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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