Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rhododendron Creek - July 2011

Mighty Petey of the Woods

Rhododendron Creek is an interesting place.
  A long drive from Portland, in an area heavily hit by the "cut and run" craze in the '70s and '80s, it is hard to find much of the ancient in the area.  Most historic traces have been obliterated, replaced by huge squares of young "plantation" forest that will be eternally thinned when young and harvested when merchantable, usually after a mere 50 years or less.  It is difficult for a genetically modified cornfield to revert to native prairie, equally so for a monoculture plantation forest to return to late successional.  Unfortunately the cat is out of the bag.  Our wild lands are so fragmented that they must now be managed lest all be lost.
Yes, still interesting believe it or not, in spite of itself.  Or, in spite of us.

  1938, nothing but trails, guard stations, and wilderness

In the late 1950s as roads and chainsaws pushed further up the Clackamas, the old trails were soon forgotten,  relics of an earlier inefficient age.  After logging, most were too fragmented to follow.  Soon, they were gone.

For some reason, Trail #569 following Rho Creek lay dormant and relatively undisturbed, sleeping in it's ancient bed - officially abandoned by the US Forest Service.  Over the past couple of years, Trailadvocates volunteers have relocated and restored this historic trail, and it is now back on the USFS inventory.

#569 follows Rho Creek, switchbacks, then begins a merciless climb to the top of Rho Ridge where it meets another historic trail following the ridgetop.  Starting in lush green riparian old growth and ending above 4000', the trail traverses a variety of habitats and forest types, from wet ancient Douglas firs to crisp lodgepole pines in the higher elevations.  
Our family has been visiting Rho Creek for a few faithful years now.  It has become a special place to us.


  But not all progress is necessarily good: a large new trail sign has brought recent motorcycle damage to the lower section of trail, frustrating me to no end.  As a trail restoration volunteer who has spent many hours working on the Rho Creek Trail, I am indirectly responsible for this damage.  What do we do?  Must we ignore our history and sacred places because of a handful of idiots?  It is not even a good motorcycle trail, being steep and rough with deep creek canyons that must be crossed on logs, dangerous even on foot.  How sad after so much hard work.  

vandal cycle mud ruts diverting a small spring

But not all is lost.

 #569 in the long chilly daylight of a Cascade summer

Cascade trails need frequent maintenance.  Trails through clearcut sections are quickly overgrown in the harsh sunlight.  Soon the path is lost.


After.  Check out that boulder!

One more time.

After.  Man that's a lot of work hacking through that stuff.

 A skink, I think, in the kinickinick

Mt. Hood Lilly

Down the trail and until next time.

1 comment: