Fuji Mountain (Ancient Forest)

June 23, 1991

This outing was planned to view the Ancient Forest lying to the north of Fuji Mountain. Seven of us headed for Fuji on a nice June day. We met the eighth person (Mari Baldwin) at Eagle Creek Rd. just past the railroad trestle on Hwy. 58. We were able to drive eight miles up Eagle Creek Rd. to about one mile from where we had planned to go. The three women (the stronger sex) — Doris Allen, Mari Baldwin and Kristen Kaminski — headed out at a fast pace covering the last mile of road 200 yards ahead of us slowpokes Gerhard Hoffman, Marty Hathaway, Hawke Williams, Ray Mikesell and Marriner Orum (leader) bringing up the rear. The road ended in an old clearcut on a ridge at 5,700 ft. elevation, and where we had an excellent view of the Fuji Ancient Forest area spread out in a large bowl below. We headed up the ridge, catching wonderful views of the forest hills and distant mountains. We encountered quite a bit of snow, steep pitches, thick vegetation and many windfalls to scramble over. The going was more difficult than had been anticipated. After a while three people turned back because of time constraints and inadequate boots while the others continued up the ridge to where we encountered a very steep, snowy slope. Although we carried ski poles, crampons would have been more appropriate. We turned back because of the risk of some losing their footing and sliding into a tree. Then back to the clear cut. This entire area is in high elevation type forest composed mostly of mountain hemlock and true fir. These are low value species and on poor timber growing land. We looked at a couple of stumps. The annual rings were so fine that a magnifying glass would be needed to count them. An 18-inch stump appeared to have been for a tree at least 250 years old, indicating very slow growth. Total yield of merchantable wood was probably less than one-third of what could be expected from a stand of Douglas fir at lower elevation. It appears very wrong to invade a piece of wild land to harvest timber, especially so when the material and economic benefits are so meager and may have been insufficient to pay for the cost of the sale preparation and access road. This seems to emphasize that the chain saw and the bulldozer have no business being in the Ancient Forest around Fuji Mountain or in any similar high elevation forest land where watershed and other non-timber values are more important.


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