Wilderman, Bob Marshall … Tribute

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”.

Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Central Brooks Range

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.  File:Bob Marshall camping.jpg  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.


Wood Cutting is Here


Not my fines hour.
Not my finest hour.

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.  

Wish the dog knew how to run the chainsaw.
Wish the dog knew how to run the chainsaw.

 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:

    1. 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;
    2. Guide ropes? Yes, usually … but not this time (OOPS!!);
    3. I thought I knew exactly where the trees were going to land;
    4. 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;
    5. The trees stood up straight, at first, that is how bad they were caught;
    6. Fortunately, I got both trees to a forward angle enough so I could make another cut, about 4 1/2 feet off the ground;
    7. 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.

Don't Crowd the Trees!
Don’t Crowd the Trees!
A Good Tree Died
A Good Tree Died

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.


Wood pile, all summer
Wood pile, all summer



So, there it is.   Peace to you. T


The Duke: Up Ahead On the Trail

“Talk low, talk slow and don’t say much.” 

John Wayne

John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn, “True Grit

An image emerges: John Wayne and a young buck ride on their horses into “an unknown”.  John Wayne, also known as “The Duke”, keeps his eyes on the trail looking for what is ahead, while speaking to the younger one, who … in The Duke’s thinking, he is responsible for.  John Wayne, the mentor, wants to prepare the mentee for what is ahead … both in the immediate scenario and the long term journey.

Now, another image comes to mind of a dad, or a mentor, or both, walking with a younger one … a son, a mentee, a student … both attentive to each other: one teaching / modeling, and the other paying attention to what the younger knows is important, what will be remembered for the trails ahead.

I am immeasurably thankful for good men (the kind that are rare, who will always be remembered) who passed on some wisdom … not because they had to, but because they believed that this what needed to happen, and because I clearly needed to receive what they had to offer, for my own benefit.  And, in the name of tension, I remember … as well … the times where I struggled along the way, encountering the unknown, seemingly alone with no one there at the time to teach me, to guide me.

“Tomorrow hopes we have learned

something from yesterday.”

John Wayne 

My “young buck” status no longer applies, and I continue to grapple with what I call “ambivalence”.  My own definition of ambivalence goes something like this:

“Ambivalence: the existence of two mutually exclusive emotions, thoughts, or concepts.”

I’ve made mistakes.  And “the right thing to do” means: learning from those mistakes; choosing to live not in the past, but in the present with one eye on the future; and releasing any self contempt or bitterness about what has happened behind me.  I want to take care of my horse.  I want to listen well.  I want to “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say much …”, in the words of The Duke.

Change, Elusive and Avoidable

“Change: when something starts or stops; or … when something that happens one way starts happening another way.” Mary Heathmen

One man’s fear:

I will never change. 

Life will always be this way.


One man learned the Law of Inertia, defined as: “An object in motion will continue in motion, unless acted upon by an external force.”  A friend responded to the one man’s fear of changelesness:  “If nothing changes, nothing changes.  But thinking positively about change, acting proactively on the change process, will lead to change.”  To take it one step further, one MUST expect change.  A downhill snow skier moves with the Law of Inertia

No motor, just the Law of Inertia.  Ski poles, a snow-drift, the crossing of one’s skis upsetting balance and momentum … whatever. 

Momentum is huge

and it is positive, or it is negative.  Another man, a different city, a different state, a different time, a different mindset asked himself:

“Why do I need to change? 

If its not broken, don’t fix it.”

Ahhhh, stagnation; absence of momentum If nothing changes, nothing changesThis last quote is indicative of a lack of awareness.  There must be change, on some level.  Not necessarily fixed; but changed, or adjusted.

Change avoidance? Or, change embraced?

Light, in the Night

“Like the lightening … in the sky,
All men … will see Him and will cry, And the veils … will be lifted from our eyes,
‘Singing Glory … Glory most high,
Glory … Glory, most high …” 

Lyrics by Bobby Winter

English: light Bobby Winter: a humble warrior helping street people, punk rockers, prostitutes; he walked with a limp and a transcendent smile, nuanced by a look of mischief.  Bobby sang that song with another fellow, in the great room of a prolific mentor – – – David Hayes.  Now, that was over 25 years ago, you must understand: a big room filled with good people and festivity; excellent food; guitar players; stories; singing. Bobby has gone on, since then, beyond these earthly seasons.  David is still with us.

Lightning BoltsLightening, headlghts, lighthouses, street lamps … illuminating what needs to be illuminated.  Individuals through

Orlando Car Repair Experts

…… song, words, poetry; through sunrise, sunset, illuminating what needs to illuminated.  Fireball, east, bringing in morning; fireball west, calling in dusk, night, stars, full moon.

Moon & Tree
Moon & Tree: photo by Wilderman

 Light piercing, disrupting, night.  A campfire’s sparks fly up and, if you watch them, blend in with the night sky.  Day ended with night, sitting close to hearth and fire, the focus point for family. If only we had those stories that were told, then, in front of the fireplace.  At some point, TV replaced fireplace as the focus point for family to gather.  We are drawn to light … a psychological warmth.  Community has changed in context through generations.

