A man's choices, living out of his true story, impact others. A wildness within, a redemptive wildness, goes with us, contributes to the larger hopes, the bigger picture. A sacred wildness, flowing like Rolling Creek, a real place. Real, like you, me, us, the community we embrace.
Guys have gone before us, have been in the wilderness due to their calling, mountain creeks running through their veins mixed with their blood that drove them into the unknown. I want to learn about them, learn from them, with hopes I will be able to teach others along my way, along my “wilderman’s journey”.
Mr. Marshall came around in 1901. WOW! ‘Turn of the century. Not the one we are in now; but the century before this one. A redemptive haunting came to Bob Marshall from Alaska. It would make sense that his book came about from his years of immersion there, an unprecedented wild place. As you can see, he kept everything he needed in a small backpack. I hope that you know I am kidding. And here is a FYI: I have a volume entitled Points Unknown: A Century of Great Exploration , a collection of stories published by OUTSIDE BOOKS, includes some of Marshall’s book, Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Central Brooks Range.
Bob Marshall was a forester, a writer. He climbed. Mr. Marshall had a robust appreciation for the Brooks Range, Alaska … and a similar appetite for the Adirondacks. There are 46 peaks in the Adirondacks realm, and Marshall climbed all of them. Actually, he was one of the first to accomplish that feat, with his feet (I thought that might be a decent joke, but I now have my doubts). Another book he wrote was Arctic Village, a 1933 bestseller, which was before my time. Two years later, Marshall became one of the principal founders of The Wilderness Society. And that is about all I have to say now, in my effort to practice some brevity.
Here a small excerpt from his book, found in the collection of stories I referred to above:
“At three in the morning I awoke from the noise of rushing water. It was raining hard when I looked outside and, much to my surprise, I discovered that the water in the quiet slough next to camp had risen almost to the fire, and had become a strong churning current. I moved the cooking pots back to what I though was a safe place, commented casually to Al on the phenomenal rise of the water, and hurried back to bed. Moved by my report, Al took one sleepy look out of the tent and immediately was all consternation. ‘Hurry up!’ he shouted, ‘we’ve got to get out of here quick. The main river’s cutting back of our island and if we’re not damn fast we’ll be cut off from everything.”
And that is more than I meant to bring to this blog-table. Hope you enjoyed this encounter with Mr. Robert (Bob) Marshall, an individual I would respectfully consider a wilderman.
While the Pony Express lives on today as an example of romance, adventure and bravery from the American Frontier, the Express only operated for 18 months – from April 1860 to October 1861. Perhaps most interesting to me is the fact that the “men” were often just teenaged boys, the horses were frequently mules and the riders usually carried business correspondence, sometimes newspapers, but almost never love letters! After all, $5 an ounce was extremely expensive. And, while replacement riders were sometimes unavailable, usually riders traveled less than 20 miles at a time. Legend has it that riders were given rifles, but it was probably a just small pistol or even a knife. After all, rifles are heavy, and every ounce counted when riding for speed.
Riding for speed and keeping weight light, may be where the legend came from that the company posted ads for riders which read: “Wanted:…
I tried something a little different for my first two trees of the season. It was a bad idea. I’m not a skilled lumberjack. In fact, I am not a lumberjack at all. I’m just a wilderman who loves Rolling Creek, in the Pike National Forest, just outside of Bailey. There are two dynamics to wood cutting season: 1) necessity; and 2) its good for my soul.
I have a chainsaw that goes by the name of “Stihl 026”. Its a relatively small chainsaw. When I bought it, used, from a guy with what appeared to be a trustworthy countenance, I felt pretty good about it. I still do. It has served me well. I’m quite thankful for it. The gentleman said that is should serve my purposes sufficiently. I have 1.3 acres thickly populated with evergreens, aspens, the classic lodgepole pines. So, if you look at the compatibility between my chainsaw and the wood cutting that has to happen, there is a bit of tension there. Bottom line? I need a bigger chainsaw: not much bigger, but … bigger. Now, back to my fiasco with my first two trees that I cut down, this season. Here is what happened:
The chainsaw is not as powerful as it once was, I used my axe … chopping down at an angle on all four sides of the tree;
Guide ropes? Yes, usually … but not this time (OOPS!!);
I thought I knew exactly where the trees were going to land;
When time came for each tree to fall, they both got hung up on the branches of another tree, and I had to get my chainsaw;
The trees stood up straight, at first, that is how bad they were caught;
Fortunately, I got both trees to a forward angle enough so I could make another cut, about 4 1/2 feet off the ground;
And, they finally came down…. but not even close to where they were supposed to.
I am afraid that you cannot tell what I am talking about, the mistakes I
made,by looking at the picture above. I knew enough to be safe … but the stump of the tree is positioned beneath the crown of the tree, laying there in the snow. I was relieved to get the trees on the ground. I made a mental list of what I needed to do differently. Experimentation / making mistakes can be somewhat redemptive … we can learn a great deal.
You probably already knew this, but in some forest areas, trees need to be thinned out, if the trees are too close together. Translation: trees don’t grow as well / they are not as healthy if there is not enough room. Some of it is the root systems providing the trees with enough water; some of it is room for the branches to grow; and some of it is getting their fair share of sunlight. And, it makes sense to get the dead trees out, to help the healthy trees. Here is a tree that will need to come down, soon. You might need to expand the picture so that you can see the top, and the branches. I’ve never liked the idea of cutting trees down. I love trees. But because I love trees, I know that the dead ones have to come down, so that we can have a healthy forest. Fortunately, I am equipped with … not only axe and chain saw, but … a decent imagination. And I sometimes think about woodsmen predecessors …
Now, I don’t want anyone to think I am just crazy about cutting trees down. Wood cutting season is just as much about chain sawing the longer logs into shorter logs … which get chopped into smaller pieces of wood for our woo-burning stove. Ideally, I spend a little time each week chopping wood, getting ready for winter.