Friday, July 2, 2004
A late-afternoon trip to Reader Ridge yielded some rare delights, delights not so difficult to find a few years ago, but nevertheless, becoming more infrequent in many areas of this world.
We saw the "green camp," an old delivery wagon on an old Model A chassis used as a sheep camp for years and years. Lately, its been used as a community yurt and hospitality stop. People would weather storms inside pr stop off during a hunt to find a stash of viennas, candy bars and other such camp food. You were only expected to leave a note saying who took what, and on one's next visit, to replace the item. Most of the time, my sources say, it worked.
The Forest Service has decided that the green camp is a blight on the land, unfit to remain in this beautiful place. It must be removed entirely, they say, or large fines will be levied on the grazing permit holders. Apparantly, the self-appointed governmental stewards don't think human history and community belongs in the wild places of the earth, and I count it as a shame among many other greater shames being perpetrated upon our wilderness in the name of management and high-minded opinion.
During our walk, we saw a beautiful buck just up the trail from us. He just stood, watching us watch and snap photos of him for a couple of long, beatific minutes before bounding off, out of sight.
The crowning event of the day was a gigantic herd of elk cows and calves. We caught sight of it as they began running across the base of the hill to avoid us, just inside a line of trees. The herd took at least a minute to pass completely, leaving us breathless and enrapt by cow calls and voices that accompanied the movement,perhaps meant to keep the calves from lingering to investigate the strange two-legged creatures down the hill.
Their smell and occasional sounds kept us riveted to the possibility of catching sight of them as a herd once more. Neither of us had seen so many elk in a long while on this mountain, and we were happy to see a herd so healthy in these lean water and high-intensity and length hunt years.
We didn't see them as a group again, though the hike was certainly not spoilt by that small disappointment. In a way, it kept us in our place, grateful recipients of a small glimpse of their beauty in their place, feeling very blessed while wishing for a little more as we left for our own homes down in the valley.