Once upon a time in a forest far away four friends went on a hike and took a swim in the chilly waters of Deep Creek. They may have been millennials but still knew how to respect this gorgeous planet of ours and enjoyed an epic summers day in nature while being responsible adults. They didn’t tag the rocks like gangstas. They didn’t leave a pound of trash behind them and they basically enjoyed a day at the creek without acting like horrible human beings. This fairytale happened way back in the day no not in medieval times, not that far back with knights and joists and mead but in 2005 when I was twenty-five years old. Yes, you did hear me right; I was a responsible twenty-five-year-old working adult who knew better than to throw my trash on the hiking trail or throw my water bottle or Heineken beer cans in the manzanita bushes. This may have been way back in the day before iPhones and the Snapchat but as a young adult my friends and I were smart enough to know to respect these wildlands. What the hell happened to the youths? Did their brains never develop properly from all the technology-ing? I honestly just cannot fathom how human beings can be this downright stupid. And yes, we are human beings, not animals. I expect other hikers to be slightly smarter than my dog and not shit in the middle of the trail.
Yes, when I was twenty-five before the internet made the best places in the forest common knowledge Aztec Falls was a swimming hole that only locals knew of. When our group of friends would hike to Aztec Falls on a hot summer afternoon we would run into other people we went to high school with, our favorite teachers and neighbors. Aztec Falls was so popular with the locals and you never saw people from outside our mountain communities there. The litter was not bad and the rocks were not graffitied. This was in the year 2005 when there was so much less graffiti all over southern California.
This might all sound crass but this is a true story, not a fairytale from the last time I ventured to Aztec Falls, a popular swimming hole in the San Bernardino Forest that has been all over the local news this past week. Aztec Falls at Deep Creek is now closed to the public for the first time ever. Every day recently there have been fifty to two hundred sunbathers, hikers and littering trashy snow pigs descending on this once upon a time hidden swimming hole. Yes that’s right humans. This is why we can’t have nice things. Like nature. Because the Snow Pigs have destroyed Aztec Falls and polluted Deep Creek so terribly a 2.5 stretch of Deep Creek (You know, the fun part) will be closed for the next year. As a hiking guide this destroys my business and my sister-in-law’s hiking business.
My sister-in-law Echo leads guided hikes multiple times a week to Aztec Falls. She even took a blind dude on a hike here which is insane to me as that last hill leading down to the creek is intense and I can’t imagine leading a blind person down that severe descent. But my sister in law and I put ours all into being professional hiking guides. We pick up bags of garbage on every hike, especially to the trashed Deep Creek area. Just two days ago my sister in law hiked at Aztec Falls, packed out six bags of garbage and she said that didn’t even make a dent in the mess! It’s just so ridiculous as much as I truly adore the creek (Seriously a lot of people used to just refer to me as Creek Girl in my twenties) I think the best thing to save this wilderness is just to close it off to the masses. I hope the forest service finds a way to police this area eventually when they do reopen Deep Creek.
Here we are, seventy days into a pandemic and people are getting stir crazy. It seems like here in southern California people stayed safe at home for the first week and now the Los Angeles freeways are packed with traffic again. Everyone is at Trader Joe’s buying organic kombucha and gluten-free hummus. With th gyms still closed for God knows how long, every metropolitan hiking trail is just packed with outdoor exercisers. I think it is awesome that so many people want to get outside and explore the outdoors but living in a resort town, all of us locals see daily the way our forest is being trashed. This is not wilderness Disneyland and Mickey fucking Mouse is not going to scurry up behind you and pick up your Monster energy can you just threw into the Buck’s Brush! I normally spend a lot of my free time picking up litter and broken sleds all winter long but with the threat of Coronavirus I personally want to not expose myself to other people’s germs. I personally think there must be a special place in hell reserved for people who trash the wilderness like this and I’m hoping and praying it looks like the inside of a porta-potty because being locked in a stinky porta-potty for all of eternity is what these snow pigs deserve for trashing our wild places. Are people really this stupid to think you can just leave your dirty diapers and bloody tampons on the trail and a fairytale raccoon or Snow White and her seven dwarfs are going to come to clean up your shit?
