Day 91 - Clear-cut - July 5

I awoke early at 5:30 when the sun rose over a clear cloudless sky.  The sky uniformly turned from orange to blue, like in the desert.  I went back to sleep, waking once in a while.  Clouds were now on the horizon, drifting along in the distance.  You could see so far from this campsite, and the mesh of my tent faced the view.  You could see Mt Shasta rising far over the other mountains to the left. It was one of the prettiest campsites on the trail so far, but I still count the one in the boulder field in the desert as the best.

I had some food and then left, enjoying the views as they unfolded before me.  I stopped for oatmeal breakfast near some rock outcroppings.  There was a view of a beautiful little lake called Echo Lake next to a steep rocky mountain. Uphill was a patch of bare earth, dirt roads like a maze through it and the remains of trees scattered about the hillside.  A clear-cut.

I noticed more patches like that, areas where the clear-cut was less recent and some underbrush and small trees had started to grow back.  Here I am, on a National Scenic Trail in a National Forest Wilderness Area, and this is the view.  The big view of the forests being cut down.  It made me angry.  Who should I be angry at, really?  Was it the government who gave permission to cut trees here?  Maybe it's private land.  Maybe not.  Does that really change the nature of what was done here?  The logging wouldn't happen if we didn't want it.  We're all to blame.  Everyone.  All those disposable paper products we think nothing about using and buying.  Think about all the paper we use, and most of it is disposable.  Packaging for items, food wrappers, containers, office waste.  Plus, we tend to insist on buying the cheapest one we can find.  The cheapest way to get that paper is to clear-cut a swatch of forest like this.  The 100% recycled toilet paper is seen as too expensive.  It might cost twice as much, and you need that money to buy a new TV every three years.

I'm certainly not in the clear here.  Thru-hiking is a high waste endeavor.  We buy a lot of packaged foods and then we repackage them in Ziploc bags.  I didn't see any recycling in the last town I was in, so it all went in the trash can.  I probably use more paper each week on the trail than I do in a month back home.  At home, I tend to shop bulk, use reusable items and reduce waste as much as I can.  I'm going to have some catching up to do on my low waste lifestyle when I get back.

Ok, back to the trail.  The exposed trail, with views everywhere.  The jagged cliffs and rocks above, with clear blue lakes below.  This section is spectacular.  The late night and restless sleep after sunrise had left me tired, so I was not making fast progress.

Coming down off the higher mountains, there was a beautiful meadow.  I stopped and read there a little.  I continued to Porcupine Lake, which is one of the prettiest little lakes on the trail.  When I reached it, I said wow.  It's surrounded by steep mountains on three sides, there was some snow left near the lake also.  It sparkled in the sun over deep blue waters.  There was camping all around it.  I found an isolated spot far to the left and set up camp, even though it was only 4:00 and I had only hiked 10 miles that day.  I went for a swim, standing in the cool water up to my waist for a while before committing to a swim.  For some reason, being able to see the bottom so far down is disturbing to me.  It just doesn't happen back home.  I keep thinking about that fallen tree at the bottom, as if it will snag me and pull me under.  I push these thoughts away and enjoy the brief swim.  The water is very cold and I head back for shore quickly.  I sun at the shore, reading my book and being a little antisocial.  There's many people camped here, but I didn't feel like socializing.


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