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Spring fever We at the Graydon Reserve, ever optimistic, have become infected with the euphoria that bubbles up in spring. Everything is possible. Don will build a little teahouse at Rosebud Meadow. Jonelle will create her field guide to the plants and flowers of the reserve. We will host the Forest Bacchanal of Sound, Video and Installation Art. We will discover a realistic route to the Dark Tower. When the bubbles burst, we’ll turn to our practical list: clean the septic tank filter, repair the footbridge hit by a falling alder, sealcoat the asphalt driveway. By the time the snows come, we hope to look back on spring and summer 2010 with the same satisfaction that we remember 2009. Last year’s long hot summer brought welcome changes. The new interior of Cantina del Rio—in primal red, green, blue and yellow—fairly demands that you come in for a beer. The serpentine, all 110 feet of it, became a sculptural reality in Emily’s Park. We now have a good swimming hole right off the firepit, thanks to the everchanging course of the river. Penny Lane got its own street sign, straight out of Liverpool, and in the woods, walkers now encounter a sign that looks suspiciously official: “Wild Sky Wilderness—Graydon Reserve.” (See pages 6 and 7 for photos.)



Upward bound Time marches on, and so does Index 

RE-OPEN THE BUSH HOUSE The Bush House sits along Index Avenue, bedraggled and forlorn like an abandoned cat. To say the hotel has seen better days is a wild understatement. But those days of wine and roses may yet return. The Bush House opened its doors in Index well over a century ago. But a few years ago the strain of operating a ramshackle hotel in a tiny out-of-the-way village apparently led to its closure. Now for the good news: a group has come up with a plan that may well save the place. The idea would be to create a mixed venture that includes a profit-making restaurant and a nonprofit component to provide a meeting place and lodging. Among those involved in the effort: owner Loyal Nordstrom, restaurateur Jimmy Taranto, the Corson family of the Outdoor Ad-

Even in seemingly timeless Index, Washington, time moves on and things do change. Here’s a look at some of the ways Index is trying to move ahead . . . . a few goals for the future. The star rating with each story gives an idea of how things are progressing.

 DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH  HOPE BEATS ETERNAL  THINGS ARE LOOKING UP  GREAT NEWS  PRAISE THE LORD! venture Center in Index, historian Louise Lindgren and a couple of major investors. Stay tuned for good news.


REBUILD INDEX-GALENA ROAD Question: How many county workers does it take to rebuild half a mile of highway? Answer: None, if the job’s never started. That sometimes seems like the situation on rebuilding a section of Index-Galena Road, washed out in the record-breaking floods of November 2006. Since then the road has been closed about 5 miles east of Index, ending convenient highway access to state campgrounds and the vast recreational treasures of the upper North Fork Skykomish River. The river continues to flow down the old roadbed. In 2007, Snohomish County officials met with area residents to “discuss possibilities for repairing and rebuilding the road.” The year 2008 brought a “route feasibility study.” In 2009 the county met again with residents to explain the study’s fourteen possible solutions. This year will bring a design report DOWN, BUT NOT OUT



even pages in the October issue of Climbing magazine document the spectacular history of the Index Upper and Lower Town Walls. “If you measure a crag by rock quality and the influential climbers who perfected their technique there,” the article says, “it’s clear Index holds a very special place in the granite pantheon.” (But one demerit for the area’s “near-constant drizzle.”) Then the magazine’s May 2010 review of the last 40 years in American rock climbing sports a photo of Todd Skinner on Index’s City Park crack climb.


Trendy Index the next Waikiki? Apparently even the people of Hawaii need to get away once in a while. Windsurf board designer Stevie B. and his lady Yoshiko fell in love with Index during a three-day visit last July. And it was also Hawaii weather a month later when Jim and Stephanie and daughter Sonya were here from Maui.

Roofs are up on two new houses along Avenue A. With its steep roof, dormers and modest window sizes, the two-story dwelling for Amy and Dean Johnson and daughters Addy, Emily and Isla should blend beautifully with the historic old homes of Index. Farther east on the road, the tall house of Frank and Rebecca Cook is coming together nicely. And passersby have nothing but smiles for Rebecca’s flowering rock garden out by the road. . . . Emily Johnson found the perfect place to celebrate her 5th birthday: Emily’s Park. In the park named in memory of my mom, a dozen or more little kids ran around like crazy under the watchful eyes of Emily Graydon Emily Johnson at least that many parents, at age 18 at age 5 on a hot and happy Aug. 1. Democracy inaction: Whether shy, reclusive, lazy or just too busy to be bothered, six of the seven candidates for public office in the Index area declined to place their photos or writeups in the election guide mailed last fall to all voters. Cheers to Mayor Bruce Albert, the only candidate to take this opportunity to communicate with citizens. Whaddya know! I’ve finally found a place that gets as much rain as Index. It’s my brother’s area, where he has averaged 122 inches a year over the past 21 years. I put the two areas nose-to-nose for the past five years and here’s what I found. 2005: Index 88 inches; Brother Dan’s place 142 inches. 2006: Index 113, Dan 103. 2007: Index 102, Dan 95. 2008: Index 99, Dan, 93. 2009: Index 100, Dan 102. But with rainfall totals, the climatic similarity ends, since brother Dan BROTHER DAN lives in upcountry Maui. Monday July 27, 2009, ushered in an oddity for Index: a week of hundred-degree or near-hundred-degree days. . . . On Tuesday, Stevie B. and Yoshiko arrived from Oahu. (“Is it al2


