Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Philosphical Sidenotes

Today's hike was a little different than others in the fact that I spent more time enjoying the journey itself and took more time to take in the view. I tend to be in a Zen mode on the ascent, not thinking of anything, not paying attention to the surrounding area......I'm so fixated on the trail and reaching the summit or what ever goal I've set for myself, I miss the journey all together. Prime example was on the descent today, I didn't realize that about 50 yards of trail had a railing. I was so intent on the journey up, my mind didn't even register the fact. There have been moments on return hikes where I almost wonder if I'm on the correct trail since it looks so different on the return. Today spending time hiking with George and Brad kind of broadened my view of the area, as well as taking time at the summit to look around and enjoy what I'm seeing, rather than just feeling the satisfaction of reaching the top. My Zen meditation mode of clearing my head is fine, but I need to learn how to widen my focus to truly enjoy the trip.

The opposite is true when I'm descending a trail, I kick into a strange self analytical mode when I'm heading downhill. Its as if everything I've pushed from my mind on the way up comes flooding back with a vengeance on the way down. Lately its been an internal struggle with the duality of the human mind, and these days its been my own. I come from an agricultural and logging background, and learned from a young age to be an "outdoorsman", a hunter-gather way of thinking. Growing up I learned how to hunt and fish, survival and navigation skills, and how to live off the land. That was the way I wanted to be growing up, it was a lifestyle that suited me. In one way or another, most of my life and livelihood has revolved around timber and agriculture. My grandfather on my moms side was a farmer and later a logger, my dads family had a farm until my grandfather on that side passed away (well before I was born). My own father worked as a forester with the USFS for 30+ years in the timber department. I grew up looking at the forest as a great resource, that if properly managed, would bring prosperity to small communities and much needed goods to the rest of the country. Key words here is properly managed.

As time moved on, I could start seeing that things were not always what they seemed. In the late 80's, we moved back to Alaska, because most logging on Federal land was being shut down and closed off by these "crazy environmentalists" that I thought were ruining it for the rest of us. Years go by, the same situations start working their way North, and I kept feeling this anger toward those that threatened my livelihood buy "shutting down" the timber industry. Then I gained some clarity when the Ketchikan Pulp Mill shut down. It was more about greed than anything, greed on the corporate end of things, and in the process, thousands of people were hurt. It wasn't the environmentalist shutting down the timber, it was corporate greed overstepping its bounds. It came around again when a group bought up the KP mill properties to bring a veneer mill in, promising to revitalize the timber industry in the area. That ran for about a year and shut down, most of the executives lined their pockets with local tax dollars and federal subsidies, and put people out of work again.

Now that I've seen these thing happen, and have seen the small family companies get hurt in the process, I begin to find the internal conflict in me. My dad and my grandpa are my hero's, they shaped who I am today. I then find that I have two historic figures I look up to, and this is when I see my duality because of the two being mortals enemies: Gifford Pinchot and John Muir. I look up to Pinchot as the man who opened up the West, in his effort to provide the greatest good to the greatest number. Then I see what Muir was saying the whole time......... its a handful of peoples greed that could destroy it for the majority of the population. I see both as I hike along through the forest, if it wasn't for one of them bringing about the building of roads into the wild areas to bring out the natural resources, then I wouldn't have the access to those places today. I also see what mismanagement and greed brings to the table, but along with it the ridiculous notion that shutting it off from everyone is the right answer.  Where do we find the balance, or do we ever?

Decided to edit to add a slightly uplifting tune.

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