Took a hike on the Salmon Summit Trail sometime this summer. Aside from the wildfire smoke in the air (and the sinus ache), it was a nice stroll through the ‘green’ part of the Trinity Wilderness (there are also white and red parts, in order just like the Italian flag).
There appeared to be an old fire line at the top of the ridge, with a couple ridge top trees showing assumed heat damage.
Walking through the Douglas-fir forest was a nice contrast to the summer spent in the dense redwood forest. I get a little snap happy when I can see more than 10 feet down a trail.
During my first few years working in the redwoods, I would return home to Indiana (albeit in the dead of winter) and scoff at the barren brown landscape. I even went to a patch of Indiana’s coveted old growth with my jaded eyes and wasn’t awed. But after spending six seasons working in the redwoods, and returning to Indiana when it had leaves, I found an appreciation for less dense forests–ones you can actually stroll through without fear of being swallowed by sword ferns or having to climb over or walk around a log 12 feet tall.
After the subsidence of my forest snobbery, I still grapple with the notion of ‘touched’ versus ‘untouched,’ with the sinking feeling deep in my stomach that there are very few places left that a modern-soled boot hasn’t touched. It is often hard to refrain from judging a place’s ecological degradation, having a human brain that dwells on comparisons. But as Aldo Leopold scribed:
“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
…okay, I’m not fully that cynical, yet. My outlook has brightened up a little since a black bear has returned to southern Indiana and has not yet been shot (I had a professor in college claim bears would return in 10 years…10 years ago!). A wolf pack has also started to form in northeastern California without casualties. It also seems as if the forest understory in Brown County State Park has recovered some from deer overbrowsing.
I suppose there might be hope yet…