ways this hot here?”) . . . . On Wednesday, the Witzels left for Shanghai. Not to escape the heat—to start their new teaching jobs. . . . On Thursday, it was swimming in the river with Carla and Michael from Shoreline and David and Paige and daughter Lucy from Tennessee. (“Is it always this hot here?”) . . . . On Friday, more of the same. . . . On Saturday, half the crowd at the Index Arts Festival was down under the bridge, playing in the river. . . . On Sunday, I piloted an inflatable kayak several miles down the Skykomish, from just above the reserve to below Boulder Drop. Boulder Drop? Uh, I walked around it. And for this, my first time whitewater kayaking, I was closely guarded by Steve, Doug and Tim, river pros all. The Upper Avenue A Community Assn. is so loosely organized that even its members have never heard of it. There are no dues, and no meetings. No officers either. Just a group of good people who happen to live along Avenue A, east of the Index town limit. Charter members of the association, whether they know it or not, are Jacque, Evelynn, Frank and Rebecca, Micky, Norbert and Kevin, Edie and Warren and Lisa, Don and Jonelle, Heather and Doug and Miles, Jim HEATHER & DOUG and Erynn, and Steve. New in the ’hood: Doug Guillot is the happy new owner of the riverside log cabin next to the reserve, built many years ago by Doug McKnight and his mom and dad. The cabin is now the weekend home of Doug and Heather and their ever-enthusiastic son Miles, age 5, the lucky boy who will have a brother come July. . . . Storycatcher Lisa Stowe is collecting reallife stories of Index, its people, history, places. . . . Index backed its school with an 80 percent yes vote on the latest property tax levy. MILES Signs of spring 2010: Index schoolteachers Carol Mangiola and Rachel Ford herd a crowd of sub-5thgraders on a visit to Emily’s Park. . . . The beaver pond at the eastern Index town limit comes to life, only this year with a river otter. . . . Eight loaded whitewater rafts bounce past Emily’s Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon. . . . And in July comes the wedding of Katy Louk and John Lashelle at the park. Zippy, dippy, exuberant and lively: that’s the Index Times, the tiny seat-of-the-pants, goodspirited rag that now appears weekly on the ANTHONY counter at the general store. Anthony Vega gets top billing as Senior Founding Editor. (PO Box 56, Index WA 98256; . . . . Favorite weekly feature in the Index Times: “Day in the Life of Louie and Brian,” pithy remarks from two of the town’s independent souls. Samples: “Hang loose, stay cool, admit nothing.” “If you fall down in the woods, does anyone hear you?” “I ain’t gonna change for nobody.” [DON]


FOURTH OF JULY Parade and potluck picnic in Doolittle Pioneer Park

Work, play, eat, drink W

INDEX ARTS FESTIVAL The seventh annual smalltown extravaganza of crafts, painting, poetry, crafts, food. Sat., Aug. 7, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

hen I want to work/play in the yard until dark yet know I’ll have to eventually come in and fix dinner, I sometimes make this easy, yummy stew that can be made the night before. Enjoy it with a glass of wine while you reflect on all the great things you accomplished during the day.

OUR WORLD ON THE WEB Index town: Skykomish Valley news: Skykomish Valley news: Index weekly: Index area news: North Fork Skykomish news: The Herald (Everett): Rafting/kayaking: Climbing:

CHICKEN STEW WITH OLIVES AND LEMON Prep and cook time: about 45 minutes Makes 4 servings 1 lb. boned, skinned chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry. Packages of frozen or fresh, already boned and skinned, make this easy. 2 T. flour 1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper; add more to taste 2 T. olive oil 2 large garlic cloves, minced 1 T. capers, drained and minced Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon ½ cup dry white wine 1¾ cups chicken broth 1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ¾inch cubes 1 can quartered artichoke hearts 1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (or less) 1 cup pitted medium green olives Lemon wedges


