Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rock Creek

As the grand finale to summer vacationing, my family and I drove to the Sierra Nevada's of California to camp for a week. Rock Creek campground, which lies 40 or so miles south of the famed Yosemite, has been a favorite camping place of ours for as long as I can remember. In fact, my dad camped there as a kid with his parents, and I hope take my kids there someday as well. :)

On the way there, just before coming into Bakersfield, California, the hills are covered with windmills!

When we got there, a small family had just barely finished setting up camp in our favorite spot. We literally missed it by only a few hours. I was so disappointed - almost heartbroken! That spot is where we always stay! It's right on the edge of the forest and closest to the swimming holes. Dad and I talked to them though, and asked if they'd be willing to change spots if we helped them move. They eventually obliged and we got our beloved spot. :) Here you can see our campsite all nestled in amongst our coniferous friends.

This gives you a pretty good idea of what the creek is like. Small and lush, gently cascading over granite as it makes its way down the valley, pausing at times to form clear pools that practically beg you to come swimming.

Here's another shot of the creek. Erosion has left the granite twisted and smooth, as if it were a piece of ancient taffy, pulled by giants and long since hardened.

At night, we were given a full view of the Milky Way. I had no tripod and had a hard time focusing on the stars, but even so I was pleasantly surprised with how this picture turned out.

Pieces of Obsidian are plentiful all over the campsite. This rock was used often by Indians to make arrowheads, knives, and other sharp tools.

Down near the creek, there are many small holes carved into the rock. As kids we always thought these were holes in which the Indians ground their corn. In fact, even the adults thought so. We found out years later, though, that they are only a strange form of erosion. Still cool, though. :)

This tree is absolutely amazing! It's growing from nothing more than a one-inch gap in the rock!

Here's a close-up of the gap at the base of the tree. I know this poor thing doesn't grow much because it's been the same size it is now since I was a little guy. What a testament, though, to the resilience of nature!

In the pool below our campsite, a natural water slide slicks across the top of the granite. It looks really black here because of the exposure of the camera, but it's actually only slightly darker than the surrounding granite, tinged red from algae. It is VERY slippery.

We found a dead guy floating in the water when we came down one day. We had to call the ranger and they brought up a CSI team and ... no... not really. It's just Dad looking into the depths of the pool with his mask.

Dad and I burning down some firewood for coals. We roasted hot dogs over the fire for dinner that night. Mmmm.

One of our adventures was a day-trip to Jackass Creek. One of the lovelier features of Jackass is that the bottom is entirely sandy. No rocks at all. It's not that deep, though. Here, Tyler and Mom enjoy the clear water.

Another view of Jackass creek, looking toward the road that we took up there.

Tyler took this picture of the camp table and I really liked it. You've got the typical camp stuff here - a book to read, a roll of paper towels, scrabble scores, and a carving of a dream-catcher undoubtedly put there by somebody who thought they were doing a spiritual favor to the campsite.

This is the main pond at the Rock Creek campground. At its deepest it's about 9 feet deep. It used to be a beautiful swimming hole, complete with a rope swing but in recent years a large pine tree fell into it and rotted on the bottom, creating a quagmire of pine needles and branches. Fishermen still love it, though.

We went to Bass Lake one day for a picnic and a few hours of swimming. Sadly, this is the only decent photo I took there - one of Mom looking over the lake. The water there is much warmer than that of the creek, but the shore of the lake is very rocky and painful to walk on, so it's a trade off.

It looks like I'm naked, but I assure you I'm wearing a swimsuit.

Tyler's expression says, "Behold! A man and his domain of nature!" I envisioned the woodland creatures scurrying forth to his side, the birds perching on his arms, but it didn't happen. Nature doesn't often do what it's supposed to.

I'm not sure where this rock was before it fell, but it's huge. And I love the tiny plant growing on it.

What better way to end a blog about camping than with a delicious smore. Enjoy.



  1. Wow that looked and sounded like a great vacation. That was incredibly nice of that other family to move spots for you! The natural water slide was really cool. I'm not sure if I could have done it though if it was slick from algae. Maybe if I had shorts or a body suit on. Oh, and I loved your description, likening the creek stones to pulled, hardened taffy.

  2. Sounds like you guys had a great time :)

    The floating dead body, did creep me out for a moment..haha

  3. hahaha, dad and the dead man's float! Those are classic Rock Creek images!

  4. Your pics make me feel like I was there, but in a good way ;)