Alexander Cockburn was born 74 years ago, on June 6th.
Almost a year ago the editor of the AVA and I hiked down the 16 miles of the Sinkyone Wilderness. In the intervening months much has changed. Editor Bruce Anderson has removed to Eugene, Oregon, where he escorts the loyal Roscoe (a dog) demurely along the bike paths of that city.
For my money ($30 for two nights) the Sinkyone is the most beautiful hike in California. I went back there this last weekend and in the course of a hike down to Wheeler, the abandoned (then destroyed) Georgia-Pacific logging settlement, half way down the Wilderness coast line, we encountered no one. No one on the way back either.
Sari Anderson, formerly of Ukiah, now of Wisconsin, had just settled into the visitor center for a 2-month volunteer’s stint and said this had been a very slow summer, suggesting that maybe costlier airfares had kept people away.
“Nonsense, Sari,” I said. “Americans have got too fat to hike.”
Across the past three years it’s become obvious that most park or wilderness spaces have been abandoned to bears, lions and coyotes. The elk in the Sinkyone were amazed to see a passer-by. No one had picked the blackberries or the watercress in the parking area. We had delicious stewed blackberries-and-apple and steel cut oats on Monday morning, watching a couple of weary refugees from Reggae on the River slowly emerge from their tent. If we called the dish “compote of pink pearl and gravenstein apples and hand-gathered Sinkyone blackberries with avena integral, drizzled with sel de garonne and cane sugar” we probably could have sold it to all comers for $23.50, with a cup of Gold Rush Panama hard bean to wash it down.