Defender of the Arch near Edison Lake

January 7, 2014 

Every adventure into the wilderness has its surprises. It could be an old gold mine forgotten over a century ago. Was it abandoned because that precious yellow metal played out from within its depths?

Or maybe looking off in the distance at a lonely mountain side, three small white specs were jumping from boulder to boulder. Could they be Big Horn Sheep?

With that thought in mind, four miles west of Edison Lake, along an abandoned forest road is the trail head called Onion Springs. This location is the completion of my wilderness loop. But first I had to follow this old abandoned forest road as it descends in elevation to Rock Creek.

My map displayed an old Indian trail which follows this creek up stream to its source, Rock Creek Lake. Once on the creeks opposite side I started searching for the trail location. To my surprise the local inhabits have been following this trail for decades. Their paw and hoof prints have kept the forest growth to a minimum.

Along the stream are a few forgotten American Indian campsites. One particular camp was located next to a natural 30 degree rock water slide. The cascading water flowed a distance of 60 feet with natural pools carved into polished rocks. This was my campsite the first night and those pools were quite refreshing.

The following afternoon I arrived at Rock Creek Lake. This mountain lake is surrounded by a large rock cropping and native pine trees. The outlet was cluttered with those fallen sentinels that failed to survive harsh winter storms. They created natural bridges while exploring around the lake.

The following morning I crossed that bridge once again to locate the trail and proceeded to a major east and south trail junction. The east trail gradually increased in elevation as it led past Frog and Coyote Lakes. Once over a small pass Big Margret Lake came into view. I had lunch at the falls that cascaded down to Bathtub Lake. Then I retreated back to Frog Lake for my next campsite. Tomorrow will be my final day so I allowed time to locate and photograph Arch Rock which is located on the south trail from the junction.

Towering sculpture of nature is 50 feet high

I departed at day-break and started my climb on the south trail to the pass. Once arriving at the pass I removed my backpack and took my camera, started climbing to the west. Only a short period of time passed before the arch came into view at 10,400 feet. This towering sculpture of nature stands 50 feet high and extends over 60 feet in length. Interesting how those huge boulders interlock to form this historical structure.

Directly across from this arch is a steep rock face with sculptured formations formed by water erosion and time. Maybe millions of years ago this section of the mountain was under water.

Then from overhead the sound of air rushing over a moving surface broke the silence associated with the wilderness. I looked up and to my surprise a Golden Eagle had just broke its dive and passed directly over me. Immediately he started screeching as if he was upset with my invasion of his territory. He returned to circle me a couple more times — each time with that chilling cry.

Twice he maneuvered above me then departed into the valley and canyons to the west. Ten minutes later I could see him off in the distance soaring in a canyon between two mountain faces. Could it be this Golden Eagle was protecting its nest or maybe it was welcoming me into the sacred area of Arch Rock?

Later I descended back to the trail, retrieved my backpack and continued toward the Onion Springs Trailhead. I'll never forget the underside of a Golden Eagle, so close to me I could identify each individual feather.

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