Summer time isn’t meant to be all work and no play! Read on to learn how wilderness ranger Jimmy Pardo spends his free time.
I’m literally typing this in the woods. I’m currently camping at Rock Creek Reservoir, southwest of the Barlow Ranger Station, and southeast of Mt. Hood. The lake is dammed up and used for irrigating nearby farm land. It’s getting later in the summer so it’s really low and the fish are pretty hungry. After getting our fishing licenses, my girlfriend, Kristyn, and I loaded up on thrift store fishing gear from the Dalles. Driving out to the Reservoir was great. I really enjoy seeing Mt. Hood from the east side and approaching it from different angles. In Ty Valley they are having a county fair, complete with a rodeo and DEMOLITION DERBY!!! That’s happening tomorrow and after catching some fish in the morning, we will definitely be catching that too.
NEXT DAY: I called it. We caught three rainbow trout early in the morning and soaked in the great view till noon. About the time we were going to leave, we saw a massive Bald Eagle flying low over the river. It landed nearby on a tall dead tree. We had to pay him a visit and see if he would drop a feather for us. Sadly he wasn’t signing any autographs, but he did let us take his photo and the one I captured as he flew overhead is just as good as any feather.
These past few months I have been collecting feathers and really enjoy stumbling upon them in the woods. Feathers have been used for many things, but I find their native use as a tool for speaking to be very intriguing. The idea is that when you hold a feather and speak, your words are carried as far and high as the bird of whichever feather you carry. You can understand why a Native Chief would want to hold an Eagle feather, allowing his words to fly higher, further, and with greater vision towards those he is speaking to. I was honored just to see one in the wild.
After packing up our tent we made off for Tygh Valley to get our slushy fix at the local gas station. I asked about the demolition derby and sure enough it was not far. We went to the fairgrounds and caught the final battle between the remaining demo cars. It was epic. Country folk really know how to… party? It was so loud and muddy. You might think… “that’s not really eco-friendly” or “somebody’s going to get hurt out there.” That may be so, but the whole community flocks to see bull riders, mutton busters (look that up – you won’t regret it) and demolition derby. It was AWESOME. Young guys had put a lot of work into these junk-yard beasts and were trying desperately to knock out the other vehicles. One car, after being smashed into submission burst into flames! The volunteer fire crew quickly put it out. The driver jumped out and waved the crowd on. They roared and it started up again shortly after. What a show!
On Monday Mack and I head back into Little Badger to do what we do best. Trail Bucking. Let’s face it. Not to boast or anything, but we are the cream of the bucking crop and we got that stats to prove it. We have literally cut through the equivalent of half a football field of tree. No big deal. On Little Badger trail alone we cut something like 52 trees! Proud? Oh yeah. We rock it when we clear trail and even when it comes to making trail, you can ride our stellar work on the new Super-Connector Trail in Brooks Meadow, which is getting closer and closer to completion.
As you can read, we do a little bit of everything, trail clearing, trail making, visitor contacts, and next month we will be presenting to the District who we are and what we have been up to. Our presentation will be online and available to the public, complete with photos, stats, and an overview of the groups that make it possible for us to be here. In addition to being multi-talented on the job, I feel more and more empowered to do the things outside of work that make me feel like a growing part of the community. Building a ukulele with Ho’okipa Ukuleles, in Dufur is such an awesome experience and I am more than halfway done with mine. The music (inspired) here is like a river, slow, calm, and very peaceful. And the clarity that this place gives is a rare blessing. I hope to stay over the winter and continue to embody nature and echo its music to places that really need it. Of all the things one can do… working to protect, maintain, and extend wilderness, while learning to build ukes (and occasionally fishing) sounds like a wonderful task.