A publication of the Graydon Reserve Spring 2010

“We’re not in Kansas anymore.” Editor Don Graydon Contributing Writers Bob Hubbard, Jonelle Kemmerling, Andy Graydon, Matt Graydon Photos and Design Don, except where noted IT Support Paul Witzel Publisher Yellow Submarine Press Printer Kool Change Printing

Scientists envision a vast number of parallel universes, some of them much like our own . . . only different. I often feel that the Graydon Reserve exists in a parallel universe—a place similar to the everyday world, but blessed with a touch of over– the–rainbow magic. The concept of a reserve was inspired by a visit to the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. There, Jonelle and I discovered the kinship between that landscape of dark fir and cedar forest rich in mosses, ferns and wildflowers and our own home on the western edge of the Cascade Mountains. Our eight acres, a reserve in spirit if not in fact, begin at the Skykomish River and rise hundreds of feet through woods and cliffy terrain with narrow whitewater streams and tiny waterfalls, the spires of Mount Index lording over it all. I hold the deed to this place, but can you ever really own such beauty? Jonelle and I offer this newsletter as a way to share our love of the reserve and as an invitation to come enjoy it with us.

GRAYDON RESERVE 51303 Avenue A PO Box 166 Index, Washington 98256 360.793.9148

Mount Index, left, and Mount Persis from the reserve.

A PDF copy of this newsletter and the summer 2009 newsletter is available for viewing or download at

1. Cut each chicken thigh into 2 or 3 chunks.

In a plastic bag, combine flour, salt and pepper. Add chicken and shake to coat. 2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken (discard excess flour) in a single layer and cook, turning once, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. 3. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, capers and lemon zest and stir just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and simmer, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add broth, potatoes and chicken and return to a simmer. Lower heat slightly to maintain simmer, cover, and cook 10 minutes. 4. Add artichokes to pot and stir. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, lemon juice to taste, and olives. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with lemon wedges on the side. Variation: Replace chicken with halibut chunks, omitting step 1 and skipping the browning in step 2. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper, add to the stew with the artichokes, and cook until opaque in the center. [from Jonelle, thanks to Sunset Magazine] SUMMER 2009




For the insects of the forest, dead trees are just a lunchroom

When he’s not out in the woods building trails or surveying plants and bugs, naturalist Bob Hubbard keeps busy as an Index town councilman, Index Historical Society host, and planner for the Heybrook Ridge county park. He would rather walk than ride.




hen it comes to forest gossip, dead trees (or snags) are among the chattiest of sources. I was wandering the upper part of the forested area that Don calls Muir Woods when I spotted the Twin Towers, a couple of hoary old reddish brown snags as thick as garbage cans and about 20 feet tall. A trail led to the twins, so I walked over to give them a closer look. They have the cubed and clinkery look of a pair of old soldiers long dead but too ornery to lie down and admit it. These Douglas fir trees were probably dead long before the loggers came through here 80 or 90 years ago, or they would have been harvested too. Like nearly all the local snags and old stumps, they have charcoal on them, probably from the forest fire of 1939. Some concentrated bug tunneling activity was still evident in the east twin, in a zone that was once far beneath the surface of the wood. By all the evidence—the curved and stratified nature of the frass (the excrement of wood-eaters), the meandering tunnels, the flattened cross-section of the tunnel, and the large size of the bigger ones—it looked like this tree had once raised hundreds of golden buprestid beetles. Almond-shaped and slightly wrinkled, the adult buprestids are an iridescent metallicgreen, with copper borders on the wing covers. In a tree, however, the larvae are just white grubs with swollen shoulders and tiny heads—the so-called flat-headed wood borers. Trapped in lumber cut from infested trees, golden buprestids have been documented emerging 50 years later. I ARRIVED AT THE Twin Towers from the Saw Springs area on the eastern edge of the Graydon Reserve. Saw Springs is where the water of Ribbon Creek goes, although throughout the dry season the water runs subsurface from Alder Meadow to there. A few turns up-trail from the springs area, the path jogs around Teddy’s Mustache, a big old stump with traces of charcoal in its creased sides, then continues a bit before leveling out

next to a swollen-bottomed cedar tree with a head-high “cat-face” scar at its base on the uphill side. When the fire of 1939 burned through here, the heat wasn’t enough to kill many trees. But shallow-rooted, thin-barked species like cedars often had parts of their bark and cambium killed where the flames wrapped around the backside (downwind side) of the tree. The trees, like this one, survived, but the heat-killed areas dried out and the bark became brittle and fell off. Fungal diseases got into the exposed wood. Here, a colony of Pacific dampwood termites (they’re our only Northwest species) lived for a while, riddling the heartwood with their tunnels. They’re gone now. Frass fills the tunnels, distinguishing these as the work of termites, not carpenter ants, who keep their tunnels clean. FROM HERE I WANDERED over to the Twin Towers, then up to Alder Meadows, past a pretty collection of moss- and plantcovered logs cantilevered over each other in a pleasing way. At the meadow I found a long log with a nurse tree at its far end and sat myself down, my back to the nurse tree and feet splayed along the log, facing uphill. Beneath my log, Ribbon Creek splashed down the steep slope. I looked at the decayed trunk of a dead

SIX-LEGGED forest citizens include this banded alder borer and the golden buprestids above.

