By Tom Groenewal
Sunday, December 29, 1991
It is 7 a.m., still dark. A mostly clear sky is showing through high thin clouds and there is clearing in patches. Temp is near 40 degrees with a slight wind. I turn on Forest Service Road 29 for two miles, pass the confluence of the North Fork Calawah and the South Fork Sitkum, a few bends later I turn south on Forest Service Road 2932 up to Elk Ridge.
Elk Ridge is a clear cut with a great view for miles out onto snow-capped ridges of the Olympics a few miles to the east and to the ocean 20 miles to the west. Small white clouds of fog hug the ground and disappear into the trees. Clouds move through the forest and sometimes slide over entire peaks smothering them in a dense layer of Pacific Northwest fog.
Big trees are leaving the Elk Ridge area. This area is part of the Sol Duc Ranger District, a place where still standing are trees 80-100s of years old creating beautiful mature forests.
Logging has been happening in the area for years. Clear cut areas where replanting has occurred shows new trees ranging from 1 to 15-20 years. A skyline logging operation across the valley is quietly waiting for Monday to continue cutting and hauling away trees.
Sitting on a stump five feet in diameter I hear a distinct whine of ATV’s working their way up the 2932 road below me. Within a few minutes they near the gate where my truck is parked. I can see them stop at the gate down below and talk to each other over the noise of the engines. I can only pick out certain words, but one that stood out most clearly came when someone said “environmentalist.” My heart starts pumping a little faster. Not again! I’m getting tired of the environmentalist thing. It’s rude.
I search out a club in case they are looking to get stupid. They turn and come up the spur road that leads to the peak where I am sitting. When they reach the top, I wave and nod to them as they circle me and my club. A few motions between them, maybe pointing in my direction and maybe saying they should throw me off the peak. Another loop around the peak and they roar off down the hill but stop 50 yards away. That’s the guy with the truck, one of them yells to the rest. Not my truck. Leave me alone. They motion again and take off down the hill and disappear from sight and sound.