Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Working on an Old Clackamas Trail - January 2012

Even after all these years, it still amazes me that just an hour from the city lies an incredibly varied and ancient ecosystem, fed by plentiful rain and countless cascading rivers.  It feels like home, and brand new all at once.

Despite the press, Portland Oregon is a small, mildly liberal, and incredibly friendly city.  It does rain a lot here, the stereotype is no joke.  But other than occasional mid summer zaniness, Portland is "early to bed, early to rise".  Maybe it's the rain that does it - perhaps that explains the profusion of coffee shops.
What really makes Portland unique are these temperate rainforests, making the gradual transition from coastal jungle to sagebrush desert.  Without this stunning diversity at our backdoor, Portland would seem rather ordinary.  We also have an intense history of volcanic activity here, with most of the Cascade high peaks active volcanoes.  Most of the landmass of the state of Oregon was created by cataclysmic eruptions from the dawn of time to just a couple of decades ago, as witnessed by Mt. St. Helens blowing her top, again.  But nothing is lost, all is seed for the future.  Even the soil is enriched by this frequent activity.  Annual forest fires, volcanoes, earthquakes, and logging on a massive scale make these wild lands incredibly active and tumultuous.  Even the plants themselves conspire to change and eradicate new marks on the land within decades. 

But from Portland, you'd never quite realize all this takes place, with our neatly manicured lawns and tidy neighborhoods.  A trip to the woods is like travelling to another dimension; these 2 dissimilar worlds have little in common with each other.  Portland is an old industrial center, where foundries and logging and shipbuilding made Portland a keystone in a great empire.  The only clue of these Cascade places is the sometimes visit of Mt. Hood and St. Helens on a clear blue summer day, tucked away behind light poles and used car lots.

Not far from the 49th Parallel, Portland boasts short winter days and long summer nights.  Come join us as we explore and clear an old trail that was once an artery into an incredible backcountry.  Due to progress and the march of time, much has changed.  But often, today's most obscure place was once a hub brimming with history.  Often the past has been saved in spite of our society's best intentions.

 All roads lead from Estacada
(once, it was "all trails")

This old trail was once main street.  Abandoned for 70 years, it has been quite difficult to locate, and even more difficult to maintain.  The terrain is steep, the soil is rocky and crumbly, and old growth trees often tip over in this unstable place.  For the past six years we have been hacking a path along this old route.  Due to the dense jungle and profusion of poison oak and ticks, the trail is best visited in the winter.  Wild winter storms and high winds toss the trees about, making yearly maintenance a necessity.  

 Don hard at work

 Clear, until next year



 making the chips fly from this old stump

 Tools of the trade - that is, hard physical work

 Attacking a recently downed cedar


 Piece of the past - an old phone line insulator from the 1930's

 100 years ago, a bridge crossed this gully

 Can you find the piece of the past on this ancient tree?

 Another old phone line insulator, a rare glass relic

Into the setting sun on a very nice winter day.  May all the trails be as clear!
Now into town for a fresh beer and warm conversation to ease tired muscles.
MMMmm beeerrrr.....

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