THE FIRE-SCARRED Douglas fir snag at right, one of the Twin Towers, once served as nursery for hundreds of golden buprestid beetles. maple next to the log and saw more bug tunnels in the gray, rotting wood. Some were termite tunnels, and there was also a tunnel that was probably from a round-headed wood borer, specifically a banded alder borer. This insect—an inch and a half or more long, with antennae even longer than that—sports bands of black and white all down its antennae and wing covers. Some insect guidebooks describe the banded alder borer as one of the most beautiful of the forest insects. Personally I like golden buprestids better, though both beetles are like living gems: the alder borer a fine onyx, the buprestid a fire opal. WALKING DOWN Penny Lane I paused on the corner below Alder Meadow to admire a light-colored cedar snag about 30 or 40 feet tall with the classic root flares and deep infoldings around its base that helps you identify old decayed cedar stumps from the rounder, redder, less flared Douglas firs. A red huckleberry bush grows out of the top of the snag. Farther down I exited left onto a path that leads back toward the Twin Towers. A few feet off the lane, the path swings close to a Douglas fir that broke about 15 feet up the trunk and fell to earth just a couple years ago. The trunk is two feet in diameter at the base, with a wide scar up one side and a decay column of rotten wood in the center a foot in diameter. This tree may have been another victim of the 1939 fire. On the trunk, fine

light-colored dust lies atop flakes of bark like snow on a windowsill, beneath holes the diameter of cocktail straws. The holes do not enter the decayed wood; they enter the bark beside the exposed scar. These are the holes of ambrosia beetles, who dispose of their boring dust out the tunnel mouth. The dust here is from the striped ambrosia beetle. Ambrosia beetles (Trypodendron lineatum) are not your average forest insects. Trypodendrons mate for life. They hand-raise their babies in special tree-trunk nurseries, bringing them pieces of fungus to eat and carrying away their wastes for disposal. They often raise successive broods in the same tree. They are farmers, bringing the spores of their food with them in special pouches and planting them on the walls of their tunnel farms, where the fungus soon turns the walls black and fills the spaces with edible pieces of fungus and spores. Sometimes the fungus grows so vigorously in the tunnels that the beetles perish, smothered in their own food. The tunnel farms are such producers of food that other small animals sneak in to share in the resource. Nematode worms grow and reproduce in the wet films of water that cover everything in the tunnels; bacteria and yeasts do, too. Mites hitchhike into the tunnels on the bodies of the beetles, then go off to hunt nematodes or to eat yeasts and bacteria. TREES WITH heart-rot columns, like the termite-nest cedar and the ambrosia beetle Doug fir, offer bug-eating wildlife, such as birds, a sort of twofer: they can dine on caterpillars and sawfly larvae that have fed on the tree’s living foliage, and they can also chow down on buprestid beetles, termites and wood borers that have fed on the tree’s dead wood. On my way out from the ambrosia beetle tree I passed by three other snags: one bigleaf maple and two red alders. All three showed termite sign, and they had a lot of other tunnels in them. I wondered: out of all the frassfilled, abandoned bug tunnels I’d seen this day, how many insects had been produced? How much would they weigh in aggregate? How many birds, mammals and other wildlife have fed on them, and thus, indirectly, on the trees? How many pounds of bugs are produced per acre per year by Muir Woods? When a tree feeds a bird, does it make a sound like an insect?

The rap sheet ■ Due to unacceptable sani-

tary conditions at the Sportsman Campground, a citizens militia has installed Linksys wireless web cams. When and if the motion detectors capture the perps in action, the movement will be streamed and posted on the community Facebook. (Index Times)

■ The Snohomish County

Sheriff's helicopter was used to rescue two men July 4 (2009). The two, described as in their 20s, were climbing Mount Index when one of them fell and injured a shin. (Sky Valley Chronicle)

■ Bonnie Vater found an in-

jured bald eagle along the banks of the Skykomish River. The injuries were so severe the eagle had to be euthanized. (Index Times)

■ The man who died after

falling from a log was identified as Vladimir Dmytriv, 50, of Des Moines, Washington. Dmytriv was crossing Silver Creek when he fell. (Everett Herald)

■ Alex Gibb and Peter Gott

will compete in the Nov. 3 general election for a fouryear term in Position 3 on the Index Town Council. Neither candidate responded to interview requests. “Hello, you’ve reached this number and no one’s here,” went the message at the number Gott provided to the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office. “We will not return your call, so please don’t leave a message at the beep.” Calls were not returned at Gibb’s number, either. (Everett Herald) [Gott won.]

