Category: Olympic Peninsula Tales

Lyre Creek Conservation Area

West of Port Angeles 25 miles, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca coast, lies a 280 acre preserve established by the North Olympic Land Trust which is just beautiful. A half mile walk through lovely cedar second growth forest brings you to the Lyre Creek outlet, a half mile beach, a meadow, and beauty. I was out there yesterday, spitting rain, wandering, and as I came down the last little switchback from the forest onto the coastal meadow I heard an eagle cry, twice, three times, and then saw before me this herd of elk, who even as I saw them and tried to photograph them were sliding into the forest. Then two enormous eagles dropped from some trees, close to me, maybe 30 feet, swooping low over the meadow then rising, crying again. There was still lots of snow in the forest, the creek was chattering and surging, waves curling and breaking, and out on the cobble beach a big heron, motionless. See the elk, there, behind the reforestation efforts? They were within a hundred yards of the shore. That view of the reflection and the peaks beyond is looking back toward the interior Olympic ranges. If you’re ever out that way, go west on Route 112 through Joyce and look for Randolph Road on the right, just before Lyre Creek. It’s a trip worth taking.



Becoming lost in the woods….

Have you ever been lost in the woods? These days most of us, when we become lost, are more likely than not wandering an airport or big public parking garage looking for our vehicle. Right?

I’ve never been really lost out there. There are stages of lost-ness, I think. There is the “lost the trail” lost, which means wandering off a trail without realizing and then trying to find one’s way back. This is how most people get truly lost, this way, I think. I met a guy in my writing class in 2013 who went into the Olympics and started up the Three Lakes Trail toward Skyline ridge in the southwest Olympics, off the Quinault, and somehow missed a turn and ended up lost for five days. He got out OK, chilled, but that’s a long time to be missing. So he went from “lost the trail” to being really lost, but of course knowing the general area he was in. Then there is the totally lost condition, not even knowing the general area, this coming when say a plane crashes in the wilderness somewhere and you survive.

But, three times, I wandered off trail and was for a time “lost.” I wasn’t lost for long the first time. I was hiking up to Dodger Point and, low down, the trail jogs sharp left and up to start up the ridge after crossing the Elwha (I think that’s where it was, it was 25 years ago) and I kept going ahead, on the open forest floor, until say thirty yards in I realized I wasn’t on the trail any more. That was startling. An interesting thing happens to you when you lose a trail, or to me, anyway. Everything shifts. That first time I backtracked and sure enough found the jog right away.

The second time I was lost could have been more serious. I was alone, up on the Skyline Trail, July Fourth weekend a year with little snow, absolutely alone, my second day in, way up high past Kimta Peak, the next pass, maybe Hee Haw Pass? Anyway its rocky and bare up there, cairns, but enough snow to cover the cairns, and the trail there wanders down this rocky defile a ways then also jogs left over a little deep creek, but the ground is open and well trod and so I missed that jog and wandered this way, then that, and always the trail petered out. I am way in, it has just started to rain, and it then rained for three days, never been up there before, and now cannot find where the trail goes. That time it took me a half hour to find the jog and the trail. I knew enough to know that when you lose the trail you backtrack, first, and second you don’t go wandering off without a real clear idea of how go get back, because it’s rough country up there and if you get off far enough, down say a steep side hill, then you can get turned around and then you are lost, like my classmate got lost.

