Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wentworth Springs

Wentworth Springs, California

During the weeks ahead, California’s world-renowned dry heat would partner with July’s annual drought to scorch the daylights out of the parched and cloudless foothills and its thirsty, panting inhabitants.  Not even the jackrabbits were stirring! The inescapable outcome of the county’s worldwide notoriety and resulting industry had been the untimely destruction of the foothills heretofore-unspoiled environment.  With industry and commerce, had come abuse and exploitation.  Where there’s something to ruin, there’s someone to ruin it!  I don’t question our motives; but for every failure of stewardship there’s a grandiose excuse.  Above six thousand feet the encroachment of man and civilization was still only an ugly threat!  Here the majestic Sierras maintained their timeless reign in unmolested grandeur. God was in his heaven, and for those familiar with the Sierras, there’s very little doubt that this is it.  This unspoiled wilderness is our destination.  One full day’s hard ride would bring us to an innocuous little lake on the edge of the nearly impenetrable stronghold of what many believe is surely Gods finest work.  Just shy of seven thousand feet, Loon Lake perches luminously at an elevation where even the hardiest conifer must stop in wonder and admire the heights to which some peaks aspire. 

   This day’s travel would take us northeast into the furthermost reaches of Mosquito Road. Crossing the now familiar swinging bridge at the south fork of the American River, we would continue beyond the rural settlement at Mosquito, passed Slate Mountain and Pino Grande, arriving eventually at Onion Valley Road.  From here we would proceed eastward, passed Robb’s Peak, and, ascending a rugged granite trail along Gerle Creek, arrive at long last at Wentworth Springs. Beyond this odoriferous little mineral spring, Gerle Creek gurgles, splashes and meanders lazily from its snow fed headwaters, high in a desolate but awe-inspiring landscape of granite, stunted conifers, and a hardy little perennial lovingly referred to as mountain misery! I would guesstimate the distance of this little trek at right around forty gut wrenching miles, and rating the ruggedness of the terrain on a basis of 1 to 10, 10 being impassable, I’d have to say it rates a perfect ten!  It was coming up fast on sunset as we arrived at Wentworth Springs.  Of course it would never do to visit a mineral spring and not sample the vintage, so cleaning the mud from the chipped graniteware vessel thoughtfully supplied for just that purpose, I dipped up a generous ladleful, briefly inhaled its boiled-egg-like aroma, and gallantly gulped ‘er down! Suffice it to say, I would not recommend this to a friend!  If you’re absolutely determined to try this delicate bouquet for yourself, by all means, DO NOT INHALE! "Obie's Quest" 

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