When I was five, my parents made me WALK from the Lucky Star mine to the end of what became Forest Road 409. It was horrible — or I thought it was. I just wished to go home.
That was the first entry I can remember into the incredible upper reaches of Blue Creek. It was a wild place then, and has since become wilder. In place of childish reluctance, I am now oh so grateful to my parents — and that rustic road.
The grade we traversed (the station wagon wouldn’t) was negotiable with four-wheel drive until the East Fork remodeled it extensively in the ‘70s during a rain-on-snow event — what we used to call “floods.” Parts of the road still exist — sort of. I use it still to access the upper creek basins. But the old path grows alder, hemlocks, devil’s club and boulders. The wild is taking it back. I am grateful for that as well.
I have been to many magic places in my travels; magic in the sense of beauty and sacredness. Upper Blue Creek is one of those places. It’s not untouched. Human industry left marks. Miners’ exploratory holes hide in the verdant canyon jungle. Men my grandfather worked with left the stumps of giant cedar in dark groves of their progeny. An ancient, rugged prospector’s trail appears and disappears at the whim of vine maple, Pacific yew, alder and hawthorn.
The planet has swallowed it all and now digests it, turning it back to wild silence and sanctuary; where Earth holds sway as a living being that I am not apart from, but a part of. It’s wilderness in every sense.
When I am there, I find I have gotten my childhood wish. I am home in my wild back yard, and I am grateful.