Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 100: Bushwhacking and Enos Mills...

Lately I've been bushwhacking more on these walks. Straying off roads, off trails and exploring how a forest recovers from a devastating fire.

The forest falls apart in sections. Yes, an occasional entire tree falls, but mostly the trees break off from the top down. Half the tree still stands, while the tops fall and decompose.

I ran across a couple of abandoned cars. Without motors.

This Chevy pickup was in pretty good shape. No motor though. You have to be a little careful bushwhacking; pot farms and meth labs are in the area. Supposedly they sometimes booby trap their camps. I very gingerly approached this camp (and then had Angel go first!). A couple of my neighbors never go hiking without a side arm. I think that is more Concow Bluster than anything really necessary.

Enos Mills never went hiking with a gun. Sniffing around the Monastic Dorm's library I found this book from 1919. The book (The Grizzly) interested me because California still had a few Grizzlies in 1919. The last California Griz was killed in 1922.

Simply stated, this book is wonderful! It is a compassionate plea for the conservation of the lower 48's Grizzlies (obviously, the plea was not heeded).

Enos Mills was the founder of Rocky Mountain National Park. He lived in a cabin in what was to become this National Park for forty years. He was a bit of an itinerant and a nature lover. The story goes that Enos wanted to see the Pacific Ocean. He made his way across the west and when he got to the ocean he went to a beach. Perplexed by Kelp, he stopped a stranger on the beach to ask him what it was.

That stranger was John Muir.

This synchronicity started a lifelong friendship between the two. And Muir's influence on Mills writing is evident. Approachable. Descriptive. Kind. Eloquent. Passionate. Informative.

Mills didn't consider the Grizzly to be a dangerous animal. Hence, he trailed Grizzly Bears for days on end, without carrying a weapon. He also believed that the Grizzly Bear's solitariness was an adaptive feature that the bear did in order to survive the wide spread slaughter of his species. Before hunting, Mills believed that Grizzlies were much more social.

Maybe most people are glad that the California Grizzly is gone. We have way too much fear of anything that can kill us (although the Ursus' diet consists of mainly small mammals, roughage and insects). After reading this eloquent book, I am sad that Mills' peers didn't have the foresight to save this creature.

I think the Griz and I could have learned to co-exist on the ridge.


lph said...


Cool find! Peacock, Muir, Bass, and even Meriwether Lewis have all shared great stories about the Grizzly. It is always nice to find a new voice...especially one from 91 years ago.

Griz on your ridge would absolutely change the neighborhood...and your approach to bushwacking:)

greentangle said...

Nice post.

About a week ago, I found a boat in the woods off a trail near the high school. No canoe, mind you, this was the remains of a small motor boat.

As for Griz, my attitude heading into their territory for the summer is that I hope to see at least one, but not too closely.

Allan Stellar said...

Hi Larry,

I haven't read Peacock--so I think I'll pick up his latest in order to get a modern perspective. And you are right: This was quite a find! I was enthralled by Mills writing and story...

As for Bushwhacking with a Griz? What is more frightening--a Griz or Harley Dudes with automatic weapons tending their cannabis field? :)


Thanks. I've been enjoying your "best of" series...good stuff there!

And I look forward to your first Griz sighting in Yellowstone. Although I hear the Wolf population is way down...



greentangle said...

Yeah, when it comes to Grizzlies, you've got to read Hayduke, I mean Peacock.

Glad you like some of 2007; I'm working on 2008.