Leave This Forest Now!

Deep in the Olympic Mountains in western Washington on May 23, 2012 just before dawn six four wheel drive trucks stopped in front of the Forest Road #231 gate. The driver of the lead vehicle got out and in the glare of his headlights; he used his bolt cutters to cut off the heavy padlock. The last vehicle passing through the gate stopped momentarily and put a new padlock on the gate and caught up to the vehicles ahead of him.

These weren’t illegal poachers out to kill elk before hunting season. These twelve men were after something much more profitable. Instead of rifles, these men carried saws and heavy work gloves. They had come to cut down old growth timber. They planned to make several trips up this remote mountain road, re-locking their padlock each time until they had cut down enough timber to equal eight logging truck loads of logs.

Their plan was simple. Drive their logging trucks to another county with false logging documents and sell the timber to a saw mill. No one lived up in these mountains or so they thought as they drove higher and higher up the seven mile long road. Even though there was a remote chance a game warden or forestry agent might drive past the locked gate below, as long as they could see the gate was locked they wouldn’t stop.

When the lead truck would encounter a fallen tree across the road, he simply tied his winch cable around the log and put his truck in reverse and backed up slowly. They either pushed the tree off the road or took a chain saw and cut it into pieces that could be rolled off the road. Their destination was a peaceful valley which was surrounded on three sides with old growth timber.

It was the perfect location for the men to split up into six-two man teams. Holding onto a two-man bucking saw to cut through a 20-inch diameter trees, there would be no sounds from chainsaw echoing through the mountains. With untold thousands of dollars in timber to be hauled down the mountain with a ‘look-out’ down at the main road, using their walkie-talkie’s they were 100% sure they would reach the main road unchallenged.

Each of the five logging trucks laden with stolen logs would be carrying falsified work orders saying where they got the timber if in the off chance a Washing State trooper turned on his blue lights to check their documentation. The man running the logging theft ring intended to strip all three sides of the hillsides of their valuable timber. It would be hard earned money to say the least.

When the lead vehicles headlights showed the entrance to the valley he turned on his left turn signal and the other five trucks followed him. It wasn’t sun up yes so they remained in their vehicles, occasionally turning their engine on to warm themselves. Frank Hoosier was the master-mind and the men who worked for him were all seasoned loggers. They had all worked for the Simpson Logging Company in Shelton before they were laid off when the government banned cutting down old growth timber.

When it was light enough, all the men got out of their trucks and gathered around Frank’s truck. Everyone had a heavy jacket on and many had a hot cup of coffee held in their hands. They had plenty of food to eat. One wouldn’t think that a dozen men could strip a forest of as much timber as these men could. With them they had brought bucking saws which were six feet long each with a six inch wide blade.

Each saw had a heavy, stiff flatground blade with razor sharp teeth. Used with experienced hands, two men could cut down twenty trees a day easily. With six teams of loggers that came to 160 trees or more per day as long as they kept their saws sharpened. They would start with the trees closest to the bottom of each hill so that each subsequent log would roll its way down below easily. Frank owned a large skid steer loader which could lift each log onto one of the five logging trucks he was going to rent.

Using a 1997 Caterpillar logging truck loader skidder tag trailer, Frank would make loading each log weighing up to 20,000 pounds look easy. Each log could be up to 36 inches in diameter. There was plenty of area to park their vehicles too. Once all the timber had been cut down Frank would bring his log skidder up the mountain. Then with it he’d get all the logs grouped together to fit on his logging trucks.

Frank knew it was all just a matter of timing and using two trucks as look outs on the road below to let him know it was clear and then the five logging trucks would come down the mountain. Once they hit asphalt, even if stopped by the state patrol, he had no worries. As the men surveyed the hillsides each one smiled. All they saw were $100 dollar bills, lots of them.

They wouldn’t be smiling though as they held one end of the bucksaw. Sweat would pour down their face; their shoulders would ache as would their backs. Once it was bright enough to get to sawing they went to the back of their trucks, grabbed their gloves and bucksaws and headed in different directions. Frank expected the tree cutting to take seven to ten days, depending on how greedy he wanted to be.

Frank believed he had worked out every possible problem he and his men would encounter but he was wrong. East of the valley just inside the high tree line was a small cabin and inside that cabin lived a tall, slender witch. She was in her thirties and had long white hair almost down to her waist. Though she didn’t hear the sounds of the men’s saws below, she did hear the sound of the first tree as it shook the earth when it fell.

With a large black crow perched on her shoulder she walked to the edge of the heavily treed hillside and looked down. She knew what they were doing and she wasn’t going to allow them to scar mother earth. She would have to intervene and make them leave. Yet in doing so, she knew that if she did, that others could return and try to make her leave the place she had called home for more than five years.

