Saturday, March 15, 2014

Three Treasures, Independence Creek Campground

The Grave of a Beloved Cat

I met a fellow fulltimer in Independence Creek Campground who calls himself Calamity Chris. Retired from a career as a chef at a restaurant in Death Valley, he lives in a big 'ole 5th wheel trailer surrounded by an array of solar panels of mixed size, age and amperage, set up to feed a battery bank that powers his 36" hi-def TV. Honey Bunny was his companion for many years. So far, no one has disturbed this grave, and campers leave small mementoes on the stones, such as coins, toys, wildflowers.

Indian Grinding Stones

According to Calamity Chris, Independence Creek campground was built on a shelf of dirt bulldozed over an ancient Indian gathering site just west of what is now the town of Independence. Indian Tribes in the EA normally lived in small bands, hunting and gathering, but gathered at turns of the season to trade, socialize, party, exchange information and grind pine nuts. He says he was digging a levelling sink (depression dug in a campground site for a trailer tire to sink into) there once and dug up an Indian metate -- says there's lots of Indian artifacts buried in the Eastern Sierra, obscured by DWP maintenance practices. This may be true, may be a myth.

Iron Staircase Over Barbed Wire Fence

Between the Campground and the town are several interconnected footpaths lined with washstones. According to a jogger from the town, most of them developed from local custom, and recently were renovated and extended by a local Boy Scout as part of a service project for earning Life Scoutship. Some of the paths branch out to the Independence Museum and a local park, at least one of them climbs up the alluvial plain, following the creek into Onion Valley. During a self-guided tour one morning, I found this staircase over a fence, but don't know the story of its construction.