By Larry Rea
“Ralph and I followed up on an old hiker’s story I had found on Google Earth. There was a photograph of an old mill pond that I thought was full of old growth logs . . . they looked huge. I talked him into going to find them.
My friend Ralph Anderson is a “big tree guy.” He spent his working lifetime as a carpenter and has a love for anything to do with trees . . . especially the biggest trees of any species. He has traveled the world looking at big trees. I knew he would be interested in this old mill pond, now drained, containing old growth Douglas fir logs.
We met the next morning at six and headed for the summit of the coast range to the historic logging town of Cochran and hopefully the Douty Mill Pond.
Near the summit we found a man (let’s call him Steve), walking along the Cochran Road. We stopped to talk. Steve informed us he was about to close the road because he was digging drains and placing culverts. The road would be impassable until he finished his work. To paraphrase William Bendix in the old “Life of Riley” radio show, that was a revolting development!
The question was, if we continued forward could we get back out?
Steve explained that if we knew our way around there were other logging roads that could provide an exit. Then he mentioned it would only be closed for about three hours if we could wait that long.
We could. In fact, our project might take most of the day. So, electing to continue our search for the Douty Mill Pond, we continued forward . . . the road closed behind us.
Though I had found a likely location for the pond on Google Earth and had a hiker’s vague description, we didn’t find the pond at any of our best guesses and the terrain was too rugged for random exploration.
We were ready to admit defeat and leave, when a pickup came up the road. The driver was an elk hunter who lived nearby. When we told him about our search, he knew about the mill pond and offered to lead us to it. We accepted his offer.
We had been within an eighth of a mile from the pond and missed it. With our newfound friend as a guide, we were on our way to a successful conclusion for our field trip.
The logs were not nearly as big as they looked in the photo. We had guessed at seven to eight feet in diameter but in reality they measured three to four feet.
We weren’t disappointed. We had a day filled with adventure and serendipity.
Photos by Larry Rea; more a taxaflora.com