The ghost town of Monte Cristo

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This morning at work the past Summer replayed in my mind. So much happened in a short period of time. Then I come back to my surroundings. Working under huge silver firs. They stand majestically, long past a human life, until they too crumble into dirt.

When I step outside of my own mental chatter and view these monoliths I am reminded at my own impermanence. The challenges I face, melt away into the trail tread alongside these ancient 200+ year old trees. I smile at the absurdity of the human condition.

People hiking past us, are headed to Gothic Basic, Poodle Dog Pass, and the ghost town of Monte Cristo. They seem to all share a sense of adventure. I feel it to, but in my own quiet way on this new trail 6 hours from my home.

A week has gone by since arriving from Bellingham. The familiarity of our work is coming back. It feels good to be out of the office and earning our living, with my parents and uncle doing the work they have been doing since before I was born.

Tonight, writing in the dying light I’m at home in the front seat of my truck. The mess that is at times our lives can cloud profoundly simple things to be grateful for. Such as, the smiling warmth of my uncle and parents or that at 33, I am alive and happy, quietly reflecting on my chosen profession, while the soft white moon rises above the tree tops.

Indian Creek Trail

Completing a project gives me a lot of joy. The view of these two bridges and large timber wall almost done this week in Hood River. August heat is joyfully oppressive with sweat dripping off the tips of our noses.

I’m grateful that I have been raised in a family business that provides opportunities to give all of ourselves on a regular basis. A grounding force in life for me is to work together with a team creating durable long lasting products that encourage others to get outside. I’m incredibly honored to be working with my mom and dad in this capacity.

My parents come from a long line of farmers and woods workers. They built their first trail in 1979. I am grateful for the dynasty they have methodically built over decades. Its helped provide outdoor access to countless people around the Pacific Northwest.

Today we are surrounded by this beautiful forest along the Indian Creek in Hood River. We are in town but it feels like we are in the deep forest far away from city streets. Its a wonderful feeling.
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Oaks Bottom Bluff Trail

 

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Trail building touches my soul. We often live close to our trail projects, thus creating a connection to the land that is far from our home. A walk or short drive to our work site. This has deepened my love for the Pacific Northwest and the people who live here, in rural and urban settings. The smell of a forest in the city, has that same cool, musky magic that I enjoy in the national forests. The light that cascades through green leaves. In this context, a home, becomes a relative term.
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A few years ago we reconstructed the Oaks Bottom Bluff Trail, in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland. I remember driving through busy city streets to the project for the first time. Our construction camp was tucked against the hill in such a way that the city disappeared along with those crowded streets.
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The sounds of dozens of quacking ducks came late at night. There was rain that turned colder as Fall became early Winter. Locals walking their dogs while watching the leaves turn. It was a beautiful place to call home for 4 months and I’m grateful when I get to return as a tourist.
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Twin Oaks Trails and my mom

This is a picture of my mom, Krista in the early 1980’s. The amount of dedication that she and my dad have put in over nearly 40 years of trail building business is what inspires me to push so hard every day. I’m grateful for all that she continues to do to help out as we transition into the 2nd generation of business ownership.

 

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Home

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I live on the land where I was raised. The smell of the soil is familiar to me. I can walk the pathways without light in the dark. I have created relationships with the trees and the slope of the ground. The sound of the highway and the way wind whistles through those 100 ft pines. I have come to value our shared history of 30 years living next to the same people. Our friends. #home

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I realize that I am trying to explain something deeper than words about living here. There is a spot in my heart that knows this is home. Home. Its a place I envision living out my life. Raising a family. Watching the world go by. The gratitude I have for this land is difficult to put into words.
We come from a family, generations old that has earned their income from working outside. While I have tried living in the city, and traveled a bit…my hometown of 2,200 people next to a giant river, in the Pacific Northwest is where I day dream and grow. This land is apart of my identity.

Canemah Bluff Trail wrap up

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There is a Spring like warmth to the air as frogs serenade my dad and I tonight. We are putting the finishing touches on our project in Oregon City. The Canemah Bluff Natural area overlooks Willamette Falls and the monolithic crumbling buildings of the former Mill on the eastern banks of the majestic river. Change is all around me in 2016 both in my professional and family life. The preciousness of each moment is cradled by this beautiful 330 acre park, this historical town and local region. #twinoakstrails
Oregon City has a long history in the American West. From before recorded time Native Americans have used the area for trade and living. The European Americans settlers used the town as the official end of the Oregon Trail. Today there is evidence of this grand history amidst a city working hard to find it’s modern identity. #twinoakstrails
Staying with local friends in Oregon City has been super awesome. We have had an insiders view into the town and some of its history and now with our project mostly finished we look forward to returning to this town as guests. #twinoakstrailsDSCN0635.JPG

Lake Serene Trail Project

In the mid 1990’s my parents contracted with the U.S. Forest Service, to build the main hiking trail to Lake Serene, Washington. In the shadow of Mt. Index, the spectacular views leave a lasting impression. Remembering myself as a 12 year old, the majesty of the Cascade Mountain Range thundered through that boy’s body. Our family will forever be connected to that beautiful, ancient forest, deep blue lake, rugged mountain range and the local people we met throughout our project there.

 

Through torrential rain storms, we lived in a small trailer and VW camping van at the end of a 2 mile bumpy driveway. Past where the public could park, we commuted on foot a ½ mile to the trailhead each day for work. I slept in our VW, while my mom and dad shared the trailer. I remember most was the sound of the intense rain, thundering down on our trailer, while the mist swirled around the tall evergreen trees. When the rain stopped the forest smells came alive, tantalizing our senses. To this day, I am in love with the smell of rain.

 

The Lake Serene Trail was completed over 4 trail building seasons or 3 ½ years. Our team of family and friends built 2.5 miles of new trail with 1500 feet elevation gain. My parents, with the help of family and friends constructed an extensive network of 500 wooden stairs, custom cut cedar boardwalks and a 60 foot steel I-beam bridge flown in pieces with a large Chinook double prop helicopter. Daily blasting carved the ribbon of trail winding through the devil’s club entwined boulders and bedrock of the mountain.

 

For our family and friends that helped build this trail, the physical exertion needed to complete this project was huge. Knowing that the area is well loved by thousands of hikers annually is a quiet compliment to the designers, the US. Forest Service and the people that helped us build the trail. What I remember most as a 12 year old boy are the months of rain, clouds of bugs and quality time spent with my mom and dad in one of the prettiest corners of Washington State.