Saturday, June 6, 2009

Beckey Rules

As a wilderness ranger for the U.S. Forest Service, I patrolled the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness on the Malheur National Forest and the Glacier Peak Wilderness (below) and Alpine Lakes Wilderness on the Wenatchee National Forest.

During my time on the Wenatchee National Forest, I discovered the Cascade Alpine Guide by Fred Beckey (above, right), the definitive three-volume description of the mountains from the Canadian border to the Columbia River.

"Definitive" is an understatement. Describing routes in excruciating detail, his prose is delightful mix of technical analysis, historical insight, and geological and geographical research. Indeed, the Cascade Alpine Guide covers the terrain in such intricate detail, you'd swear he's been everywhere he writes about. In many cases, he has.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mountain Magic

Back in the '70s and early '80s, I worked as a seasonal employee for the U.S. Forest Service. Seemed like a fun and interesting way to work my way through college.

After working as a tour guide on the boat tours at Crater Lake National Park, I was hired as a forestry technician on the Malheur National Forest and was based in Prairie City, Oregon. I worked a number of jobs over the course of my time there, including firefighting crew and wilderness ranger.

After a season on the Malheur, I was hired on the Wenatchee National Forest, where I would work for the next eight seasons in a variety of capacities. My favorite job was wilderness ranger where my chief duties included roaming the backcountry, checking wilderness permits, packing and posting signs and packing out garbage.

Life as a backcountry ranger otherwise meant being the eyes and the ears of the U.S. Forest Service for the wilderness they were charged to manage. Needless to say, opportunities for adventure were endless.