The Belding road is an old logging road that descends way down to the Salmonberry River. No one I know (and that includes forestry types) have been down this abandoned road that crosses back and forth for 11 miles as it sinks nearly 2,500 feet in elevation down into the Salmonberry River Canyon.
Some people get a kick out of climbing up things. In my world the rivers run along the bottom of deep canyons and I’m always descending from above. Because the only roads out there are logging roads, they all lead too nowhere in particular. But they’re also everywhere – all along the ridge tops.
Sometimes, to get out into the really remote rivers, you have to drive a labyrinthian route that unspools itself linking one ridgeline to another. Ridgeline roads built to carry heavy loads of timber snake out along the heights pushing ever outwards until the very last ridge has been traversed.
The Belding Road is one of these sinuous and convoluted trails cut into the steepest slopes along the Salmonberry Canyon. It is both primally beautiful and terrifyingly brutal at the same time.
This close to the Coast the landscapes become fiercer: precipitous ravines with towering timbers growing off the cliffs. One of my favorite eyries is a place called Windy Gap. From there, on a good day, you can see the ships sailing up the coast. But when the gales came in 1955 this was no place for mortals. That winter it blew Lee Carrigan’s cabin right off the mountain.
When the big expected gale comes roaring ashore tomorrow, these slopes will be the first landmass they encounter. The barometer is dropping, there is an edginess in the air,
the elk are hunkering down, and the Doug firs are clenching their roots. There is a promise of violence in the air that Coleridge would appreciate.
In 2006, a gargantuan log jam blocked the Salmonberry River at Tunnel Creek. Caught in the tightly twisting canyon the river breached its banks and poured through the train tunnel. A roaring brown whirlpool swept back up the valley pulling the steep slopes down upon itself.
I bet that by tomorrow when the first storms are due to hit, the river will churn once again. This once placid stream will be transformed, as the heavens open up, the storm roars up the canyon, and the syrupy brown water is whipped and churned with great chunks of wood and rock. As the storm intensifies the Salmonberry will froth and thrust forth great gouts of muddy water. Tossing rocks and limbs as much as 50 feet above the river, it will scour the cliffs of vegetation.
Now can you understand why I want to descend the Belding Road to see the chaos at the end of the road?