Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Alongside an Old Friend

11" X 14", Watercolor

This weekend we went back to Tuttle Creek, our favorite campground outside of Lone Pine, and discovered it closed for renovation. Renovation? Oh no! We liked it the way it was—quiet and rustic, appealing to hardcore campers and fisher folk.

And here's why—aside from its charming creek, there is no potable water there. You have to bring your own. This discourages many people (good!). 

Then there are the pit toilets—fragrant, but charming. The wind whips through there like a bullet train, so the camp hosts have placed rocks on top of the rolls of TP. I imagine this began after a high wind combined with an open door or two caused the mother of all toilet-papering, launching streamers that could be seen from the top of Mt. Whitney.

So, we settled on another campground nearby that is known to be busier, with closely spaced sites. On the plus side, it offers a spectacular view of Mt. Whitney and the especially-inviting Lone Pine Creek.

Lone Pine Creek was our companion on much of the hike up Whitney. It’s an old friend. In this stretch of its journey, the creek is picturesquely shaded by willows. The banks offer plenty of comfy spots to sit and commune with nature. It’s positively idyllic. Running down a terraced slope, the creek is stocked with colorful boulders that create frothy patches of fluorescent white water.

I found a soft spot just inches from the water where I could enjoy the view upstream a stair step or two. It was peaceful and inspiring. I was a bit nervous about someone or something (a bear!) sneaking up on me, because the roar of the water rushing over the rocks combined with the rustling of the leaves overhead erased all other sound. It was the perfect white noise, erasing all but pleasant thoughts.

Water is challenging to capture with paint. It can be darn near every color of the rainbow, from the palest green, to deep moss and amber; glints of turquoise and blue dancing in the foam. The shadows were moist earthy browns darkening to indigo; the rocks bright reds and golds in the sun, curving into velvety darkness under the veil of water pouring over them.

It was heavenly.

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