Laptops brought a different light, and families do not gather around that light; for they are more of a solitary thing.  Good light does not die, redemptive light, hope light.  Light speaks life through our words; light disrupts the darkness through our prayers; light brings real hope through acts of service.  Light in our eyes connects with those who need to see the light, through the haze.  There is even light in the Dark Night of the Soul (Written by St. John of the Cross).

St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church.
St. John of the Cross / Photo by Wikipedia
Gerald May wrote: “There are gifts from the dark night, but they come in the morning.”  The honorable man, the honorable woman … they release the light, and others are better off for it.

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”  John 1:5

Righteous Anger, Chase, Restoration

“The game is afoot.”   Sherlock Homes.

‘Not a game, far from it, on the other end of the spectrum.  Race, followed by chase …  a chase that may not be over.  Anger/rage, emotion(s),  have rattled my soul, and two pieces are apparent:   “Don’t mess with the children …”; (quote) “Beware the wrath … of a patient man.”  Unknown

“Connecting the dots”, I consider the good guys, going after the bad guys.  Our warriors balance anger with the methodical, effective, quick chase.  I review my own rough, general, sequence of events:

  1. Bad guys show up;
  2. They do something really, really, bad to hurt folks;
  3. A child dies, two adults die;
  4. Good guys start the process of finding the bad guys.

The process means that anger, rage, are not the point. Instead, it’s about “cause & affect”.

  1. “You did this;
  2. Now, the consequence;
  3. We are coming for you;
  4. We will find you.”

The chase may still be on.  But two bad guys are no longer on the loose.

Something happens (one of the laws of life).  We process what has happened.  We get angry.  We find hope.   And through all this, mourning takes place at different levels, in different ways.  We … figure out what we are supposed to do.  The chase takes place.  We find what and who we are looking for.  And then what?

I don’t know. One thing I do know: I am immeasurably thankful for the good guys,  determined to take care of business.

Life continues;  journey does not stop; story is still being written.  Growth happens; pain fades, peaks; there are good days, bad days; and restoration.  Restoration can be a long process.  Truly, the story is not finished, but still being written.

Men Who Write

Downtown Denver.  I was in my early twenties.  A great deal of building was going on at that time, early morning music of compressors, hydraulic drills, construction workers whistling from way above the concrete at women  on their way to work …

English: my own shot; release under gfdl
The Brown Palace Hotel. The oldest luxury hotel in Denver; opened Aug. 12, 1892.

I started writing around 7am, sounds  breezing in with cool morning air through a 2-3 inch opening of my 2nd floor apartment window; 18th & Grant.  I waited tables at the Brown Palace, the Club dining room, at 17th & Tremont: a block from where I lived.

Evening sounds from my window: a lone singer highly inebriated wandering the streets; sirens chasing fires and crime and drama; ballroom music coming from the Cosmopolitan Hotel at 18th & Broadway.  There are excellent pictures of the Cosmopolitan Hotel Denver at this link … worth your while. http://www.whatwasthere.com/browse.aspx#!/ll/39.7448768615723,-104.987342834473/id/11133/info/details/zoom/14/

I could look out my window to the southwest and see diagonally across the street through a few open windows men (in tuxedos) and women (formal dresses) dancing along with the ballroom music that I could hear … a fascinating irony.  My isolation contrasted with couples dressed to the nines, dancing in a ballroom.  The Cosmopolitan was built in 1926, and taken down (you should check out the 19-second footage on Youtube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfZMqCnJ1fg) … in 2007.  What’s there now? A parking lot.  AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH ! ! ! ! !   I think I’ll do a small post  on the Cosmopolitan Hotel … It was quite a place.  But now … it’s a parking lot.  Sickening.

Since that time, I have been enthralled with books, and authors.  This post is about men who write.

Ernest Hemingway’s writing inspired me.  Over the years, I’ve been more sensitive to the depressive themes of Hemingway’s writings, and read less of his volumes.

Ernest Hemingway Writing at Campsite in Kenya …

From The Old Man and the Sea, ” … ‘I wish I had a stone for the knife’ the old man said after he had checked the lashing on the oar butt.

Ernest Hemingway in Milan, 1918

‘I should have brought a stone.’ You should have brought many things, he thought, but you did not bring them, old man. Now is not the time to think of what you do not have.  Think of what you can do with what there is.”

C S LEWIS IN THE EAGLE & CHILD – OXFORD (Photo credit: summonedbyfells)

C.S.Lewis rocked my world with his blend of imagery, allegory, metaphor, and prolific imagination.  From That Hideous Strength:

Cover of "That Hideous Strength"
Cover of That Hideous Strength

“…’What we have here,’ said Frost pointing to the sleeper, ‘is not, you see, something from the Fifth Century … It is the last vestige, surviving into the Fifth Century, of something much more remote.  Something that comes down from long before the Great Disaster, even from before primitive Druidism; something that takes us back to Numinor, to pre-glacial periods.’ … ‘The whole experiment is perhaps more hazardous than we realised.’ …”

The writers who have gone before us … wow.  We have been given so much to help us know … how to write and how to live.  They have left good stories behind, just as we will also leave good stories behind.  Well, I have over-stayed my welcome … It is time to get back to Rolling Creek.  Peace, T