From the cabin in the Cascades of Washington State
   
Cabin in the woods.

Now is the season of the hunter, for deer, bear and elk in Wenatchee National Forest where this cabin stands among Ponderosa pine trees three feet in diameter. Deer, elk and coyote walk nearby during my sleeping hours, leaving signs that cannot be mistaken, droppings indicating ownership as distinctly as a signature. Deer and coyote spent the summer among complacent bovines that overrun the fragile forest topsoil but the elk only arrived from higher elevations in mid-October. Where the bear are I care not to discover.

We cut fallen trees for heater fuel. Some were felled by lightning and more by an ice storm a year ago. Bringing in wood from outside the forest is forbidden. Hauling wood and pine cones for daily fires, cutting branches with my lopper keeps me in shape as well as any fitness center, but I won't tell if you don't.

No More For Average Citizens
Fifty years ago small tracts were leased for a fee under $100 to private citizens as cabin sites to open national forests for extended public uses. The hundred-year lease has since been reduced to ten-year with a one- year notice to vacate. The cabins cannot have a foundation nor can they be permanent residences. Out-buildings are to be kept to a minimum and other restrictions and rules apply. There is electricity but no other indoor amenities. We haul water from a spring two miles away.

Before the change to a ten-year maximum, leases around Rimrock Lake sold for as much as $70,000. And I can understand why. Away from Tieton Road the forest absorbs all noises except for the snap of a twig under my foot or the warning call of a bird or chipmunk. Ponds glisten at the slap of beaver tails.

Rimrock Lake is an artificial lake, taking its name from the volcanic ridges below Mount Rainier. The spring snowmelt backs up behind a dam designed to prevent flooding on the Tieton, Naches, and Yakima rivers. It is shallow enough for wading near the road but too cold from year round icy waters off Mount Rainier, to dip a toe in, if you ask me.

Water skiers and ski mobiles ply the summer waters, three wheelers and off-the-road vehicles spin in the mud after the autumn draw-down of the water level. A friend calls that activity a result of testosterone overload. Maybe so, but those people, I think they are mostly men, are only reacting to the propaganda they're subjected to from birth.

Timber, Timber
The traffic is mostly trucks, pickups, some with campers or trailers, jeeps and other four-wheel-drive vehicles. Weekdays truckers haul logs out with six trucks, at least two loads in any given hour, with twenty thirty-foot logs, on roads built with our tax dollars. When the area where the company is now cutting is projected to last only a year, I wonder if the cabin leases will be ordered to vacate? I can picture loggers lusting after these lovely pines.

I'm sure a lumberman can look at a hundred-foot tree and translate its value into dollars very quickly. And it seems to be translated into actual dollars with alarming speed these days and with Forest Service approval. All in the interest of good management of our natural resources of course.

   
 

Consider novels by Naomi Sherer available on Amazon

Sagesong cover Rise to the Occasion cover
Coming Soon: Beyond Namche, The Open Door, Wildly in the Rockies

 

Copyright 1997 Naomi Sherer - All Rights Reserved

 

 

 


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