■ September 26: The river is

full of spawning salmon. They're everywhere— thousands of them. The chanterelles are out. I had a mushroom omelette this morning. Tonight it's a mushroom burger and tomorrow I'll make soup with the rest. (



The sun is shining, the river sparkles, the mountains call. Life is lived in the out-of-doors, and it’s light from 4:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

FUN-SEEKERS (clockwise from left): Bill approaches the crux on the climb to the hut. Yoshiko cools off in the river off Emily’s Park. Dana gets in the mood for the opening party at Cantina Del Rio. Paul takes in the view of Mount Index from the hut.

JONELLE discovers one of the joys of backroad travel. Above, a new sign direct from London greets walkers on Penny Lane.

EASY LIVIN’ (Clockwise from left): Fourth of July fireworks at Emily’s Park. A swallowtail butterfly visits the Sweet William. Dana and Jordan pose while Doug paddles past. Rebecca tries some salmonberries. Emily opens another birthday present. Carolyn presents one of her fresh blackberry pies. A curious deer peeks into the bathroom.

BILL HAS FUN picking in the wild apple tree.

DON AND STEVE set off on the first direct ascent from Baring Hut to the Dark Tower.

ANDY, on a visit from Berlin, shows he is at least as tough as his old dad. Above, a rare find near the Swirl: we think it’s a seriously poisonous fly agaric mushroom.

FIVE HARDY DUDES fixed the footbridge after building the Serpentine (at left, covered in maple leaves). Left to right, they are Paul, Jim, Don, Brad, Jordan. Also on the Serpentine crew were Jonelle, Dana, Lisa, Anya, Sarah, Emily, Rich, and Jennifer.

From China, the Middle East, Europe and Mexico, our correspondents report back to Index, Washington


The road works of Berlin BERLIN, Germany — Often the “grand scheme” logic of a new and foreign place is unavailable, elusive, or overwhelming. Most days it is like that for me in Berlin. The sculpt and flow of a place, its reasoning, is something that seeps into you over time; that is how it was built and that is how an outsider must come to know it: slowly. In the mean time, here in Berlin, I find myself drawn to the pedestrian details and the more emphatic gestures that the city lets slide. Since arriving here I have been fascinated by the city’s road construction projects. Not sprawling feats of overpass engineering, but simple, small-scale road repairs and sidewalk building. They are distinctly unlike what we are used to in the States, and present an interesting counterpoint to an American thinking about city infrastructure, time, and topography. The difference in a nutshell is this: major street paving here is asphalt, but all sidewalks, curbs, alleys and smaller byways are still paved with stone. Light in color and flecked with quartz like a rough granite, the uncemented stones sit in a tight bed of sand, packed in a meandering grid with thousands of others of equal size and shape. This is everywhere, not just in the tourist centers or

SHANGHAI, China — Paul Witzel reports: Shanghai is under construction. I read that the government is spending double what it spent on the Olympics to prepare for this year’s World Expo. A new subway line just opened and others are being expanded. Shanghai is always open for business. Construction continues 24/7 (union rates do not apply). It’s breathtaking to see globalization up close. Paul Witzel and his wife, Lisa (above), teach at the Shanghai Community International School. They and daughters Anya and Sarah will be in Index for the Fourth of July to visit Lisa’s mom, Jonelle.

historic districts; it’s just how it’s done. The stones are set solidly but can be unsettled by hand (I have tried) and carried away. Curbs are built from long rectangular blocks, hundreds of kilos in weight, which are set end-toend the length of the block. When you look closely at a street here, you look directly onto the bare materials that give it structure by virtue of their simple placement and mass. It’s an ancient and profound technology that suggests, literally, the bedrock of the city’s civilization. Road works in progress are the real jewel to me, in reading Berlin. For months at a time, the street will be in a tumult of overlapping demolition and reconstruction, but throughout this process the materials of building sit in constant heaps like miniature mountains or displaced earthwork sculptures: stones cut into cubes in three or four sizes, from ring box to hat box; sand in absurd quantities; flat paving stones for the bike lanes stacked into totems. In New York, no one would think to leave these mounds on the street without 24-hour supervision, they are so clearly useful and valuable. But here, it is as if the mound itself were the finished work; they go untouched and largely ignored. In a city that has seen so much building in the last fifteen years, and so much rubble in the past fifty, these intrusions are perhaps a special category of invisible. The flow of yin and yang in the cycle of demolition and construction are especially clear here. In a city in the States the old surfaces are torn out and discarded to allow new building. Here, they are dismantled and put

