|Lone Pine, awaiting but the lightning stroke|
That old pine tree had stood at its post since before I ever came to the Klamath Basin in 1963. I was a lad of no more than 6 or 7 when my neighbor, Mr. Carlisle pointed it out to me. "See up there, Dade? See that lonely tree up there?" he said. We stood in the driveway of my family's house on Bryant Street in Molina Heights. I could barely make out a figure high atop Hog's Back's massive hump. It seemed forlorn and bent, like an old soldier, leaning on a crutch. "That's Lone Pine," he told me.
Some years later, Brother Eric and I and our friend Gregg Goestch determined to make a hike up to see the old soldier, perhaps to press our hands against his rough bark, to tread on his fallen needles. It was late spring, as I recall and the weather was as seasonable as it gets in that high and dry basin. The three of us filled our Cub Scout canteens, packed lunches made by Mom, and set out up the slopes of Hog's Back to see if we might reach Lone Pine.
We were several hours climbing. The slopes were steep and we hadn't the sense to pick the easiest path. We took what we imagined to be the most direct route. It was a tough climb, I remember, especially for boys from 7 to 9 years old.
We descended into a fold in the mountain and lost sight of our goal for a long while. But then we emerged onto a rough plateau. Patches of snow still lingered in the shaded places and it was much colder up there than it had been on the basin floor. I was first to make the height and I when I looked up, I saw Lone Pine, still above us and more than a mile off, but much closer than when we had lost sight of it. "Lone Pine!" I cried, and set out at a renewed pace.
But Gregg and Eric had had enough. "It's cold," said Gregg, hugging himself. "I wanna go home," said Eric. And we had strayed rather far. My morale failed me and I relented. "Alright, let's go," I said. We turned around and headed back down.
|Lone Pine is down.|
"Lone Pine is down."
All things must pass. Nonetheless, I'm heartbroken. And a part of me is defeated.
Lone Pine is down.