Yet she was determined in her goal to make the loggers leave if for only one reason. If the men below her worked their way up the steep hillside high enough, they would discover her cabin. That was a risk she wasn’t willing to allow to happen. As she looked at the crow on her shoulder, she stroked its back and whispered something to it before watching it fly off. Slowly the crow circled the valley and all who had intruded.

When the crow returned to her cabin, it flew through the open window and landed on a perch beside the witch’s table. On her table were a variety of potions, herbs, bowls and spoons surrounding her spell book. Patiently she turned the pages of her book looking for different spells she could use against the men below. If she ‘encouraged’ them through mishaps that it was better for them to leave her mountain she could live in peace.

The first spell she cast was one which broke the bucksaw blades the loggers used. It was unusual for the 6” blades to break. That’s why Frank had his men use them. After she cast her spell, she stood beside some brush and looked down below as another tree shook the ground when it fell. Suddenly, the two pair of men on her hillside using their bucksaws abruptly stopped sawing when their blades broke.

Carefully they made their way down the slippery brush tangled hillside to their truck and replaced their saw blades and headed back up the hill. The witch looked down at the men as her left hand reached down and she stroked the back of a grey timber wolf. Again, the men’s saw blades broke and she could hear their cursing as she felt herself smile.

She watched the men make their way to where Frank was sawing and as they yelled at him, they pointed to their buck saws. The next thing that happened was that two of the loggers sawing a tree watched the tree fall extremely close to the other two man team near them and they yelled out loudly, “Watch out!” Had the tree fallen six to eight feet closer to them they would have been killed.

As those two men made their way awkwardly to the men who had cut the tree that almost killed them, an argument broke out. Tempers were flaring and it took Frank to intervene and calm everyone down. All of the men knew or had heard of men who had died from a tree falling on them. Once everyone had calmed down, they went back to work. The witch decided the men needed a little more encouragement to leave so she knelt down and whispered in the wolf’s ear and pointed down below.

The wolf made it look easy to slip between brush, trees and fallen logs as it made its way around the hillside. When it reached a well worn deer trail, it followed it to a higher ridge and let out a howl.
As soon as the timber wolf began to howl all the men looked above them. One by one the men turned and looked at each other. None of them had a rifle or a pistol. After three or four howl’s, another wolf began to howl from a different part of the mountain and then another.

Quickly the twelve men made their way off the sides of the hills and stood beside their trucks. Frank talked to the men hoping to reassure them that the wolves weren’t necessarily going to come down to the valley and were probably on the scent of a deer on one of the many deer trails. But Frank soon learned he was mistaken. When the men saw a dozen wolves coming out of the tree line single file towards them they ran to their trucks.

Had for some reason the men’s trucks been locked or parked further away, they would have been ripped to pieces as the wolves ran at the men. They had barely made it inside their trucks when the wolves began jumping up at their door windows growling. There wasn’t a man among them that wasn’t scared at that moment. As the witch on the hill side looked down in amusement she knew her victory would be short.

As each trucks engine turned over, one by one they made their way down the mountain. She knew they would return and this time come with guns. As quickly as the wolves had entered the valley she watched them disappear back into the trees. That’s when she felt herself smile from ear to ear. In their haste to leave, they had left all six of their bucksaws behind.

When they came back with pistols or hunting rifles, they’d be expecting to find their saws exactly where they had laid them down. The witch made her way down the hill side and one by one she found their bucksaws. She walked further up the mountain road and tossed them over the side of the road down into the brush where they would never find them.

As her wolf companion re-joined her along the road she knelt down and with both hands hugged him and rubbed his neck. By the time she made it back to her cabin she was practically laughing. Just the thought of watching the men becoming angry at searching and searching, unable to find their saws made her laugh. She would watch as they once again drove back down the mountain.

But the value of the timber they had come to steal would drive them to return no matter what she did to stop them. Once more she turned the pages of her spell book. There had to be a spell which she could cast to send them down the mountain and never return again. As her finger moved down the page, it stopped and she tapped her finger on the page several times.

She had found a ‘nightmare spell.’ This just might be what she needed to persuade them in their dreams not to come back. She could draw energy from their fears and that would make her spell even more powerful. She went to another table and brought back a black candle and set it down near her. Then she tore a piece of it off symbolizing Frank’s dreams.

“Let your dreams turn to terror
with nothing but fear and pain
Nightmares and horrors will haunt
you each time you close your eyes
You know that death awaits you for
the forest has endured your saws
The forest will come alive and the
wolves will taste your blood
Return not to this valley because
you will only find death here”

When she finished her spell, she threw the piece of black candle into the fireplace. By the time Frank stopped his truck in front of the iron poled gate and got out to unlock it, he was spitting mad. He had it all planned out to cut down the logs, load them up and sell them. Now that was delayed. And by what? A pack of wolves?