The third time is embarrassing. I had a new pair of boots, and hoped they were broken in. I had walked in them and gone up and down gravel sidehills with them, but they were new and I knew they were not yet ready, but it was a nice day, sunny, dead clear, I had the day off, and the Brothers beckoned, so I drove to the trailhead to Lena Lake, was on the trail by 6am, and tried to climb the Brothers. This, like the two events above, was the first or second year I was out here, maybe 25 years ago. I was younger than now and felt strong and was really stupid because right away I knew the boots weren’t ready but, dammit, the day was FINE, so on I went. The climber’s path to some campsites in the Valley of Silent Men is pretty easy to follow, and then you get above trees and I climbed up and up and up, in the hot sun, feet starting to burn, now, but dammit I was close! I reached the final summit block, where it gets a little exposed, and by now I know my feet are gonna be a big problem. I turned around maybe 200 feet below the summit and worked my way down to the campsites off the rock, which took a damn long time, several hours,  and when I got down there I got all turned around. I stopped and thought, I should take my boots off, but knew if I did I’d never get them on again. But somehow I got turned around and could not find the path down to Lena Lake. This took me two hours, wandering and looking. I was in a lot of pain and feeling stupid and not too rational, probably seriously dehydrated, nobody else around all day, afraid to remove my boots. That time, for a half hour, I was afraid I was really lost, wandering the woods, maybe getting further and further from the trail, and that was scary and sobering. I stopped and sat and took some breaths and relaxed, drank water, and checked the sun, the slopes, and found the trail.

I got back to my car at 7pm, 6000 vertical feet up and 6000 vertical feet down later, and when I took off those boots the skin on my feet up to my ankles came off too.

This was the first of several embarrassing boot stories, but (hopefully) the last of my lost stories, all of which were many years ago. But, still, that shift, that change, when you realize you don’t know where you are –  that gets your attention.




K2 – the savage mountain

My father was in the ski troops during World War 2, and he knew a lot of the men who before the war and afterwards turned to expedition climbing of the big mountains in Asia. He knew Bob Bates, who was on several K2 expeditions in the early 1950s, so as a kid I knew a little about this passion people had. Later, when I was 14, I did some climbing myself, in the Tetons, and I climbed with the Exum Climbing School a few times and even made it to the top of the Grand Teton. Barry Corbett was one of the guides at that school, and so was Jake Britenbach. Both men went to Everest in 1962-1963 and Barry Corbett made it to the summit. Jake Britenbach was killed in the icefall. I did some further rock climbing and winter mountaineering in New Hampshire in graduate school, with a childhood friend Jim Boicourt who was himself killed in 1976 in an avalanche in Colorado.

Mountain climbing is dangerous, and the high mountains really dangerous.I never had the burning fire to climb huge mountains or volcanoes, but I know plenty who have that fire. I think a special place exists for those people who tackle a mountain like K2, and the link here is to a terrible series of events on K2 by one expedition. This is a long damn way from the Pacific Northwest and the Olympic Peninsula, but some of the greatest mountaineers ever came from here and are still alive. One such was my next door neighbor, who died at 94 a few weeks ago after a long life as a halibut fisherman and climber. He climbed Mt. Rainier 40 times, the last time when he was 80. As a kid he went to Camp Parsons as a boy scout in the Olympics, the late 1920s, early 1930s, and he learned all he knew there, in those mountains.





Real – Unreal ? Global Warming Comparison

I’m taking a huge risk, here, because this whole global warming, or, now, climate change issue has become such a loaded subject, prompting nearly religious fury and rage on both sides. In fact, it’s almost become THE SUBJECT ONE CANNOT MENTION in polite company, or impolite company. And now, after the 2016 election, it will only grow more contentious, as the so-called “deniers” have come to the fore….But it’s a real debate, and a huge reflection of values, with enormous consequences depending on what we do, or don’t do, in response to the proof, or lack thereof, of the situation. But because I have written this long story that is fundamentally about real climate change, and by that I mean, climate change we know took place in the past, I looked for some reasonably concise and level comparison of the two points of view. I’m not rabid about this subject, on either side, because it’s clear to me that we’ve evolved amidst huge climate changes, huge ones we have learned then forgotten, several times. Where I get a little uncomfortable, no, very uncomfortable, is when I smell the stench of zealotry, and in this area there’s plenty to go around on all sides. More than plenty.

This is from a website called Pro which says it wants to look at contentious issues from both sides. I don’t know if these guys are real, or straight up, or some kind of cloaked front for foaming radical social scientists trying to get everyone out of cities or for cigar smoking corporate fat cats living off pillaged land and natural resources. It seemed to me that the points made here pro and con were fairly reasonable. I am sure there are other, better lists. Point is, some can argue there’s no question at all we are cooking ourselves, while others argue as strongly that we’re headed into another ice age. What do you think?

