Friday, January 11, 2013

Cot Creek - May 2012

Winter sure does like to linger, especially in our godsend-Cascades.  We of the wild-persuasion tend to sit and sulk under leaden winter skies, dreaming of the Big Thaw - a yearly miracle.  But even the welcome warmth contains a drop of  the next season, when it all goes back to sleep.

Itching to get out, but pushed down into the lower elevations, Don, Randy and I head into a very early mountain spring.  May in Oregon just means the snow left an hour ago.

Olallie Butte still blanketed

Of course, a camp without trails is no fun at all.  "Back Then", a first class trail climbed up the mountain, heading for the deep forests and high country, ducking through meadows and passing lonely cabins.

Along Cot Creek, we have seen the passing of Man, Machine, Domestic Beast, and Fire.  Loggers have taken a more than ample swath from ridges, but new wilderness designation has protected a patchwork of old growth and clearcuts - preserving fire-regenerated forest and a maze of abandoned roads.  Wilderness designation has also protected the vast and incredible Roaring River Wilderness, a land with very little damage in spite of it all.

Trail 705 has graced these slopes for some time, and lies largely forgotten, in spite of its still active status.  Its lowermost section has been lost to clearcuts.  Fortunately, the higher reaches are largely intact.

Otherwise, it is still 1928 out there along #705.

The Green Mother always tries to reclaim her own.  It is an eternal struggle to maintain a linear path.

But we give it our damnedest.

Out of the woods and into the glacial bowl summit, the cold winter still blows.  Large snowdrifts block the road; it will be another few weeks before it all melts out - and bringing clouds of mosquitoes under the warm blue heavens.

The trail has been bisected by another unfortunate clearcut at the base of a large series of meadows.  This clearcut divides the trail into two isolated sections, much like early interstate highways divided neighborhoods as they split their way through old city blocks.  Each year, we get closer to restoring this lost stretch, working from both ends to meet in the middle like Promontory Point.

With the snow and weather, we can go no further.  Time to head back to camp, I can hear a beer calling.

poorly recovering forest of lodgepole pines and firs

What happened to the old axe that cut this blaze?

that's the ticket

and a meal fit for royalty, or crows

Our camp really isn't much of one.  In the pre-roaded days it was just another nameless ridgeside.  Then came the roads, followed by big trucks heavy with ancient timber.  One day, the creek decided to wash out the bridge, putting a stop to all this foolishness.

In spite of a 100 yard linear berm constructed by a most eager heavy-equipment operator, the end of the road is beginning to grow into a mediocre camp.  In another 20 years, perhaps the scars will have healed.  But it's good enough for 3 bums.

"Contains no whiskey?"

And the night falls on another adventure.
So we eat galactic technicolor psychedelic steaks and howl at the clouds.

Good night!

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