East Fork of My Life

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The East Fork of Brandywine Creek winds through rural southeastern Pennsylvania. Its sandy bends and hardwood forest were Troop 79’s private wilderness for endless adventures wandering its banks finding arrowheads, deep pools, perfect walking sticks and new camps. Exploring mere miles of the creek, its sinuosity offered more adventure than a young boy could ever exhaust.

Our backwoods ethic included packing out garbage and we left “no trace” of our campsite, camp fire or latrine. Our group goal was to leave every site better than we found it – still my goal today.

We hardly saw sign of people, only old rock walls coursing through the forest. Rarely our adventures lead us near someone’s home. Oddly, I cannot remember knowing who owned these places we treasured – may have well been us given the care and loving treatment we provided.

On arrival in Oregon, early forays seeking steelhead discovered the lovely Kalama River where emerald green waters tumbled over basalt ledges, conifers towered and big leaf maples embraced the riverside. Mossy turnouts, lightly tread footpaths and secret pools. I felt again I was on the Brandywine.

After fishing elsewhere for a decade I returned to find chain link fences, trophy homes, manicured lawns, trespassing signs and aggressive landowners. The Kalama was no more.

Those who love the Kalama, and other landscapes like it, must honor our access to the outdoors, come to know who owns the places we treasure, and in partnership contribute to the stewardship of these treasures.

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