Pro & Con Arguments: “Is Human Activity a Substantial Cause of Global Climate Change?”
PRO Human Causation
1. 75% of the 20th century increase in the atmospheric greenhouse gas CO2 is directly caused by human actions like burning fossil fuels. CO2 levels were 389ppm (parts per million) as of Apr. 2010 – the highest they have been in the past 650,000 years. [6] This increase in CO2 was a substantial contributor to the 1°F to 1.4°F warming over the 20th century. [1][43]
2. Human-produced CO2 is warming the earth, not natural CO2 released from the ocean and other “carbon sinks.” CO2 from fossil fuel combustion has a specific isotopic ratio [48] that is different from CO2 released by natural “carbon sinks.” 20th century measurements of CO2 isotope ratios in the atmosphere confirm that the rise results from human activities, not natural processes. [3]
3. Human produced greenhouse gases will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere causing climate change because the earth’s forests, oceans, and other “carbon sinks” cannot adequately absorb them all. As of 2009, these carbon sinks were only absorbing about 50% of human-produced CO2. The other 50% is accumulating in the atmosphere. [3]
4. Human greenhouse gas emissions, not changes in the sun’s radiation, are causing global climate change. Measurements in the upper atmosphere from 1979 – 2009, show the sun’s energy has gone up and down in cycles, with no net increase. While warming is occurring in the troposphere (lower atmosphere), the stratosphere (upper atmosphere) is cooling. If the sun was driving the temperature change there would be warming in the stratosphere also, not cooling. [7]
5. Computer models show that increased levels of human produced greenhouse gases will cause global warming and other climate changes. Although these climate models are uncertain [8] about how much future warming will occur and how it will affect the climate, they all agree that, to some degree, these changes will happen. The reality of climate change is not contradicted by this uncertainty.
6. Although the amount of human-produced greenhouse gases may seem small to some people, their warming potential is amplified by the water vapor positive feedback loop [49], allowing them to cause significant warming and climate change. As greenhouse gases heat the planet, increased humidity (water vapor in the atmosphere) results. Since water vapor is itself a greenhouse gas, it can double the warming effect of greenhouse gases such as CO2. [9]
7. Human greenhouse gas emissions are heating the planet, and climate models [50] consistently show that this warming causes an increase in the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones. [10] The fact that 1975-1989 had 171 category 4 and 5 hurricanes while 1990-2004 had 269 [51] of them (a 57% increase) validates these climate models and the reality of human-induced climate change.
8. Human-produced CO2 is changing the climate of the world’s oceans. As excess CO2 is absorbed, oceanic acidity levels increase. Oceans have absorbed 48% of the total CO2 [52] released by human activities and acidity levels are 25-30% higher [53] than prior to human fossil fuel use. [11]
9. An 8″ rise in the ocean level has occurred (1961-2003) due to human-induced global warming. Global sea levels rose an average of 1.8 mm (.07 in) per year between 1961 and 2003 and at an average rate of about 3.1 mm (.1 in) per year from 1993 to 2003. [3] This sea level rise is the result of warming waters and the melting of glaciers, ice caps, and polar ice sheets. From 1870-2004, a “significant acceleration” of sea-level rise occured, an important confirmation of climate change models. [12]
10. Warming caused by human-produced greenhouse gases is changing the earth’s hydrologic climate. Rainfall is increasing in many areas due to increased evaporation stemming from global warming. Higher temperatures are also causing some mountainous areas to receive rain rather than snow. According to researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, up to 60% of the changes in river flow, winter air temperature, and snow pack in the western US (1950-1999) were human-induced. [13]
11. Warming caused by human-produced greenhouse gases is changing the rate of glacial melt and altering the local climate of many regions. Since 1850, records show a “strong increase” in the rate of glacial retreat. [54] From 1961-2004 glaciers retreated about .5mm per year in sea level equivalent. [3] According to the World Glacier Monitoring Service, since 1980, glaciers worldwide have lost nearly 40 feet (12 meters) in average thickness (measured in average mass balance in water equivalent). [14]
12. Warming caused by human-produced greenhouse gases and soot (black carbon) produced from burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, [16] is reducing the size of the Arctic ice cap. A smaller ice cap reflects less of the sun’s energy away from the earth. This energy is absorbed instead, causing air and water temperatures to rise. From 1953–2006, Arctic sea ice declined 7.8% per decade. Between 1979 and 2006, the decline was 9.1% each decade. Climate models predict that Arctic sea ice will continue to retreat through the 21st century further disrupting the global climate. [15]
13. Many organizations believe that human activity is a substantial cause of global climate change. These groups include: the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the InterAcademy Council, the Network of African Science Academies, the European Science Foundation (ESF), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Royal Society (UK national academy of science), the US National Academies of Science, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
14. Nearly all climate change studies show humans as the main cause, and studies which contradict this claim are often funded by petroleum companies, making their conclusions suspect given the obvious conflict of interest. From 2004-2005, ExxonMobil gave $2.2 million [55] in grants for climate change research to organizations that deny human caused climate change. In 2006 US Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) chastised ExxonMobil [56] for providing more than $19 million in funding to over 29 “climate change denial front groups.”

