Cowiche Mountains

As a last post of 2010, I think this year has left many of us with the understanding that we best trust in God and ourselves. Many of our Brothers and Sisters seem to know only the easy roads, they refuse to travel a road with more than a stone in the way….. We know where these roads lead.

As I reflect I think of the beautiful Cascade Mountain Range. It’s full of surprises, in the spring and early summer the hillsides are like one big flower garden. I love to spend at least a week a year up in the mountains exploring. My most reliable trail companion thus far has been my wife, We have traveled together covering as much as 20 miles in a day with some trails steep and in less than good condition. All she demanded on the trail was fresh water to bath, and to wash the dust and grit from her hair at the end of the day.

Even when I am alone, I find there’s never a boring moment in the mountains, it might take a week or more for that feeling of having stayed too long to arrive. I think it is only brought on by guilt for not having done some thing back home like fix the chimney or make some other timely or promised repair.

My favorite part of the mountains lies above and beyond a small bend in the road called Tampico, Washington. Here there are forests and open meadows…. springs, streams and favorable weather. You even find cactus in places.  After 30 plus years roaming the hills there are still flowers I don’t know the name of, and shrubs and bushes too. It was just a few years back I saw our only boa constrictor, I’m sure most Washington residents have no clue we have one.

Rubber Boa find on a ridge top near 4500 feet elevation


Some years back, I had read that Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas had been infatuated with the same mountains and valleys I have come to know.  Not more than 25 miles to the east of my cabin; Bill Douglas was raised and spent much of his time here. You can find his book “Of Men and Mountains”.  It’s a classic memoir of wilderness adventure and it’s a worth while addition to your collection of books that might prepare you for more self sufficient living.

His book is rich with notes on the area’s Geology, Plants, Animals, Local Indian customs, what they ate, Indian lore, Indian history, fishing for trout, a big section on food prep, encounters with sheep herders and packers in the high country, and much more. Bill tells of his impressions of trails and camps I have visited, and of forrests that were much different in his time. He was on the trails before I was born, a much simpler time, but not times of plenty. One note to DIYers on biofuels, Justice Douglas talks about food prep, and there’s info on what whites and Indians ate in the area. One thing Justice Douglas mentions is “Bear Oil”, highly prized by Indians and Whites of the area, and especially good to fry trout in. Douglas reports one big bear rendered 30 gallons of oil! If we transesterified that, we’d have lights after dark for an hour for the entire winter.

I’m sure this is a  book that I will always own, and I’ll reference it often. I found the number ISBN 1-58574-396-8 if you are interested.

I think it’s important to note that we can do all the responsible and expected things and still not fair so well. We can save money only to see it devalued and inflated by those we elect to office, and now some we don’t elect.  We can see our savings earn no interest through the government’s manipulation of interest rates robbing us of earnings on our savings.  At the end of the day we might ask.. what is it that can’t be taken from us?

My answer might be…. “good times spent in the mountains”.

Happy new year!

George B.

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