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Sunrise Services from the Fort

On June 27, 2004, I hiked down the hill from my place into the little eden along Turkey Creek where I go to "church". I left about 30 min before sunrise. Its a steep hill, about 1.2 miles each way but the going downhill part is cake, so I was in the woods in less than 15 minutes. The water was running high from spring melt and I could hear it long before I even got close to the creek. I can tell not many people have been on the path that leads to the fort, as the weeds were tall and anyone else would have been stumbling around. Since I know the way by heart in the dark, my footfalls were slow and quiet. Heaven forbid I disturb the forest residents. It didnt take very long before I was soaked to my knees from the morning dew. Once inside the fort, I sat in silence, listening to the birds and the rushing water, contemplating what I should do next with my life. This is my church and I made it just in time for sunrise services.

The fort is a structure Mother Nature made, not me. It was made by a tree at the base of the creek that forms a natural eddy along the waters edge on one side. The opposite side of the creek is a 40 ft wall of dirt, testament to how high the water must roar through there from time to time during the spring melt. Fossils stick out here and there from the dirt embankment, and I often practice my sling shot talents on targets sticking out of the dirt. At the base of the tree, is a grape vine that is as big around as a 55 gallon drum at the bottom. The vine covers this tree as well as many others about a 1/2 mile up and down both sides of the creek. She must be ancient, for I have never seen a wild grape vine with such a huge trunk in any of my travels. A few clippings from this vine now flourish in my own garden. The branches of this one particular tree (I dont know what species tree) have formed a kind of roof over the eddy over which the grape vine grows. The entrance is a small tunnel down under the branches where rocks have formed a natural staircase. The tunnel down is rather small, but once inside a person of my height can stand up with no problem.

About once a month during the winter, I would hike down to the fort to make some repairs. Heavy snow brings down alot of dead limbs from all the trees and I would use those I found lying on the ground nearby to weave ito the holes and gaps along the walls and roof. I had not visited the fort in daylight in well over a month. Just as I had hoped, the vine has now grown over my patches and the fort is now waterproof inside! The back door of the fort, that faces the creek, has been thankfully concealed by so much vine already, that campers on the other side cannot tell its really there. Careful placement of logs and other debris on the top side has concealed the front entrance as well, and for the first time in the 4 years since Ive been visiting the fort, I found no beer cans inside. Campers are pigs sometimes.

Yesterday, we had very heavy rains here in the afternoon. More than 2" rained in as many hours. After being in a drought for the last 3 years or so, the water kind of went where it wanted, all creeks well over their banks, flooding a ton of homes nearby, putting golf courses under water, and stranding stupid motorists etc. Weatherman calls for the same forecast today and the remainder of the week as well. Turkey Creek busted her banks yesterday so Im certain the fort got the same treatment as many of the homes along the creeks that flooded all over the foothills. But Mother Nature has made sure that my chuurch will still be there long after the water subsides. I just may have to wear my rubbers next time.

 

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