CON Human Causation
1. The 20th century warming of 1-1.4°F is within the +/- 5°F range of the past 3,000 years. [19] A 2003 study by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics [44] shows temperatures from 1000-1100 AD (before fossil fuel use) that are comparable to those from 1900-1990. [45]
2. Rising CO2 levels are a result of global warming, not a cause of it. As temperatures increase, CO2 is released from “carbon sinks” such as the oceans or the Arctic tundra. [20] Measurements of ice core samples show that over the last four climactic cycles (past 240,000 years) periods of global warming preceded global increases in CO2. [57]
3. Human releases of CO2 cannot cause climate change as any increases in CO2 are eventually balanced by nature. CO2 gets absorbed by oceans, forests, and other “carbon sinks” that increase their biological activity to absorb excess CO2 from the atmosphere. 50% of the CO2 released by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities, has already been absorbed. [21]
4. Global warming and cooling are caused by fluctuations in the sun’s heat (solar forcing), not by the minor greenhouse effect of human-produced gases such as CO2 and methane (CH4). [17] Between 1900 and 2000 solar irradiance increased .19%. [19] This increase correlates with the rise in surface temperatures in the US.
5. Due to the inherent unpredictability of climate systems it is impossible to accurately use models to determine future weather. Climate models have been unable to simulate major known features of past climate [58] such as the ice ages or the very warm climates of the Miocene, Eocene, and Cretaceous periods. If models cannot replicate past climate changes they should not be trusted to predict future climate changes.
6. Rising temperatures are caused primarily by water vapor, the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, not by CO2. Water vapor concentrations in the atmosphere are driven by natural storm systems and ocean currents. According to a Mar. 5, 2010 study by researchers at NOAA, water vapor in the stratosphere was responsible for increasing the rate of warming during the 1990s by 30%. [22] [23]
7. The increased hurricane activity over the past decade (1995-2005), including hurricane Katrina, is not the result of human-induced climate change; it is the result of cyclical tropical cyclone patterns, driven primarily by natural ocean currents, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) testimony in the US Senate on Sep. 20, 2005. [59]
8. Deep ocean currents cause climate warming and cooling in long term cycles. The minor greenhouse effect of human produced CO2 pales in comparison. [18] Global cooling from 1940 to the 1970s, and warming from the 1970s to 2008, coincided with fluctuations in ocean currents and cloud cover driven by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) – a naturally occurring rearrangement in atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns. [39]
9. Ocean acidity levels have risen over the 20th century, but they are not out of the ordinary considering the fluctuations of the past 7,000 years. [24] Average ocean surface water pH is 8.1 and has only decreased 0.1 [60] since the beginning of the industrial revolution (neutral is pH 7, acid is below pH7).
10. Changes in ocean currents are primarily responsible for the melting Greenland ice sheet, Arctic sea ice, and Arctic permafrost. Over the 20th century there have been two Arctic warming periods with a cooling period (1940-1970) in between. According to a peer-reviewed Apr. 19, 2009 study [61] in Geophysical Research Letters, natural shifts in the ocean currents are the major cause of these climate changes, not human generated greenhouse gases.
11. The general consensus that the earth has warmed during the 20th century is based upon flawed temperature measurements. These measurements, taken from surface monitoring stations set up by the National Weather Service (NWS), are often contaminated by the “heat island effect.” According to a Mar. 2009 study published by the Heartland Institute, 89% of NWS monitoring stations are too close to artificial heat sources [62] such as large asphalt parking lots, air conditioners, heaters and other sources of artificial heat.
12. Many organizations believe that nature, not human activity, is primarily responsible for climate change. These groups include: the Heartland Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute, the CATO Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Institute for Energy Research, the National Center for Policy Analysis, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.
13. Theories of naturally caused climate change are often ignored by “mainstream” scientists and organizations because many research scientists are more interested in maintainining the flow of federal grant money for climate change research than in questioning the basic theory of human causation. From 1998-2009, nearly $25 billion [46] in federal funds was allocated for climate science research. Researchers who question human-induced climate change often do not receive grant money for research projects. [41]
Background: “Is Human Activity a Substantial Cause of Global Climate Change?”

