Stop… Stop… Stop… We are going to Roll Over

 

Blazer in the ditch Collawash Road 63

“Stop… Stop… Stop… we are going to roll over!”

My son Chris and I were exploring Mount Hood National Forest (MHNF) roads in Clackamas County. We were headed toward Estacada, planning to follow the Collawash River Road (MHNF 63) down to the Clackamas River Road (MHNF 46) when we came upon two small trees that had fallen across the road.

MHNF roads are maintained mostly by users. Winter snow results in heavy loads on trees and fallen trees are common.  Normally I carry an axe and a chainsaw in my Chevy 4WD Blazer when I’m traversing back country. But this trip was the result of a change of plans after we departed home, so the axe and chainsaw didn’t make the trip. Our satellite phone didn’t make the trip either. No one else knew of our change in plans.

When we came to the tree trunks blocking the road, we had to decide… backtrack about 80 miles or jump the tree trunks.

“Not a problem… I’ve jumped bigger tree trunks than that… we have a high clearance 4WD…  What can go wrong?… If we find bigger trees across the road we can come back this way.”

The Blazer easily cleared the tree trunks and we continued our way.

Barricade on Collawash River Road

A few more miles down the road we came upon an insurmountable problem. The road had washed out and there was no bypassing the barricade. We were forced to retreat the way we came.

We once again encountered the downed tree trunks. This time headed uphill.

While attempting to jump the tree trunks a wheel got caught up with a trunk and we ended up in soft roadside gravel which gave way. An attempt to back up made the problem worse and resulted in my son yelling at me to stop because the front end of the Blazer was heading sideways and threatening to roll us over into the canyon.

Blazer off road Collawash

“We’re hopelessly stuck. We’re not likely to see another vehicle. Our cell phones won’t reach out. It will be dark soon. We might as well start walking.”

So, we began to walk… hoping when we got to the 46 road down the Clackamas River we might catch a ride to Estacada some 40 miles distant where cell phone communications could be established. My home near Gresham was another 15 miles where my Dodge diesel 4WD pickup was located and I could retrieve the proper tools to extract the Blazer from its dilemma.

Fortunately for us a family was camping near Bagby Hot Springs and decided to return to their home that evening. We were about four miles down the 63 road when they found us walking toward Estacada.

They stopped and gave us a ride. We were rescued. They took us to our home near Gresham. All our lucky stars were in alignment.

The next day my son and I returned to the Collawash River with the Dodge 4WD… with ax and chainsaw… with tow cables… with a satellite phone… (in case we got the Dodge stuck too).

We extracted the Blazer from its precarious perch and took the long way home.

We vowed never to leave home again without an ax or chainsaw in our rig.

Story and photos byLarry

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What Does That Mean

 

signs at Cochran Pond

“What does that mean?” said Ralph.  

Ralph Anderson, the big tree guy, and I were exploring the site of the historic logging and railroad community of Cochran in Tillamook County, Oregon. The road we were following crossed railroad tracks belonging to the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad near Cochran Pond and we were confronted by “No Trespassing” signs, one each side of the road.

 “What is confusing you? The ‘No Trespassing’ sign appears to be in proper form.”

 “I’m not sure about ‘Violators will be prosecuted.’ Any defense lawyer would say, ‘It depends.’ There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip.”

“Maybe the sign is for insurance purposes… you have been warned the tracks have been damaged and are unsafe. The risk is on the one who trespasses.”

“It depends.”

“You might have to tell your story to a judge. I’m more concerned about the Salmonberry Trail sign… the use of ‘intergovernmental agency’ seems pretentious and misleading,” I said. “The United Nations is an example of an intergovernmental agency. Maybe they meant ‘intragovernmental agency’ instead.”

“I think the sign means they are looking for donations to improve the trail.”

“No doubt. Before I give any donation I always check credentials.  I look at their IRS Form 990 and see how they spend the donations they receive. I’ll check out their registration documents too.”

At home, a few days later, I called Ralph to report on the results of an online search:

“Ralph, after a frustrating search of online resources, I have yet to turn up the documents I’m looking for. The Salmonberry Trail Intergovernmental Agency is more convoluted than a bowl of spaghetti. The web page for SalmonberryTrail.org is very professional… promises tax deductible status for donations… but doesn’t lead me to any of the documents required by the State Oregon. I am suspicious. I won’t be donating any money soon.”

Story and photo byLarry

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Head for the Hills

old growth logs at Douty Pond

“Ralph, I found a photograph of an old mill pond full of old growth logs… the logs look huge…  I think I found the location on Google Earth… it still exists… let’s go see if we can find it.”

Ralph Anderson is a big tree guy… he spent his working lifetime as a carpenter and has a love for anything to do with trees… especially the biggest trees of any species… he has traveled the world looking at big trees. I knew he would be interested in this old mill pond, now drained, containing old growth Douglas fir logs… perhaps a chance to verify the size of some of those trees.

We agreed to meet the next morning at six A.M. and head for the hills… the summit of the coast range… the historic logging town of Cochran… hopefully the Douty mill pond.

Our search for the Douty mill pond took us first to the town of Timber in Washington County. From Timber we followed NW Cochran road into Tillamook County…  up to the summit of the Coast range.

