Hiking Mt. Peak is about the journey, not the destination

Don’t cut down trees just for a view.

I attended the recent tree clearing proposal meeting held by King County Parks in Enumclaw. Since approval of the proposal is dependent upon public opinion and after listening to the presentations by the Mount Peak Historical Fire Lookout Association and Parks (“A little off the top — King County proposes Mt. Peak tee cutting for view of Enumclaw, Rainier” published June 15), I felt compelled to state my vociferous opposition to this proposal which appears to counter the Association’s original plan of recreating a tower for historical reasons.

It was promised that the construction and placement of the tower and maintenance would be done with minimal impact and with utmost consideration and care of the environment of our very special Mount Peak. We are now informed this very valuable asset needs to be enhanced to satisfy those demanding better views from the top. We were told that after all, the 55 trees to be removed or pruned were merely second growth and two are even dead. What were they thinking in building a thirty foot high structure amongst 80 to 110 foot high trees? Perhaps being more transparent about cutting trees six years ago would have been a deal-breaker for this $600,000 height adjustment.

The summit represents a challenging and fragile ecosystem which has been for the past sixty years tenaciously re-establishing itself as it is subjected to extraordinary winds and has shallow soil on solid rock with mixed wet and dry areas. This proposal to create three view corridors which certainly will serve as wind tunnels, placing the remainder of the trees in jeopardy. Many of us do not have another sixty years to witness another reset of this recovery. I question the need for better tower views when the existing trails offer wonderful glimpses in all four quadrants including a view of Rainier which is less than a minute away on a side trail from the summit. The most dramatic views of Rainier of course are on the way to the trailheads, from our surrounding plateau.

Hiking the Peak for me is much more about the journey than the destination; finally spotting a Saw-Whet owl having only heard it for months, catching sight of the first Trillium or subsequent appearance of the Calypso orchids, also present less than 200 feet from the summit, just about in the shadow of the tower.

My pressing concern besides the possible unintended adverse effects to the summit environment by the proposed tree cutting is; what are the next wants that the committee members may have in mind as it appears the goal is to attract ever increasing numbers of hikers to the trails which are already being figuratively loved to death with heavy use. Are we headed for stone stepped trails for durability or will there be a permit system for trail use or parking and possibly limited hours to curtail vandalism? Will a “haircut” become a request for a balding? There was no environmental impact study requested six years ago and none considered now so….. it appears to me “It’s Deja Vu (View) All Over Again”.

J. Chriss Cancro