The US National Academies of Science, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and many others, say that greenhouse gas levels are rising due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation which are causing significant climate changes including global warming, loss of sea ice, glacier retreat, more intense heat waves, stronger hurricanes, and more droughts. They contend that climate change requires immediate international action to prevent dire consequences.
The Heartland Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and many others, argue that human-generated greenhouse gas emissions are too small to substantially change the earth’s climate. They contend that our forests and oceans are capable of absorbing these small increases, and that 20th century warming has resulted from natural processes including fluctuations in the sun’s heat and ocean currents. They say that global climate change is based on bunk science and scare tactics.
Human activities release greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (NO2), into the atmosphere. As of Apr. 2010, CO2 levels were 389 parts per million (ppm) – reportedly higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years when levels fluctuated between 180 and 300 ppm. [3] This rise took place alongside a 20th century global temperature increase of between 1°F and 1.4°F.[1][43]

Although there was a period of cooling from 1940 to 1970 [2], and uncertainty exists in computer climate models, [8] many researchers think the earth will continue to warm by 3-10°F [1] over the 21st century.

Predictions about how climate changes will affect civilization range from an Oct. 2003 Department of Defense report [63] detailing catastrophic weather events and a “significant drop in the human carrying capacity of the Earth’s environment,” to a Fall 2007 Oregon Institute of Science and Health report [19] detailing “an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals.”

Scientists have know of the heating potential (greenhouse effect) of gases such as CO2 since at least Jan. of 1859, when British physicist John Tyndall first began experiments leading to the discovery that CO2 in the atmosphere absorbs the suns heat. [26]
On Feb. 16, 1938, engineer Guy S. Callender published an influential study [64] suggesting increased atmospheric CO2 from fossil fuel combustion was causing global warming. Many scientists criticized the study arguing that CO2 had a negligible effect on temperature compared to water vapor and atmospheric circulation changes.

In March 1958, US climate scientist Charles Keeling began measuring atmospheric CO2 at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii for use in climate modeling. [27] Using these measurements, Keeling became the first scientist to confirm that atmospheric CO2 levels were rising rather than being fully absorbed by forests and oceans (carbon sinks). [28]
In 1977, the US National Academy of Sciences issued the report “Energy and Climate” [65] concluding that the burning of fossil fuels was increasing atmospheric CO2, and that increased CO2 was associated with a rise in global temperatures.