Road Closure to Cochran

Near the summit we found a man walking along the road… we stopped to talk… let’s call him “Steve”… Steve informed us he was about to close the road… he was digging drains… placing culverts… and the road would be impassable until he was finished with his work. What a revolting development that was.

Fortunately, we had arrived just minutes before the road closed in front of us. The question was if we continued forward could we leave?

Steve explained that other logging roads provided an exit, if we knew our way around… then he mentioned Cochran road would be closed for about three hours if we could wait that long.

We could… our project might take most of the day… so we elected to continue our search for the Douty mill pond… we continued forward… the road closed behind us.

I had found a likely location for the pond on Google Earth… and had a hiker’s vague description… but we didn’t find the pond at any of our best guesses. The terrain was too rugged for random exploration.

We were ready to admit defeat… leave… when a pickup came up the road from the direction of the closure… the road was still closed…  the driver stopped…  we chatted about what we were doing.

He lived nearby… he was an elk hunter… he knew about the mill pond… he could lead us to it… we accepted his offer.

We had been within an eighth of a mile from the pond and missed it. With our new-found friend as a guide… he knew exactly where to stop… he pointed out access to the trail… and we were on our way to a successful conclusion for our field trip. Voila. Unbelievable serendipity.

Ralph Anderson at Douty Pond

The logs were not nearly as big as they looked in the photo… we had guessed at seven to eight feet in diameter but in reality… the logs turned out to measure three to four feet.

We weren’t disappointed… we had a day filled with adventure… serendipity… met interesting people… successful conclusion… had a good time… willing to return.

Story and photos byLarry

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The Big Red Rooster

Are you kidding me? The Big Red Rooster? No one I knew was likely to call General Doolittle by his nickname. We preferred to call him: “General”

We are talking about General Gordon Doolittle… Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard… not General Jimmy Doolittle… famous aviation pioneer.

Recently I found a biography about Gordon Doolittle posted on a website titled: “Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor” (http://www.evergreenmuseum.org/oregon-aviation-hall-of-honor) The biography mentioned his nickname came from his thick red hair. Ignore the video… it is about Jimmy Doolittle… same last name, easy mistake to make.

The General was a legendary character in Oregon aviation history. Everyone had their own favorite story about him. I had several.

One time a gang of us were standing around in Operations and the General walked in. As was customary someone called for “attention” to which the General replied “As you were” so I resumed my stance, leaning with my back against the wall. After a moment the General walked over and stood in front of me. Then he stepped on my toes! I straighten up and he stepped on my toes again. This time I came to attention… he smiled and walked away without saying a word. Lesson learned.

Another time: I stopped by the Officers Club after work. Usually the bar was inhabited by a group of pilots “debriefing” after a mission. As the Chief of Safety, I liked to listen to the war stories told by pilots when their tongues were loosened by a beer or two. Sometimes interesting information slipped out.

As luck would have it General Doolittle was the only person at the bar. I thought it polite to say hello. In casual conversation, he mentioned that when he became a commander he thought it wise to choose a command philosophy. He chose to be a tyrant.

What now? How do I respond to this revelation? Agree? Disagree? Was this a test?

I chose to ask a question. What benefits did he see from being a tyrant?

He admitted that he liked to test people. How they responded to a tyrant was important. If you believed he was wrong, speak up, but you had better be correct. If you were wrong, life was going to be miserable.

I have always believed his middle initial was: “O.” Think about it… G. O. D.

Have you ever received a memo signed by GOD?

Story ByLarry

ORANG 1960-85

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Grandpa’s Jeep

Grandpa’s Jeep needs restoration

“Let’s restore Grandpa’s jeep,” said my son. He had fond memories of riding around the farm with Grandpa driving the jeep… “That jeep could go anywhere… Grandpa called it a goat. It could do anything except stop. The brakes were terrible… non-existent… Sometimes he had to run it into a tree to make it stop.”

According to body style Grandpa’s jeep was a CJ2A. The Oregon license plate was issued in 1956 and the last tag update lasted until 1986. Between those years the jeep saw a lot of action hauling deer and elk carcasses out of the woods. He removed the canvas top and replaced it with a plywood cab.

When dad retired from hunting he parked his jeep under a big Douglas fir tree where it collected a covering of fir needles. Occasionally he used it to haul grandchildren around the farm.

Since Grandpa died his jeep has been collecting rust and losing parts.

The jeep turned into a midnight auto supply for neighborhood thieves. First the hood disappeared, then the radiator and the winch. Someone removed the air cleaner from the carburetor and a spark plug from one cylinder… perhaps they were trying to decide if the engine was worth stealing and they didn’t bother putting the air cleaner or the spark plug back in place… so rain water seeped in and completed the ruin of the engine.

We plan to remove the homemade plywood cab… remove the rusted-out tub… if the frame is in good shape we would replace the engine and install disc brakes… install a new aluminum tub… it is going to be a big project and not much of the original jeep is going to remain.

It might be easier to get a new jeep… but only one jeep can be called “Grandpa’s Jeep.”

“Let’s do it.”

Photo and story byLarry

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