THE SMALLER byways of Berlin are still paved in stone, hand-set in sand. 8


Photos by the correspondents


back into a pile to be reused on the site, or carted to a new location. There is no new without the old. They are constantly handling and sifting the past here, in a simple crystalized form; the present is built from it. And must be rebuilt again and again, up close with a hand pick, from stones that have seen past lives in other parts of the city in other ages. For our two-year-old son Graham, who is often my companion on morning bike trips, these construction sites bear no weight of the past but are a sheer delight. He squeals with excitement after every dump truck, crane, and pile of dirt, calling out their names in a hazy combination of English and German. For him the building sites are pure energy, expansion, and kinetic pleasure, and he can’t get enough. Andy Graydon, a sound and video artist, lives in Berlin with his wife, Henriette Huldisch, an art curator, and their son, Graham. Andy often escapes the big city to visit his dad in Index.

MULEGÉ, Baja California, Mexico — Gary Bott of Index hands a bag of clothing to the wife of the fisherman Cristobal, near the house that Gary keeps in Mulegé. Gary drove down from Index with a truck and trailer loaded with clothes, bedding and food from the people of Index for victims of last summer’s Hurricane Jimena.


The taxis of Amman By MATT GRAYDON AMMAN, Jordan — The best way to see this city is by taxi. For every group of cars that passes by, there are guaranteed to be least two or three dusty South Korean econoboxes painted inconsistent shades of yellow. Occasionally a sparkling new Chevrolet or even a Mercedes will roll past—avoid these at all costs. Stepping inside one instantly identifies you as a tourist (in other words, a sucker). Your best bet is to grab the grimiest, grungiest cab around—preferably one with tinny Koranic recitations blasting from a tape deck. Seatbelts are usually used only when passing by police checkpoints; otherwise, they hang by the open window, collecting the day’s exhaust fumes, and cigarette ash. Every morning, stepping into a cab wearing a fresh button-down, I have to weigh my desire for a clean shirt against my will to live. After the first near-collision of the day (usually during the no-look merge back into traffic), the seatbelt invariably wins.

Unless you’re swashbuckling through the desert with the Bedouin, life in Jordan can be on the slow side. Cynical diplomats refer to the country as the Hashemite Kingdom of Boredom. So, to keep things lively, Ammanites like to drive “defensively.” Or offensively, as the case may be. It’s common practice to simply force one’s way into a crowded intersection, or to reverse on the freeway if you’ve missed your exit. The police in their sparkling new Audi sedans may yell at you on their loudspeakers, but they’re unlikely to go beyond that. Thankfully the traffic is usually slow enough to keep a drive entertaining rather than terrifying. An average trip in Amman will see a good chunk of time spent idling in traffic. This is a good opportunity to really see the demographic makeup of the city. Glance at the license plates of the cars stacked up around you. The majority will be Jordanian, but the rest will be from a hodgepodge of surrounding countries, some near and some far. Saudi Arabia, on

Jordan’s southern border, is always well represented, usually on the back of a mammoth Range Rover or Land Cruiser. The same goes for the flashy emirate of Dubai and its island cousin Qatar. Every so often a fresh license plate will crop up from neighboring Iraq, a subtle reminder of Jordan’s unique position in this complex and often troubled part of the world. You’ll also see visitors from Jordan’s other restless neighbors, Israel-Palestine and Syria. Sitting in traffic surrounded by men and women from all over the region, some in sharp business suits and some wearing crisp white dishdashas or sleek black abayas, the concept of Amman begins to make sense. The city steadfastly remains a neutral ground, a calm core floating in a tumultuous sea. Matt Graydon works in Amman, Jordan, for the Iraq mission of the International Organization for Migration, which aids displaced families. He is no stranger to Index, where an uncle lives at the end of Avenue A. SPRING 2010


Index meanders toward the future FROM PAGE ONE

GeoHiker on

prepared for the county council. Then the state and the feds get into the act. An estimate on a starting time for the job is 2012 or 2013. (Look for ribbon-cutting on November 6, 2016, tenth anniversary of the flood.)


GOOD TRY, but this Jeep swamped on Index-Galena Road on Feb. 25 of this year.


KATHY CORSON serves up the goodness at the Outdoor Adventure coffeeshop.


