29 Jun

On our recent vacation at Sylvan Lake in Paha Sapa, I was very surprised to find logging in progress within a few hundred feet of the lake. Right on the Harney Peak trailhead, and around that entire area, I found swaths of fresh cut stumps, logs, branches and debris, all connected by muddy ruts and tracks from equipment. The trail itself was torn up very badly by this activity.

This was my first time as a witness to logging. It isn’t exactly “clear-cutting,” where entire areas of the forest are removed all at once. But, it did make a much bigger destructive path than I had imagined/hoped.

One stump that I spent some time next to revealed just how much life and time was destroyed to make some paper and decks. You don’t get a real feel for the size and age of the stump shown above, until you know that I carefully counted 238 rings on that stump. 238 years of wisdom and life, chopped down.

I’m  a treehugger, in the purest sense of the word, so this was painful. I was particularly stumped by the mess left behind. The track ruts from the equipment, the branches strewn about seemingly waiting to dry up and invite raging fire, and the scores of smaller trees that seem to have been felled and left behind.

It became my meditation for the evening, and continued the following morning. Sitting in destruction, death. And in life and beauty. All around me. I noticed how even the stumps and killed trees where beautiful in ways that I wouldn’t have noticed if they were still standing. It was an eclipse, an unexpected darkness. But also a new sunrise, a new beginning. And all of it was beautiful in the sadness. I found peace in not judging the loggers or the forest managers or you and me for using the paper these wise ones became. I found peace in just enjoying the beauty and the learning in the moment. And I found a window into deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of it all. The responsibility, the sorrow, the anticipation, the confusion, the new dawn, the forgiveness–all were mine, and ours.

Then, on the way down, I decided to run the treacherous paths cut by the loggers. It was a bit dangerous and very exhilarating.

[update 6/29: Corey has probably solved the logging mystery. Read the comments…]


Posted by on June 29, 2010 in hiking, presencing, rants, trees


Tags: , ,

2 responses to “Stumped

  1. caheidelberger

    June 29, 2010 at 8:27 am

    I hate to see any tree go, too. But the logging you saw may have been part of the pine beetle control program. My friend Larry Kurtz, who lived for years in the Hills, says the pines are much thicker now than they were before we wasicu came hunting for gold and summer cabins. Closer trees mean easier spread of the beetles. The Rushmore fireworks are cancelled this year due to fears that one spark could set off a huge, racing canopy fire in the dying trees.

    It makes my heart sink to see that logging happen. It’s hard for me to adjust to the idea that the abundant trees themselves are an unhealthy result of of our interference with the natural balance of the Paha Sapa.

    • joebart

      June 29, 2010 at 10:14 am

      Thanks for the correction Corey. Makes me feel a little better, I guess. It was hard to believe they’d be logging like that in the Lake/trail area.


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