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Deep Creek Hot Springs

The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (53% of Full)


Short trip report, Friday, 5/4

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May 07, 2018 11:00AM
I promised a short trip report, like I used to do. I was able to run out to the springs on Friday. The day had two main themes: critter day and PCT hiker day.

Right away turning onto Bowen Ranch Road you could tell the desert was alive with critters. Immediately I saw jackrabbits and desert squirrels running across the road, in all directions. This led to seeing something I've never seen before: I turned a bend in the road, and a large critter was running on the road in the same direction as my car. For a split second I thought I had surprised a coyote, but it was actually a bobcat, running at full speed down the road. I've seen them near the springs before, but never hunting on the road and at full speed. I was able to follow the cat for a few moments before it turned and sped off the road into the brush. A couple of campers at the Ranch, pretty quiet actually, just three or so vehicles and some girls just arriving at the same time as me. I started my hike down before them - and at the bottom of the first big hill from Bowen I was distracted by some new trail graffiti that was making me mad. I noticed a jack rabbit watching me off the trail. It made no attempt to hop away. I thought that was strange until I walked on and on the other side of a big rock from the rabbit was a 4 foot long rattler that seemed on the hunt. It was a few feet off the trail. This was around 9am. Big rattler. It slithered alongside the trail. I could hear the chatter of the two girls at the top of the hill and thought about trying to yell back to them to warn them, but they were too far up and behind. Later, arriving at the beach, they had made time up on me and came up just after me - and I asked them about the rattler and they were squealing right away, it was their first time, and the rattler was laying on the trail by the time they got to it, they had to hike around it. At the springs - bullfrogs loudly calling, tadpoles as big as your hand, catfish already swimming, the squirrels organized into armies and with babies that have no fear as of yet, and come right up to you even if you try to shoo them away. It would have been an extremely quiet day at the springs - maybe 10 people total during the morning and early afternoon - if not for the groups of PCT hikers that began to show up after 10am. 35-40 of them, of every age, and stripe and nationality. Yes some of them literally had stripes. Germany, and Denmark, and the UK, and Texas, and upstate NY, and Japan, and ... it was unending, the variety of stories and places they were from. They were mostly never noods, but a small subgroup of Canadian and UK hikers were like ... skinny-dipping, yes please! And spent the day running around nude. The hiker trash thing is a thing, and the hikers were very ... fragrant. Hopefully the springs were a good bath for most. Mostly when they arrived, they dropped their packs on the beach, against a tree, and hit the waters. This was a problem in two respects - first the squirrel army. They were relentless. I immediately warned any hikers to get their packs up in the trees, off the ground, or to leave them with other people nearby. Some listened, some found big gaping holes in their packs a few moments later. One guy lost his treasure, a Snickers bar, to the rodent army. The other problem was one I experienced too much first hand - around 1pm just after eating lunch. I was laying on my towel on the beach in the shade of the green green spring trees. So green. I may have been enjoying some herb like substance. Very relaxing. There were almost no familiar faces to me at the springs on this quiet Friday, no regulars, given the few visitors and the many hikers passing through. But I recognized T, someone I have seen at the springs since my first visits many years ago. He came over to my towel and was standing next to it while I was lying down, and we were chatting. In fact, we were chatting about the big rattler I had seen in the morning when - suddenly, T exclaims holy shit, and jumps back, and I see a rattler - young, maybe a two footer - had just "appeared" basically on and next to his feet. Right next to my towel. I jumped up and back - the rattler was coiled and looking like it was ready to strike, and making not a single rattle or sound. Where did it come from? Was it hungry? On the hunt at midday for the squirrels? Did it just slither down the beach and hit us where we were laying? Why didn't it rattle? I thought T might have been bit, but he wasn't and we were both totally spooked. The rattler slithered down to a tree trunk and set up underneath it, a few feet away on the beach. This is in the middle of where all the PCT hikers are leaving their packs and enjoying the shade. I warned them all, and the snake stayed in its spot for about two more hours, before heading even further down into the brush toward the creek.

So it is snake season, big time. That was the closest call I've had with a rattler at Deep Creek, in all my years. (Well, except for that one time, a decade ago, I was using the "facilities" way off trail, away from the creek somewhere, and a baby rattler slithered between my legs, centimeters away from my balls. You don't forget such things. Life passing before your eyes. But that rattler was not aggressive - this one was.) On a brighter note, I've never seen the springs so clean. There was almost zero trash. I had a bag to clean up, but didn't find much. A really impressive thing to see - and the hikers were pretty great in terms of their leave no trace ethics. I saw no glass bottles on this trip, no one trying to make a fire - well it was a 90 degree day again now - no stupid behavior. Just a lot of people having fun and enjoying a beautiful green spring day at the springs, with all looking pristine.

I had my share of sun and so hiked out slowly while it was still a bit hot - around 4pm. Another sighting, of the rarest of critters - bobcats, rattlers, and ... a Jobe. This Jobe came around a bend all free hiking as the Jobes do in the wild, and on his way to a bathe in the springs for the end of the afternoon. It was good to see a Jobe in the wild. Finally, at the end of the visit, a familiar face.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/07/2018 11:22AM by neogeo.

Short trip report, Friday, 5/4

neogeo2050May 07, 2018 11:00AM

Re: Short trip report, Friday, 5/4

Wizard686May 07, 2018 11:32AM

Re: Short trip report, Friday, 5/4

neogeo652May 07, 2018 11:57AM

Re: Short trip report, Friday, 5/4

neogeo800May 07, 2018 11:59AM

Re: Short trip report, Friday, 5/4

Wizard1011May 07, 2018 04:19PM

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