On June 23, 1988, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientist James Hansen presented testimony [66] to the US Senate stating directly that increases in CO2 were warming the planet and “changing our climate.” The testimony was based on Hansen and colleagues’ Aug. 1988 peer-reviewed study on Global Climate Change. [67] Many scientists, including MIT Meteorologist Richard Lindzen, [42] criticized Hansen’s findings arguing that his climate models were unreliable, and that negative feedback loops [68] would balance out any warming caused by increased CO2.

Also in 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to review research on global climate change (as of June 2010, there were 184 IPCC member countries). The IPCC issued its first assessment report [69] in 1990 stating that “emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases,” resulting in “an additional warming of the Earth’s surface.” [30]

On Oct. 13, 1992, US President George Bush signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). [70] The goal of the convention was the “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” [31]
In Dec. 1997, over 161 nations met in Kyoto, Japan, to negotiate a treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions and work toward the objectives of the UNFCCC. The resulting Kyoto Protocol [71] set binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European Union to reduce greenhouse gas emissions roughly 5% below 1990 levels by 2012. [32]
In Mar. 2001, President George W. Bush withdrew the US from the Kyoto Protocol due to Senate opposition and concerns that limiting greenhouse gas emisions would harm the US economy. From July 16-27, 2001 the COP 6 conference (conference of signatory parties to the UNFCCC) took place in Bonn, Germany, and the final amendments to the Kyoto Protocol were made. 179 countries reached a binding agreement without the participation of the US. [33]

In 2006, Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth premiered and was seen by over 5 million worldwide. The film argued that human caused climate change was real, and that without immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, catastrophic climate changes would severely disrupt human societies, leading to a possible collapse of industrial civilization. [34]

In 2007, the IPCC released its fourth assessment report stating that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and that “most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [90% confidence] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic [man-made] greenhouse gas concentrations.” The IPCC and Al Gore received a Noble Peace Prize for their climate science work in Oct. 2007. [35]

In response to the IPCC findings, a group of scientists formed the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) to compile a report challenging the science behind man-made climate change. The Mar. 2, 2008 report, “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate” [72] was published by the Heartland Institute. On Mar. 2-4, 2008, Heartland held its first international conference attended by over 400 scientists, economists, and other experts questioning human-caused global warming. At the conference, 98 speakers [73] including PhD climate scientists from major universities, argued that global warming was most likely a natural event.

On Dec. 7, 2009, the US EPA announced their findings on greenhouse gases determining that they “threaten public health” and are “the primary driver of climate change.” This statement was in response to the US Supreme Court ruling (5-4) in Massachusetts v. EPA [47] that greenhouse gases met the criteria to be considered pollutants under the Clean Air Act. [25]

In Dec. 2009 the COP 15 conference took place in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Copenhagen Accord [74] created by the US, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, called for a rise of no more than 2°C, to be achieved by “deep cuts in global emissions” of greenhouse gases.

From 1998-2009, the US government appropriated $99 billion [46] for work related to climate change. $35.7 billion (36%) of that total came in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

In Apr. 2010, Bolivia hosted an alternative to the UN COP conferences. The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth was attended by representatives from nearly 130 countries. [36] The People’s Agreement [75] reached at the conference demanded that developed countries lower CO2 levels back to 300 ppm (from 389ppm), and rejected the Copenhagen Accord for its “insufficient reductions in greenhouse gases.” It stated that “[c]limate change is now producing profound impacts on agriculture and the ways of life of indigenous peoples and farmers throughout the world.”
As of 2010, the US had 4.5% of the world’s population but was responsible for about 28% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. [7]

On Sep. 27, 2013, the IPCC released a summary of its “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis” report, stating that the evidence for human caused climate change has grown since the release of the fourth assessment report in 2007, and it is now “extremely likely [95% confidence] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” [76]




More Dowsing

Once in the seventies I showed this friend of mine how to dowse. He had a piece of land on the inner Cape up in the woods where he was planning to build a geodesic dome. The land was high, and on each side down a long slope were small ponds maybe sixty feet below. I went out there with him and when he told me he was going to dig a well I cut a stick and wandered the land. The stick pulled down so I said, “Here. Dig here.” He tried it. The stick did not pull down. I then walked backwards ahead of him, holding the ends of the stick where they stuck out from his hands with my fingertips, for contact. Because I had contact this time the stick pulled down. This totally freaked Peter out. It would have freaked him out even if we hadn’t inhaled.

