Saturday, September 23, 2017

Ottawa National Forest - Trail among trees

Three days of hiking produced a few highlights and a few outrages, but for most of the time I was on flat ground in deep woods, with views limited to a few feet to a few hundred feet by the foliage.  I'll dispense the GPS tracks one at a time.

Day one had the most variety.  It's the source of the photo up top, the view from near the Oren Krumm Shelter on the Sturgeon River.

Tibbetts Falls was near the end of that day, on the same river--not a spectacular drop, but great noisy rapids and cascades.

Earlier in the day I passed through a major 2008 burn area, still far from recovery.

It did supply some material for the artistic eye,

And in places the young pines were regenerating, chest high, and as thick as flies.

The real outrage this day was the areas of logging, some selective, some utterly trashing the trail and the hiking experience.  Hat number 79 introduces us to some of Ottawa National Forest's new horizontal, portable forest.

Questions:  What makes Ottawa National Forest think it's okay to pillage the National Scenic Trail that they are charged to protect and care for?  Does greed know no bounds?  Doesn't this mega-forest have enough trees in it that they can leave a corridor along the trail (what is called a 'view-shed') undisturbed?

Why do these questions even have to be asked?

Common sense, not legislation, ought to be sufficient.  Government-paid Forest managers seem to be listening to the loggers.  The small quiet voices of the hikers--of the forest itself--protesting the rape and plunder, seem to be drowned out by great roar of the skidders, the all-in-one automated saws and bunchers, the trucks, and the smell of diesel and bleeding pitch.  Oh, how my fury burned.

Day two was far more quiet--to the point of boredom.

I did pass through the Gorge of the Sturgeon River, shown best by this topographic map detail.

But the trail provided no panoramas--no views from the rim.  There was one along a road but I didn't drive in.  The best scene I saw was right down beside the river, where it wound lazily past some giant white pines and color-changing sugar maples.

Hat number 80 paused as I etched a little "HEY, wait--you're-leaving-a-trace" message on the common but interesting 'white board' fungus, which turns instantly from white to black at the slightest touch.

Day Three, if it is possible, was even more featureless.

Two beaver ponds, of which this is one,

and a sudden stretch of perfectly maintained trail after emerging from almost being lost.  Hat 81--my oldest hat, first non-Little-League ball cap I owned in my life--poses with its apt message on the proud maintainer's sign at the trailhead.

These people have a right to be proud.  But I wish they would have spread the wealth.  As I said, the adjacent section was overgrown to the point of being dangerous--branches in the face, couldn't see footing, stepped in bog-pits and ankle-twisting holes--went long stretches without any blazes to the point where I thought I must have missed a turn and backtracked a quarter mile, but no, pressing ahead I suddenly came out upon this eight-foot-wide perfectly manicured grassy boulevard-in-the-woods.

People, you've built a gold-plated mansion in the middle of a squalid slum.  On the other side of your section is the freshly trashed logging area.  No matter how much you preen your wonderful piece of trail, you're still living in a slum.  How about devoting a little love to your neighbors rather than staying cloistered behind your mansion gates?  Share the wealth.  Go out and spend a day cleaning up the adjacent section where there is clearly no active maintainer.  Visit the Ottawa National Forest Business Office in Ironwood and speak up.

Thank you very much.

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