RE-OPEN FOREST ROAD 62 Hikers and climbers will again have access to the Mount Persis trailhead beginning in mid-July. That’s when a one-year emergency closure of Forest Road 62 expires. Mountaineers have used the publicly managed road for decades to reach the trailhead, for the summit trek that crosses a section of Longview Fibre property before entering Forest Service land. The Forest Service approved the closure after Longview Fibre complained of dumping, vandalism and illegal shooting along the road that runs through the company’s timberland. Longview hoped to extend the closure, but Peter Forbes, the acting Skykomish District Ranger, says the company would have to go 10


Road 62 heads south from US 2 two miles west of the turnoff to Index. The Persis trailhead (unmarked) is 5 miles from US 2 (stay left at both of the two principal Ys). A very rough, informal trail gains 2700 feet in about 3 miles, traveling through forest and meadowland to a broad summit with views out toward an infinity of mountains and down to the town of Index. With good binoculars you can watch folks coming and going from the Index General Store.


Cliff Leight photo in the Seattle Times

I got a rude introduction to the local trains when I lived on Index Avenue for several months, a short distance from the tracks. Every night I was blasted awake by a whistle whenever the train went rattling through town. What a relief when I moved into my new house at the east end of Avenue A, out of reach of most of the noise. From his home on the other end of Avenue A just a few houses from the tracks, Bill Cross gets a daily ration of railroad racket. He took a stab at finding a way to stop the whistles when he was a town councilman in 2000, but the effort went nowhere. Since then the federal government has set up a procedure for declaring quiet zones. If an area meets certain safety requirements for signals at crossings, the whistles are silenced. You can check out the details from the Federal Railroad Administration’s website at David Meier, who lives next to the railroad crossing, says he has “pretty much gotten used to the trains.” However, he adds, “in a parallel universe there would be no trains.”

through a full process of public and environmental reviews. The emergency closure expires July 16. Steve Tift of Longview Fibre says the company will reopen the gate and basically hope for the best. If problems recur he may ask for another closure. Forbes and Tift ask visitors to report problems they see along the road to: Skykomish Ranger Station 360-677-2414 Longview Fibre 360-770-1199 County Sheriff 425-388-3393

THE INDEX climbing park may be named for Stimson Bullitt, here at age 83.

THE SUMMIT of Mount Persis will see more visitors when Road 62 reopens in July.

It’s the town’s good fortune that the Corson family bought the closed Index Tavern a few years ago and turned it into the Outdoor Adventure Center. The latest good news is that they have opened a coffeeshop in the building — the first and only one in our tiny village. For the moment it’s more like an indoor espresso stand. Good coffee, muffins and soft drinks, no food service. But what a setting. The building is on the river next to the Index bridge. Inside, tables sit on the beautifully refinished wood floor of the old tavern, next to a long, handsome bar backed by a riverrock wall. It’s roomy and inviting, a perfect meeting place for the community. Wi-fi too. The coffeeshop is open 8-4 every day.


BUY THE CLIMBING WALL It looks like Washington rock climbers are on target to raise enough money to buy the lower Index Town Wall from a private owner. The Washington Climbers Coalition is trying to find $300,000 to buy the world-famous rock climbing wall and surrounding crags. The coalition says more than half the goal has been reached. If all goes well, the property will eventually be given to Forks of the Sky State Park, which already owns the neighboring upper Town Wall. Planners hope to name the new climbing park for Stimson Bullitt, a widely admired broadcast executive and urban developer who was an avid rock climber well into his 80s.

BRING BROADBAND TO INDEX Town council member Karen Sample has been looking into the possibilities of highspeed Internet for Index, without a lot of luck so far. Meanwhile, townsfolk continue to fall asleep at their computers while waiting for Internet sites to load. One possible solution is to run a Verizon T1 broadband phone line to an antenna tower in town and charge users a monthly fee for a wireless hookup. But the setup might cost $10,000 or more and Verizon won’t do it, even though it could recover its money through subscriber fees. And the town of Index seems legally constrained from setting up a public system on its own. So here’s what we have: Verizon couldn’t care less about Index. The company has no plans to run fiber optic cables for universal broadband. We can’t get it through cable TV since the town has none. Satellite broadband is expensive and slow. The charge for a T1 line to an individual house would run hundreds of dollars a month. I’m falling asleep at my computer just thinking about it . . . .

How to find the best view on Heybrook Ridge The glow is off the hike to the Heybrook Lookout now that trees have grown higher than the lookout itself, stealing the view. And in any case the lookout on top of its five-story tower is locked to visitors. But wait! There’s now a way to ascend the Heybrook Ridge trail and still find a commanding view of Mount Index and the Skykomish River Valley. To take this adventurous little hike, begin at the trailhead for the Heybrook Lookout, on the north side of U.S. 2, 1.8 miles east of the turnoff to Index. (Get a Forest Service parking permit at the Index General Store or on the way to the trailhead at the Espresso Chalet on US 2. $5 daily, $30 annual.) Ascend the well-used track through rich forest, sounds of the highway dying away as you tramp upward. Stay on the trail for about three-quarters of a mile, gaining 600 feet elevation from the trailhead. At this point the trail makes a sharpright switchback to avoid a low cliffy band. Walk another hundred yards, keeping an eagle eye on the left for the “road sign” that tells you it’s time to leave the trail: a triangle of three 3-foot -long logs lying on the ground. (Alternate takeoff point from the


