the pitch of the trail increases, lookingrnup through aspen stands toward elkrncamp, still a couple of miles farther on. Irnfelt m leg. The muscles were unstiffencdrnand the knee secured all right sornfar, but I was expecting it to give troublernin the descent. I sat on the grass tornwatch a rcdtailcd hawk pivot slowly onrnone wingtip before catching a thermalrnand soaring until, from a great height, hernplunged toward the mountain slope,rnpulled out of his dive, and slid sidewaysrnon a lateral current, aided by slow occasionalrnbeats of his cur’cd wings. Behindrnhim, the sun came through the long primaryrnand the sceondarx feathers, outliningrnthe dark head and bod’ in fire beforernhe disappeared suddenly behind a wallrnof the dark pine trees.rnI rose from the grass and startedrndownhill, pulling back on the hurt legrnbefore setting my foot to reduce thernshock and cushion the swollen knee.rnThe shadows grew toward four o’clockrnand tlie down-canyon wind had begun,rntossing the willows and raising a low roarrnin the pine woods that merged with thernrush of the creek. Unarmed, my progressrncovered by the flow of w ind and water, Irnlooked far out and around as I went, tornavoid getting up on a bear and having tornclimb a tree. Years ago, when an elk tagrnwas also a license to take a black bear, Irnwas hunting bulls eady one October dayrnwith John Kovach along the top of thernridge that forms the northwest wall ofrnBear Trap canyon when John asked, “Ifrnyou were to sec a bear, would vou shootrnit?” “Of course.” “Well, I know where arnbig s(3v lives. Conrc on, and I’ll let yournhave the first shot.” He led through arnstand of black timber to the den wherernwe stood with our guns at ready, but nornbear came out. Long scratch marksrnscarred the bark of some of the treesrneight feet and more at:>ove the duff andrnfallen pine needles, which smclled ofrnbear. Toda’ bear hunting is being challengedrnby animal rights activists in thernEast who have sued the Forest Service tornhalt bear-baiting until the agency hasrnmade an environmental assessment andrnadopted a set of formalized rules governingrnthe taking of bear (which the staterngame commissions have already done).rn”What good are grizzlies?” Clyde Clarkrnasked last fall while going around myrnhorses between swiirg shifts at the coalrnmine. What good are Wayne Paccllernand Ingrid Newkirk? The urbanizationrnof the West and the triumph of urbanrnvalues over rural ones arc now acceptedrn”facts” out here, including b environmentalists,rnsome of w hom seem to welcomernthe situation. But Marc Reisner,rnthe water historian, points out that thernurban West is an irrigation ciilization,rnand every irrigation civilization in humanrnhistory has failed, sooner or later.rnOf course the rural West is also dependentrnon irrigation, but on a far lesserrnscale. If the deepening water crisis werernto end, say 100 cars from now, in tlicrncollapse of the Western megalopolises,rnthen the destinv of the West would oncernagain be predominantly rural. ShouldrnWesterners be planning for a rural economyrnand a rural culture a century fromrnnow? Ed Abbe, for one, might havernsaid es. He explained why in GoodrnNews, the worst novel he ever wrote.rnSeven ears after his death I continue tornmiss Ed, but I am also mad at him.rnWhat kind of friend leaves his friendsrnwith nothing new that’s good to read?rnThank God this knee didn’t have to carryrnmc all the wav down from elk camp.rnFrom a small park on the far side ofrnthe creek a pair of coyotes stared at mernacross an early supper before bolting towardrnthe timber. I waded the creek andrnwent over to have a look at the remainsrnof their meal. It was a cow elk, deadrnprobablv since early spring. When BillrnWilson, the et, opened the stomach ofrna coyote he’d shot, he found it full ofrnmaggots. The teeth remained intact inrnthe jawbone, but I had neglected to carryrna knife as well as a revolver and lackedrna means of cutting the ixories away. Risingrnfrom nry throbbing knee, I crossedrnback over the creek and got on the trailrnagain.rnWestern culture is finalU a type ofrnfrontier culture, and the preservation ofrnfrontier culture means leaving things deliberatelyrnunfinished and underdeveloped.rnAre the Wise Use people reallyrncapable of finding satisfaction and fulfillmentrnin underdcelopment? Haernthev the wisdom to appreciate the goodrnlife while it is theirs, and not tr- to pushrnit to its “logical” conclusion’ If so, theyrnare nearly unique in human history—rnthe w iscst men since the Wise Men travelingrnhome by night to Mesopotamia.rnHere is the challenge for Western patriots.rnWesterners ought not to allowrnWashington to crucif them on a barbwirernfence post. Nor should they crucifyrnthemselves on a cross of gold of theirrnown dei.sing. If the aim of the Wise Usernmovement is to reject Big Money togetherrnwith Big Go’ernnrent; if it is tornpromote animal husbandry, siKiculture,rnand extractive industr- in ceologicalK”rnand socially responsible ways; if it is tornmoderate respect for abstract wealth,rnpower, and tire other fetishes of empire,rnand to smash the idolatry of Growthrnworship, then I am for the Wise Use program.rnIf, on the other hand, the moenient’srnsecret goal is sinrply to emplo’rnthe power of the Western myth to transformrnWestern ci ilization into a facsimilernof the rest of the nation, I am againstrnit, and wish all Wise Users in Hell.rnOccluded by rising thundcrheads inrnthe west, the sun came and went on myrnback as I approached the mouth of BearrnTrap ean’on. Crossing the ford I pausedrnin midstream to bathe my knee in therncold lashing water before wading ontornthe bank, where I removed the boots andrnwrung out my socks. The inside of thernknee was marbled in purple, vellow, andrngreen, but the swelling had subsided andrnmuch of the stiffness had worked out ofrnit. I drew on the clinging socks with difficulty,rnrelaced the boots, and walkedrnthe last quarter-mile to the jeep.rnThe world looked better somehowrnthan it had yvhen I left it on mv way intornthe mountains. My wodd, not the contemporaryrnone-size-fits-all world: ProleAmerica,rnwith its profound ignorancernand ugliness, its piggish culture, aimlessrnmen, and faithless women. There is arnloss that comes from living substantialhrnapart from men—and women—but inrncertain times and situations it is the onlyrnway. I got up in the jeep and put the keyrninto the ignition. The engine turnedrnover, cranked, and kept cranking, notrncatching. The 1970 Toyota motor—rnthe straight-six Chew engine of thern1950’s—does not seem to care for thernunleaded gasoline I hae been feeding itrnlateK. I rested the battery before tringrnagain. It is 49 miles back to civilization,rndirt road all the wav except for the last sixrnor seven, and the knee is not respondingrnwell to the clutch pedal. I let the carburetorrndrain, and tried once more. Thernengine shook itself hard all over like arnwet dog, and fired, sending out bluernsmoke through the broken tailpipe.rnThat gave me a good feeling. I couldrnhave walked, of course, but 49 miles is arnlong wav on a bum leg, and the waitressesrnat the Frontier Saloon hae the prettiestrnsmiles as they make their wayrnthrough the barroom twilight, carrying arnT-bone steak and a double gin martinirnon a tray.rn50/CHRONICLESrnrnrn