Old Growth

Another great week+ of being disconnected, deep in the backcountry, working on trails and soaking up the Wilderness. Perhaps more on that later.

One of the great draws to this area for me was the old growth forest grove through which the Pacific Crest Trail wends its way. Goddess and I made our way through this section after sunset, aware that we were walking among giants, but just not able to see and enjoy them.

Last year when I worked on the trail crew in this area, we were on the other side of the river more than a few miles and I just never had a chance to get to the grove.

This year was different. Goddess dropped me off at the trailhead a couple of days early, so I had time to hike in, camp, and soak it all in by myself, enjoying 48 hours of complete solitude among the giants.

The rest of the week, our commute to/from the work sites took us back through the grove. Needless to say, these are old friends now.

Before the official Wilderness designation for Glacier Peak in 1964, the lumber companies worked hard to establish a foothold in the region. The closest they got was building a road 23 miles long from the nearest highway. The end of the road is the trailhead. Another 9 miles of hiking through rain forest will get you to the grove.

The grove itself sneaks up on you. Surrounded by mile after mile of garden-variety pines, firs, and cedars typically 20-30″ in diameter, you turn a bend and the first 60″ tree surprises you. A few more turns and they keep getting bigger. A few more turns and you’re back among the garden-variety trees. The pictures just won’t do the scale justice.

This is about the best I could do on my own. That’s the PCT tread heading through cleared deadfall. For perspective, that downed tree is about 36″ is diameter. The old growth next to it is significantly larger.

Forest Service estimates are that the old ones are at least 800 years old. Sure, they are small in comparison to the Redwoods of California, but they are still quite impressive. 

And when they pass, they lay a fertile ground for the next generation. 

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3…2…1…

…polo!

It was great to sit back and watch the fellas bash sticks for a few hours.

I was content to watch, although I could have scrounged up a bike and some protective gear. But my previously poor polo skills haven’t been tested in over two years. For everyone else’s safety, it was best that I just call the game and run for wrenches when needed. 

Hello Beautiful 

A glimpse of my favorite mountain in Oregon – Mount Thielsen.

Our drive south gave us a good look at a large portion of the PCT. It’s all still snow-covered, much like the rest of the trail still is. It’s starting to cause safety issues and concerns for all of those hiking the trail this year. We’re hoping that those hikers are making smart, safe decisions. 

— this is the third attempt in over a week to post this from the mobile WordPress app. If you’re reading this, that means I can continue posting. Yay!

Saws, Trees, Pollen, and Mules

It was a fantastic long weekend of saws, trees, pollen, and mules, although not necessarily in that order. The pollen was relentless, coating everyone and everything. 

My experience with the crosscut saws this weekend was great, as it was the refresher training and certification test to use the saws in the forest. I sure do love those saws, listening to them sing as a team clears deadfall from the trail.

It doesn’t hurt that the office views look like this.

Jack Lake reflecting Three Fingered Jack, Deschutes National Forest, Oregon.

We cleared a few simple trees around Jack Lake as we continued up trail. Then we ran into a very dangerous situation right over the junction of three trails. Although this was our test, the professionals handled it while we served as swampers, clearing the area and making sure everything was safe.

Once that mess was cleared and we had lunch, we didn’t get but a hundred yards up the Wasco Lake Trail before we hit another mess right at the snow line.

You can’t see the patch of snow on the other side of those trees, which is the direction from which we hiked in. The continuous snow was right behind me.

The same vantage point a couple of hours later, with two awesome folks also working for certification. 

We ran out of day to get up to Wasco Lake. I wanted to see it again, from a different viewpoint. The last time Goddess and I saw it was from the PCT, which runs right above the lake. This is what we saw that October evening as the sun set behind us and the blue and purple shadows covered Black Butte and the valley beyond.

Certification was a success.

On Saturday night, one of the great local breweries provided interest-appropriate beverage for the volunteers. Needless to say, their support was appreciated. 

Perhaps one of the most intriguing classes I attended covered dealing with stock animals. I needed the class as I will be working on a few different work crews this summer where we need their support to get deep into the backcountry with enough tools and food to make our stay there possible.

These three mules were great to work with as we learned how to approach, handle, and load them for a hike. Their unique personalities made for some interesting moments.

Soon after, we were on the road south. Time for more advetures!

Trail Summer

Hello everyone! It’s time to dust this thing off before we get into the woods.

This week was our opportunity to help the local Washington Trails Association chapter fix some erosion and drainage issues on a trail. The hope was for the trail to endure many more seasons before we would have to touch it up. Locally, we had a long, hard winter. Two months of record-setting rainfall served as bookends to a winter of top-5 recorded snowfall. That meant five months of moisture running across this trail, quickly built last fall to replace a social trail following an old lumber skid road that went straight up the hill.

Here’s Goddess repairing the back slope after the rain and snow melt pushed dirt down and across the trail. That narrows the trail, which leads to other problems later. So it’s best to clear the dirt and keep the trail wide.

Two days later I was back, finishing some drainage issues that I couldn’t finish the other day, then helped reroute more of the trail to give it better drainage. To be sure, the building of new trail is significantly harder than repairing existing trail. One tree is still upright in the middle of the new tread, closely guarding its roots from our digging, prying, and cutting. But the next crew will clear it, I have no doubt.

So this week was a great opportunity to dust off the cobwebs and get the brain rethinking how gravity works and water flows. All in all, a good warm-up to a summer of trail work throughout the region.

This! 2017

Apparently I posted this one year ago today. It’s still relevant, even though I haven’t been around here much lately. It’s not for lack of desire, but my creative work has been focused on writing. Not writing to share here, but writing for school.  So while that’s work, it also scratches my creative needs.

But in just a week’s time, this thesis will be done and I’ll be on break for the summer. Plenty of plans in the works along the lines of this video. Plans that I’m sure will end up here in some form or fashion over the coming months.

Hopefully all is well with all of you.

— — — —

Well worth the four minutes.

His motivation lines up with what led us to this prolonged jaunt that we have been on for over a year now.

This led directly to watching a documentary of a guy that rode his bicycle from the Arctic Ocean (Northwest Territory, Canada) to Argentina.

A man after our own hearts.

Same Procedure as Every Year

Unlike last year, where we had a front row seat to the shenanigans in Cologne, Germany, Goddess and I will be sitting in a quiet house, watching as the next round of 4-6″ of snow falls. No riot police for us this year.

While we lived in Germany, we were introduced to a curious NYE tradition, the annual showing of a TV skit from 1963 called  “Dinner for One“, or more accurately Der 90. Geburtstag. Starting at around dinner time, the skit gets 20 or more showings on various TV channels until midnight.

It’s a fun tradition. Just not one where you should try to keep up with James.

Happy New Year, everyone!