The fog was so thick she could barely make out the guardrail running along the cliff edge like a fence. She hunched forward over the wheel. Every time the ground around Last Chance Creek crumbled off into the ocean, mudslide taking a section of the coast highway with it, Caltrans talked about rerouting the road inland.
"The real timber's gone," Lark said. "What's left, ten percent, including the parks? Two thousand years to grow a forest, a hundred years to fall it. No plague like a man."
They rode in silence up the crumbling highway along the ocean, asphalt pot-holed from the weight of loaded log trucks, winding along the narrow strip of coastal timber the park had annexed back in '68. Big trees hugged the road edge like mink trim sewn to a burlap coat, hiding the clear-cuts that lay just beyond.
Redwoods towered, disappearing into the fog above. So that was why Rich had brought them. He wanted Chub to stand here looking up at these giant pillars, ferns taller than he was, rhododendrons jeweled with dew, ground quilted with sorrel, to breathe it in before it was gone.
The plane's engine noise buzzed inside his chest, a hundred McCulloch chainsaws revving at once. They'd flown over 24-7 Ridge, the big tree herself lit by an errant ray of sun, glowing orange, bright as a torch, and, for an instant, Rich had caught a glimmer of the inholding's potential--an island of private land in a sea of company forest. They'd flown over the dark waves of big pumpkins in Damnation Grove--redwoods older than the United States of America, saplings when Christ was born. Then came the patchwork of clear-cuts, like mange on a dog, timber felled and bucked and debarked, trucked to the mill, sawed into lumber, sent off to the kilns to be dried.
"...Chopper sprays places trucks can't. Forest Service hoses their timberlands once in March or April, then calls it good, but Sanderson sprays all season, whenever we're working. Spray kills the weeds and trash trees--broadleaf plants--everything that gets in our way. It's a growth hormone--hops them up so they grow so fast they die."