DEVELOP A COUNTY PARK The Heybrook Ridge county park is moving toward reality. A full-scale survey of the property just across the river from Index is now underway to pin down boundaries before trail work and other development begins. Citizen action in 2008 raised enough funds to buy the 129-acre tract and save it from logging. Snohomish County put up half the money and is taking it on as a county park, but you and I are still expected to pay for and carry out much of the work. Friends of Heybrook Ridge ( is putting up something like $25,000 for the survey. Among hopes for the future: trails within the forested north side of the ridge, a meadow area on the south side with permanent mountain views, an easement to connect the park with Index-Galena Road. [DON]

JONELLE SNOOZES away on mossy rock at the new Heybrook viewpoint, Mount Persis in the background.

Map adapted from “55 Hikes around Stevens Pass” (The Mountaineers Books), Gray Mouse Graphics

Bullitt died last year at the age of 89. Even if you don’t climb, it’s fun to watch the monkeys at play on the wall. To get there, just drive over the railroad tracks by the Bush House and head west out of town on Reiter Road (Avenue A becomes Reiter Road) for six-tenths of a mile. Look for a rutted little hidden-away parking lot on the right. Park, walk across the tracks, and look up. You’re staring at the lower Town Wall.

THE SHORT cross-country route to the new Heybrook Ridge viewpoint takes off from the old trail. Round trip from the trailhead is only about 2 miles. main trail in case someone moves the triangle logs: again, about 100 yards up the trail from the switchback turn, find a flat rock that intrudes into the trail. The rock is about 4 feet in diameter and a foot and a half high, with the corner in the trail pointing directly north into the woods.) Now it gets fun. Set your compass to due north (you did bring your compass, didn’t you?) and march assuredly into the forest for a few minutes and up the nearby hill until you hit a wide, flat bench below a ridge. Turn left and walk northwest for 5 minutes or so until you come out into the open at a clearcut swath under power lines. Continue along the edge of the clearcut for a couple more minutes until the terrain rises up on your left. Scramble up a steep little 20-foot-high knoll and re-enter the forest on a hillside, now traveling southwest. From here it’s just a mild bash to the top of the hill and a few steps down to the viewpoint, for a total elevation gain from the car of less than 800 feet. You’ll know the viewpoint when you see it. The forest opens up, cushiony moss covers the ground, and before you in rich blues and greens lie forests, waterfalls, peaks and river. Modest-size pine trees adorn the site. The terraced rock is perfect for lunching and napping. Be kind to the fragile moss. You’re now enjoying the new improved Heybrook lookout, courtesy of the hard work of Bob Hubbard, who figured out the route and marked its start with the triangle of logs. He also flagged the way with blue surveyor’s tape, but Bob is so determined to not litter the wilderness that it’s unlikely you’ll find any of his discreetly placed ribbons. No matter, you’ll find the way. SPRING 2010


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Secrets of the Swirl On the forest floor in Rosebud Meadow, visitors to the Reserve encounter a large spiral of river rock set in a bed of moss. After five years the spiral almost looks like it grew there, but I’m afraid it wasn’t that easy. Over a period of time, Jonelle and I collected dozens of round, flat river rocks, anywhere from an inch to a foot and a half in diameter. We ended up with piles of them down at Emily’s Park. I hired a young man named Henry to grunt the rocks into a wheelbarrow, then into my truck for a ride up Penny Lane, then again by wheelbarrow to the building site in the meadow named in memory of Jonelle’s mother, Rosella Kruse. There I dug out a flat 15-foot-diameter circle and filled it with a couple inches of gravel topped with an inch or so of sand. Now for the rocks. Jonelle was the artist who started the design, placing tiny rocks that spiraled round and round from the center, each rock a bit larger than the last. After eight loops we ended the design with a row of large rocks that trailed off into the woods. Then I precisely dug each rock into the gravel and sand, setting it level with its neighbors. We called it a spiral. Our granddaughter Sarah, at age 5, chose to call it a swirl. So the


Jacque and Anita in Muir Woods

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Swirl it became. We filled the spaces between rocks with red cedar bark from dead stumps and logs in the woods. Later we planted moss in the spaces. The Swirl today is set in moss with an outer ring of red bark. And each year when the maple leaves fall, I dress up the Swirl with a necklace of autumn leaves. [DON]

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Parallel Universe #2  

Highlights of the Graydon Reserve in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle, on the Skykomish River

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