So I went back fishing and Peter began to dig his well. The way he did this, was, he rigged up a big tripod over his site, which was about where my stick pulled down, and then using a pulley and rope he raised and dropped a big weight onto a section of two inch pipe. He would raise and drop that weight for hours, driving the pipe into the earth. Then he’d drop another section of pipe into the first, they were fitted so one slid inside the other two inches, and he’d pound again. Peter never spoke with me about our experience and I knew it troubled him greatly. Much much later he told me the rest of the story, and I swear by the Olympic Mountains this is true. I swear it.

It was summer. It was hot. I was fishing, trip after trip. Peter kept pounding. He drove those sections down thirty feet, fifty feet, eighty feet, a hundred twenty feet. By now he was sixty feet below the ponds down the hill. No water. Not a drop. The summer was passing. One morning, getting coffee, he overheard an old timer talking about dowsing and, remembering the baffling and confusing incident with me, and more than desperate, he mentioned he could use some help. This old dowser went home, grabbed his stick – he was one of those who used the same stick instead of cutting new green sticks like I do – and went with Peter to the site, the tripod, the weight, the pipe. The dowser pulled out his stick and said, “Now, I talk to my stick.” Peter said nothing. “Is there water here?” The stick went down. “Now we will see how deep it is. Is there water at one hundred thirty feet?” The stick did not move. “One hundred fifty feet?” The stick went down. “One hundred forty  five feet?” The stick went down. “One hundred forty six feet?” The stick went down. “One hundred forty seven feet?” The stick did not go down. “You’ll find water after one hundred forty six feet,” the dowser said.

Peter kept pounding that pipe the rest of the summer, driving four inches a day. He found water at one hundred forty six feet eight inches. He never did build his dome, but he drilled a well, and he found water.

How Ancient Are Alpine Trails?

In the Olympics when you get to the high country the main trails cross high meadows, sometimes rutted deep into the dirt, a combination of boot wear, erosion, and flowing water. Off trail tracks are sometimes well worn, also gouged into the earth, plain to see. It doesn’t take much to make a path, because the vegetation up high is sensitive, and passing feet soon wear through grasses, sedges and thin roots to dirt. Once a track is worn, it remains, for a long long time. Up high the ground lies under snow for eight to nine months a year, sheltered and protected, with only the short growing season for roots to bind into the soil, so a worn track, once made, may remain for years, even if untraveled. Now imagine a path traveled every year or every other year by a few people, enough to make the trail, keep the grasses low, but not so many people as to dig a ditch for water and erosion. Those paths up in the high country, maybe they were made by early trappers or Boy Scouts in the first decades of the Twentieth Century, but maybe they were worn much, much earlier. Somehow it has become the general feeling that native tribes avoided the high country, which makes absolutely no sense to me, because up high the elk gather, the berries ripen, and the basins are lovely. People are people, and what would appear a logical route to cross a pass today would seem the same a century ago, a hundred centuries ago, or even longer. So how old are those paths? A century or less, if you agree the high country was avoided, or a hundred centuries or more, if you believe people went wandering as soon as they became people? So, those trails and paths we trod, sweating under our packs, cursing the deerflies, among acres of flowers and heather, could we be walking in the footsteps of people who lived and died back when the ice ruled the earth, or even before? I like to think so. No. I know so.

Even here, way in the back country, we found a trail, made by elk, crossing from one basin to another. Made by elk? Or by human visitors?
Even here, way in the back country, we found a trail, made by elk, crossing from one basin to another. Made by elk? Or by human visitors?