The water is clear and cold and there is no life, at least none that I can see, but the place is still interesting. The water stings my exposed cheeks, and ice crystals elevate pebbles on the shore. The stream scape is new, different for me. The bottom is angulated fractured bedrock that hasn’t had the time to get worn smooth by the water. A recent small avalanche put two boulders, a log and some moss into the middle of the small creek, and a large pile of leaves accumulated on the bottom of the lee side of the stream, over a small sand bar. The creek is tiny, barely 6 feet wide and I figure this is probably a first order stream. Streams are defined by size. A first order stream has no tributaries. A second order steam forms when two first order streams come together. A third order stream forms when two second order streams come together, and so on. Based on its tiny size, shallow nature and slow flow, I assumed Hungry Mother Creek was first order and while it was small and without any fish I could see, it was still interesting based on landscape and legend.
Hungry Mother got its name from the story of a female settler, Molly Marley and her small child who were captured by Native Americans after they destroyed encroaching European settlements in the area. Molly and her son eventually escaped and when the young boy was found wandering down the creek all he could say was “hungry mother”. A search party found his mother dead along the creek I was snorkeling in, maybe even at this spot.
We have, and still do, treat each other like crap. It’s no wonder we treat our environment the same. The tragedy of this place, perpetrated by both Native Americans and Europeans, gives the stream an unsettled feel. The lack of fish adds to the graveyard ambiance. But I don’t think the lack of life is due to abuse. It’s cold and I think things have hunkered down for the winter. I imagine this place is pretty different in summer, when the creek is full of fish and the valley full of humans enjoying the park named for this legend. I hope I get the chance to come back and snorkel here when it’s warm.