The Wild Edge: Exploring Portland’s Forest Park, appearing in the October 2009 issue of Backpacker Magazine, is a fascinating article by Portland writer Bill Donahue about the crown jewel of Portland parks.
The park is described eloquently, as demonstrated in the excerpt below:
On hot summer days, when the sidewalk downtown is baking and the air feels dead and still, I think of the leaves on the maple trees up there in Forest Park–in the hills just west of the center of Portland, Oregon. They’re almost iridescent green, and veiny, and bending in the breeze amid the evergreens. The trees are a little higher up, elevationwise, than the city’s streets–kind of like heaven–and you know that, if you get up there and start walking around under those leaves, you’ll feel the soft springiness of the ground. You’ll feel the pine needles underfoot on the hiking trails, and it will feel like the world is suddenly breathing again.
But as the author explains, not only is Forest Park the easternmost sliver of a wildlife corridor that stretches on, virtually uninterrupted, some 80 miles to the coast, it’s also a second-growth forest set within a metropolis of 2 million people who engage in an intricate, daily dance with the wilds. The article is not, surprisingly, about the park, per se, it is about the people of the park.
Bill Donahue takes a walk along an edge of the park being encroached upon by suburbia with Les Blaize, who’s lived for 30 years in a ramshackle cottage surrounded on three sides by the park. He locates and talks to one ornery man, who has been camping in Forest Park for three decades, and he communes with nature with Fred Nilsen, now retired, who served for two decade plus as Forest Park’s chief arborist. And Bill Donahue shares his own experiences with the park.
It’s a fascinating account. You can read it here: The Wild Edge: Exploring Portland’s Forest Park.