Not just Deep Creek but all over California our wild places are being invaded by irresponsible humans who leave their beer cans, diapers and human feces behind them. From the San Bernardino Mountains to Mammoth Lakes California people just don’t seem to understand stay at home.
Don’t drive two hours to your nearest mountain range and start illegal campfires, throw your dirty diapers in our pristine creek beds and leave your shit on the trail for my dog to sniff! Stay at home does not mean you should drive to your local mountain range where there are no public restrooms open and no campgrounds or hotel accommodations available. Besides the terrible trash situation so many campers are making illegal campfires and springtime is very windy in our local mountains.
Two weeks ago I hiked to Aztec Falls at Deep Creek with my sister in law. Now Aztec Falls has never been my favorite place to creek (Relaxing at a bubbling brook with one’s loved ones, perhaps with an ale in a can, not glass in one’s hand) as it’s usually a big drunken redneck party. When I was twenty-five we used to call this redneck yacht club because it kind of looked like a country song but set at a creek (Drunk pregnant girls smoking cigarettes while their tattooed boyfriends burped and flung Miller High Lite cans into the pristine creek) But my sister and law and her two sisters wanted to go to the redneck party at Aztec Falls so I was outvoted. On the hike into Aztec Falls I saw at least twenty beer cans we planned to pick-up on the hike out. I counted at least twenty boulders that were tagged and I was just amazed what kind of people would trash such a pristine place?
I don’t spend as much time at the creek as I used to when I lived very close to this watering hole. I moved further away from Deep Creek and further into the wilderness five years ago and these days I rarely make it back to that swimming hole. Any time I do, I feel like my heart is being ripped from my chest seeing the destruction to this wilderness. How on earth are people this stupid, this lazy and this uncaring? I honestly do not understand how you would go to such a pristine and wild place and destroy it with your laziness.
I always say all the time in the past three or so years how Donald Trump and his words make me embarrassed to be an American. I feel like other Californians make me embarrassed to say I’m a Californian when I see the way they treat this state like a toilet. Besides third world countries I have never seen a wild place be turned upside down and destroyed with trash and human feces along the trails and in the headwaters of Deep Creek. It’s absolutely ridiculous. This is Lake Arrowhead in Southern California; This isn’t a uber poor area like Mumbai where people shit on the side of the road and bathe and launder their clothes in the rivers. There is no reason for our wild places to look so third world disgusting dirtied in California.
How to adult in nature
Now I know some people may understand how to adult and how to not treat the forest as a toilet but it seems like a lot y’all are a little dumb. Here is a shortlist of how to not destroy the planet.
- Don’t throw your beer cans in the creek. Your mommy is not here to clean up after you. Don’t be a pig.
- Don’t leave your trash at overflowing trash receptacles. Hello? There is a pandemic roaring through this world. Forest rangers are also working from home and no one is emptying those overflowing trash cans! This means when you leave your Mcdonalds junk food trash in the forest trash can the bears and the raccoons spread your garbage into the forest at night.
- Don’t throw your orange peels in the Manzanita bushes. It actually takes orange peels six months to decompose. Before the Coronavirus I used to pick up orange peel pieces all the time but now I just feel like they are extra germy.
- Don’t drop banana peels on the trail. It takes two years for a banana peel to decompose. Until then, it’s just trail trash.
- If you really think it’s okay to leave a dirty diaper in the wilderness maybe you are too stupid to procreate.
The Deep Creek I know is gone. I used to fish out of these waters. I used to spend half my summer swimming at Three Ponds after a strenuous hike uphill to the best-hidden swimming hole. In southern California. There are still hidden swimming hole hikes that the masses, so far don’t know about. Thank God I have these graffiti-free hidden paradises to get out into the woods and away from the dumb-dumbs who roam this once pristine planet of ours.