After hitting snow on the southern mountains of the Illinois Valley, we headed northwest towards the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Our destination was the first place I went back in the 90s in order to kick off my own journey getting clean. It was a place I had used to help other friends get clean as well. I associate this spot with the end of my darker days, and the beginning of my new life – I wanted to share this with the kid.
We spent 2 cold nights and 3 blisteringly hot days at Diamond Creek. There are almost no trees along the creek or its campgrounds or its swimming holes. If there is a tree, it is most likely the same size as you, or it is a craggy snag of its former self. In other words, it’s a tree that provides no shade whatsoever. The creek is what saves the place – the crystal clear swimming holes, waterfalls, and secret shady spots as the creek winds its way through an unforgiving, rocky landscape.
At Diamond Creek, you spend your days baking in the sun and cooling in the water. The sun is so hot you feel like you might cook, and the water is so cold you feel like you will freeze. You’re stretched between these two extremes. You feel dirty. You feel sweaty. So you recognize that, at the very least, you’re going to have to stick your feet in the ice cold water, and possibly, eventually, your entire body. Your only relief from the heat and dirt is to freeze in the fresh snow melt.
We spent two days hiking up the canyons and down the dirty roads, and we were finally able to get some great drone flights over the pools and waterfalls, making for some footage that I think represents the experience that is Diamond Creek. The trees are small and craggy, the rocks sharp, and the water clear and flowing. It’s an appropriately conflicted environment.
I really can’t put into words why Diamond Creek has such an impact on me. The kid seemed to get it, and he was a little indifferent about leaving. I think he would have been pretty happy to stay another couple nights. (The only reason I was in a hurry to leave was that I had hit something up underneath the car on the way in, and I wanted to get it looked at before the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Otherwise I would have been fine with staying too.)
If nothing else, time at Diamond Creek lets you know you are alive. It wears you out and invigorates you all at the same time. There is nobody out there, and it provides some great time and space for reflection. Our three days out there made an impact on the kid, and it produced some good videos and photos for Drone Recovery as well. For me, it was important to go back there early on in our journey and to help invoke some the same energy I used to kicked my own ass into shape 20 years ago.