Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Don't Wade Hot Creek

Hot Creek begins its life as Mammoth Creek flowing out of Twin Lakes, in California's Eastern Sierra Nevada. It makes it's way to the Hot Creek Fish Hatchery and confluences with warmer water from natural geothermal springs commonly found in the Long Valley Caldera area. It eventually flows down to become a tributary to Crowley Lake. As it travels through the Hot Creek Gorge hot springs in and near the stream bed can be found.   As recent as 2006 the geothermal activity in the Hot Creek Gorge has become increasingly unpredictable, intermittently emanating geysers.  The activity produces enough vigor to shoot scalding water as high as 6 feet as well as popping from the steam vents in the vicinity and from in creek itself.    For this reason the Forest Service has closed parts of the area due to its dangerous and unpredictable activity. They posted warning signs to deter the fishermen from wading in its dangerous and scalding water. "Don't Wade Hot Creek."

Its popularity began as a location in many Hollywood films, then continued with anglers, bird watchers, swimmers and photographers alike.  It had been several years since I last visited Hot Creek, and  I wanted to return to capture it during sunrise.   I remembered the winding creek that seemed to flow out from the surrounding mountains. Steam rising up in plumes of alkali mist. What I didn't remember was you couldn't camp with in a mile from the creek.  I scouted and found a forest service road a short distance and camped there, but had to make more of an effort. Especially the next morning. I was able to get there at just the right time for the light illuminate the peak and to skip atop the trees.  After what seemed to be a brief window, the show was over. I returned to the van and prepared my morning coffee and breakfast.   A fisherman arrived just as I had taken the shot of the sign "Don't Wade Hot Creek." I chuckled to myself, "I Waded Hot Creek."  I think he thought I was crazy.

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