Pine Creek Canyon Memories

The first few times my family and I hiked the Pine Creek Canyon trail, the only water we saw was in the cattail-lined,, deep, green pool near the metal picnic table off the Fire Ecology trail.

And then one February afternoon as the weather started to warm, I took the kids and dog out to Pine Creek after school. As we hiked along the trail heading toward the old homestead, I noticed an unidentifiable loud whooshing sound.

At first I thought it must be a strong wind approaching from our left,. Bbut the wind never arrived. Then I realized that the sound wasn’t getting louder or quieter, but seemed to follow us as we headed through the pines, toward the canyon.

We wondered if it could be water – it almost sounded like a waterfall. The kids and I decided to investigate and began to bushwhack  make our way through the scrub bushes and stick-branches of the trees toward the sound. And then suddenly there it was: a rushing torrent of water, racing over the rocks and weeds, through the bushes and trees .

The stream reminded me of the clear, rushing creeks up in the mountains of North Carolina. It was unlike anything else we’d seen in Red Rock – or anywhere nearby. I couldn’t believe this was here, in the desert. We started to hike up the creek, mesmerized by what we had found.

About a quarter of a mile upstream, the water flattened out, and became much wider, covering the roots of trees, so that many of them looked like they were growing up out of the water.

The kids played there for a while, stepping gingerly from rock to rock, and walking across the trunk of a fallen tree. When we left Pine Creek that day, I felt like we had discovered gold. I was so happy to find that one of the things I missed the most about the east coast was actually here after all… (albeit temporary).

The next February we returned: once with just my son and our dog, filming a “short” about a magic pebble in the creek; (and stayed for three hours while he filmed a “short” about a magic pebble in a creek), twice with neighbors to walk along the creek;, once after it snowed;, and then again in March, when it started to hail.

This summer while back east, I got a text from a friend that Pine Creek was burning. and I worried about the trees that lined our favorite creek., bBut then I remembered the Ecology Fire trail loop (where the Bureau of Land Management conducted a prescribed burn in 1992 to clear the flammable brush that could otherwise have enabled tree-destroying wildfires), and wondered if it might have been a good thing. Twenty acres burned and took two days to extinguish.

I’ve been out to the trail since the fire, and didn’t see any damage. Apparently the June 22 fire was closer to Dale’s trail, just north of Pine Creek. It’s good to know the pine trees are still there.

I can’t wait until February.