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14 July, 2009

Skate Creek

So, since last time, where have I been?

Trout Lake, pulling a John Henry as I tried screening as fast as a Bobcat with a 12" auger (and after falling further and further behind, finally snapping off a leg...screen's leg, not mine). I'd show you pictures, but it was a cloudy day and all I found was that the ash is thick downwind of Mt St Hellions.

Before that was east a ways on highway 12, near Randle and Packwood. Not too far from where the Cowlitz as a river gives way to manifold montain headwaters.

You're looking down Skate Creek here, not all that far from the Packwood megalopolis, but even closer to where one of the mountain chiefs kept house. He's most famous in print as the go-to guy for crazy white men who wanted to climb Rainier.

But you get out on the land, or even just peek at the GIS, you can get the bigger picture. The "Indian's Cabin" shown on an old survey map is by Skate Creek, which feeds the Cowlitz from headwaters near the upper Nisqually River, which flows in a completely different direction, down to the Puget Sound instead of the Columbia. Besides which, there are big meadows up there, so people and ponies can eat.

My humble tent is shown within a few hundred yards of Sluiskin's place, near the big boulder dividing the stream in the top photo. The one where you could stand and net or spear fish. Because yeah, it's nice to have a trail up-valley and all, but food is what's gonna make it worth having a house.

Spent a day and a night there, and even though the Indian's House was obliterated when somebody went ape-shit with a dozer, the place is still great. Just before the hills close in, not too far from the village, lots of strawberries, plenty of room to dry fish, elk trails everywhere, and tasty water.

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