Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Smoky Mountains

My time in the Cascade Mountains is almost over.  Tomorrow morning I leave for home.  Fires burn on all sides; air smells of smoke, visibility less than a mile.  Each day I have found places to escape; now smoke seems everywhere.  I leave you with a few pictures and notes from the last few days. 

Lillian Falls, deep in the Waldo Lake Wilderness and seldom visited, its mossy sides clothed in green moss. 
an old log in green velvet
climbs up the middle
defying the roar
she follows at his waist
adopting his garb
would not be there otherwise   

Lone jeep on a forest road
far from help
she’s forgotten where
and when
but not the trees
the little bird
that didn’t fly away    

Not a fire, but a sunbeam
pinhole in foliage far behind
lights upon a rotting tree
guides to where she’s going
and tries to understand  

these smoky mountains
march away
each rank  less distinct
until the last is hazy memory  

I remember Marilyn Lake
winter six years ago 
when I was young
future shrouded in snow
colors under white
hard yet pliable
but not like this

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Fire and Snow

Forest fires still plague much of Oregon with smoke, and Oakridge is no exception.  I left town at 5am  to get up to the crest of the Cascade Mountains, onto the Pacific Crest Trail early, because smoke is worse in the afternoon.

Bears and fires roam these mountains.

Some folks travel light
The Pacific Crest Trail runs all the way from Mexico to Canada and passes near Oakridge along the crest of  the Cascade Mountains.  A few people hike the entire distance in one summer, but this guy won’t go that far with all the stuff he’s carrying. 

Snow falls very deep here, and the trail is not visible in winter, so  rangers have put these blue tags on trees to guide winter travelers.  You can see from my walking pole leaned on this tree how high the tags are—about fifteen feet.  They must have carried a ladder.

Tags are nailed to the trees leaving room for the tree to grow in diameter, as shown in the left picture.  In the old days, trails were marked with blazes—vertical cuts, chopped with an ax.  This one is completely healed.

In February of 2011 the snow was about eight feet deep and impossible to walk on without sinking.  I used Nordic skis then, and was guided by the blue tags.

See the blue tag in this picture.

These snow pictures are from the same section of trail that I hiked this week.   

After 4 miles, we come to Lower Rosary Lake, where in one direction, clear air gives the mirror view we expect from a compliant lake.  In another direction, smoke paints the hills with another beauty, portentous of the natural end of many trees.  

Ducks having breakfast on the lake.  See one of them diving.  

We come next to Middle Rosary Lake, with backpackers camped on the far side.  They even carried a rubber boat all the way up here.   

An old Douglass fir lost its top many years ago and would have died, except for a few branches that were still alive below the break.  You can see the break way up there above the foliage that now almost obscures it.  These branches became like the senses of hearing, feeling and intuition that have taken the duties of sight, akin the top of a tree, and made it their task to grow three new tops.    

Friday, August 25, 2017

Larison Rock

Willamette River in Oakridge, Oregon

The hike to Larison Rock was difficult in the winter of 2011—rain in Oakridge at the start, snow after a 2000-foot climb.  I trudged in snow shoes then and never made it to the top (picture at left).

Yesterday, with perfect summer weather, the climb was pure pleasure.

Old growth Douglas fir, western red cedar, and mountain hemlock—all mix with the young folks, in what looks like good cross-generation conversation. 

healing wounds with sap
that finally clots
before trees invented bandages

A healthy-looking Douglas fir, quite active in her old age.  But on her side, the fruiting body of a fungus disease—a conk.  Her insides are filled with spongy rot, and though she can live long and full, she’s no good for lumber.  Even a logger would say, might as well let her stand for the beauty she has left.  Past her prime in the marketplace, she’s still got spunk.  

Fires are burning on all sides of Oakridge; they have been for the past week.  Yesterday, when I arrived, the air was too smoky to see for even a mile.  Today, the wind has changed, and it’s a perfect day for a hike to where, sometime in the past few years, this area, too, was in flames. 

She grew up with birth defects that
left her ugly to casual glances
she coped and grew tall
prosperous as her peers
perhaps now she gets a little admiration.

You pushed me down the hill
back then
limber young and only six feet tall
but I turned myself around
and now stand tall and straight
did you notice?  

“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain”
 and I believed I’d see your face again.

(Left picture is from March 8, 2011)  

The trail

 (Left picture is from March 8, 2011)  

Wind blew
the weak lost their heads

it appears the tallest did
the most prosperous. 

A flower in the forest and tree foliage in the sunlight.  It’s hard to say which is more lovely.

Larison Rock, a 2,400-foot climb, seven miles from the start.

Night Ladder by Lois P Jones, on the tip of Larison Rock 

Alien fossil
Fish out of water


Great tree foleage

It’s a tree, my lord, growing out of rotten log, or is it a rabbit?