Wednesday, April 01, 2009


The Washington trail system is over-rated and over-used. How can one consistently derive pleasure from hiking trails full of suburban pot-bellied refugees huffing and puffing to get a view of Mount Rainier? How many times can you possibly look at that over-grown mass of rock and ice? I have found that in order to enjoy a real outdoors experience where I can be alone and commune with my surroundings, I need only to venture to the nearest area of clearcut logging. The trouble with forests is that there are too many trees. Trees block both the views and the sun - when it decides to make an appearance. There is nothing so awesome as looking out at an open and expansive landscape that has been thoroughly denuded of vegetation. The scenery is somewhat surreal, recalling post-World War I Europe. There is a certain romanticism to this beauty. Occasionally a lone raven will fly over the cut area. In Native American religion, the Raven creates. How ironic it is to watch this bird soaring over the altered landscape. How can you not admire the power of man over nature when you hike through one of these areas? Clearcuts of old growth forests are the most awesome. To see a tree over 1,000 years old come toppling down is an incredible experience. It is especially assuring to know the tree won't be wasted. It will end up as a cabinet in Tokyo or a beam in a Long Island cottage. I like to hike through clearcuts in National Forests. These are our forests and it is reassuring to see they are being managed wisely. What a waste to keep these big, old trees standing. Not only are they performing no economic good, but I can't see a damn thing when I hike through them. Clearcuts are great wildlife viewing areas as well. In forests, you can never see the bear, elk or owls. But in a clearcut you can see animals everywhere. Once I saw a huge flock of starlings land on a grove of stumps. What a shame it would have been if an eagle came by to harass them. Once I camped out with some friends in a clearcut area that was not too far from the Interstate. All night we could hear the cars and the semis buzzing by. The constant lull of the traffic put us to sleep. This experience stood in such a contrast to camping by water - usually the babbling of streams keeps me tossing and turning. The second night we were out we decided to bag some game to add to our experience. We were able to shoot a marbled murrlet that had returned looking for its nest in a freshly logged tree. What luck! We cooked him up and he wasn't too bad. Tasted a little like spotted owl. If I ever get lost while hiking in a clearcut area I just follow my beer cans out. If you are bored on the return and you can't find any small mammals, the cans make for good target practice. Clearcuts are rapidly being reforested in this state and they are getting harder and harder to find. Bleeding heart environmental commie pinkos are screaming that logging is destroying the earth. I saw no evidence for their exaggerated claims. I even saw a salmon in the silt of a stream running through a clearcut area. I know the big timber companies have my best interests in mind when they put up those neat signs along the roads that say, "Our forests are working for you!" We need to stop putting so much land in preserves where my recreational opportunities are so limited and start allowing for more cuts. Think of all the new views that would be created. When hillsides erode out and slash piles up, it only adds to the excitement of the clearcut adventure. There are so many good uses for trees I can't understand why any one would consider letting them stand. Write to your representative and demand that more cutting take place. Our state will be more beautiful and our planet a warmer place to hike. Think of it, a longer hiking season. Grab your chainsaw and go take a hike!
Oh yeah- And April Fools!!!!!
Thanks to Kim Brown for digging this article up-one I wrote for the UW Daily back in 1996 when I was a graduate student. I consider it one of my classic articles from my three year stint with the Daily.

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