past, Hard-Working Water, and How Do We Want to Walk on the Land? It tells the stories of generations past and how they were affected by the creek -- from Mono Indians who lived on the creek's banks to the Mariposa Indian Wars, pioneers, logging and the shake makers (mountaineers who cut shakes on government land), and hydroelectricity.
"This creek has been used and abused and really deserves to be taken care of," Freedman said.
Freedman conducted numerous interviews for her book and talked to many local residents who have a long history in the area. She included some of their stories in "Willow Creek History."
"I want people to appreciate the people they live amongst -- the rich history of the people here and generation after generation of families who have made this area what it is," Freedman said.
What Freedman appreciated most about the experience was the friends she made along the way.
"This experience has just exploded," she said. "How differently I understand it and see it and see the people. And how much more a part of this community it has made me feel. When you immerse yourself in something like that -- the surprises, the people, the help, the support -- it kind of changes your view."
Freedman said friends were generous in joining her in her research and guiding her to places. Jeannie Habben, a facilitator for the Central Sierra Watershed Committee, was one of those people. She was instrumental connecting her to agencies associated with water and Willow Creek. Habben said "Willow Creek History" is a very entertaining read.
"It's always fun to see what people went through in the past," Habben said. "Working on Willow Creek projects, we've done some field trips in that area. It's kind of neat to know how they used to travel it (the area) and see a beat up cabin and know people used to stay there three to four months out of the year."
Susan Rappaport has already read Freedman's book and can't say enough good things about it.
"Marcia's book makes reading about our local history fun and interesting," Rappaport said. "Her inclusion of interviews of local residents who have shared their memories and the numerous photos and maps makes her book especially enjoyable and informative. It is a marvelous blending of history and facts along with the warmth of personal interviews."