"This isn't looking familiar, but I think we're going in the right way," I announced as I continued hacking through an alder saplings with a machete. My jeans were drenched from 45 mins of hiking on a compass bearing through dense second growth forest that more closely resembled canopy jungle than a Pacific Northwest forest.
Landon, Bill and Tucker acknowledged my reassurance with silence and continued their personal battles crawling over and under saplings. The rain had subsided, but the trees, ferns and bushes held water like a paint brush. Stopping, I thrust the machete into a moss covered stump and pulled a rumpled up waterproof topo map with a handful of GPS coordinates highlighted in red from the pocket of my fleece.
"Tucker... I think this is where we are," I said, pointing towards a small plateau indicated by a U-shaped flat spot on the map.
Tucker looked up and scanned the surroundings. "It's pretty fucking tough to see whats going on here, but, yah that looks about right,"
"Do you hear that creek?" Faintly, over the constant dripping of water off of the fooliage, the sound of a small creek rushing through rocks was thinly audible.
"Yah, I do. Barely."
Pulling the machete out of the rotting stump, I chopped down a Devil's Club with a deft swipe. "Be careful of this shit," I said holding up a section of the recently severed Devi's Club with the tip of the machete before flicking it to the side.
Fifteen years earlier, I spent time in the same woods with my Boy Scout troop, working on trails and building a makeshift camp. The second growth forest had grown considerably in that time and the trails had faded from a group of 12's year olds most sincere attempts at trail design to obscurity. The only mark of civilization was the lingering evidence of logging; giant old growth stumps, the occasional road cut and sporadic steel cable rusting away at the hands of 70 inches of annual rainfall.
Taking a break from the progress at The Cinder Cone, we loaded into Lando's pick up and headed to the southern tip of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest during a break in the fall rain. Inspired by childhood days spent building forts, we brought food and minimal camping gear with the intention of building a shelter to protect us from the forcast rain.
Lando, time warped from 1971.
We found a clearing in the early afternoon and set off to work.
Starting a fire form the leftovers from the night before's fire.
Rise and shine.
We constructed the shelter out of alder logs and used lap joints with a few Gerber Hatchets, a folding saw and a machete.
Tucker owns this DVD.
The American Boys Hand Book was one of my favorites as a kid and has tons of plans for forts, boats and other good ways to spend a day in the woods.
We framed the fort between three conveniently located Y-shaped alders. The platform was triangle shaped with a square, A-framed roof. We built the roof out of layers of ferns, maple leaves, and branches.
We worked feverishly for four hours, finishing the roof shorty after sunset. Passing out after a gorging on a dinner cooked on rocks, I prepared for the arrival of the predicted rain. Waking up, I rolled over and looked at the fire, the last remnants of a log were melting in to ash. Unzipping my sleeping bag, I jumped down to take a piss. There wasn't a cloud in the sky.
"Guess we didn't need this fort after all," I thought to myself as I stared up at the stars through the Alder tree canopy. The chilly October night ended my star gazing. I grabbed handful of logs and threw them on the fire before sliding back into my sleeping bag.
Here are some more links,