XIX. People and Towns of Puget Sound
As one strolls in the woods about the logging camps, most of the lumbermen are found to be interesting people to meet, kind and obliging and sincere, full of knowledge concerning the bark and sapwood and heartwood of the trees they cut, and how to fell them without unnecessary breakage, on ground where they may be most advantageously sawed into logs and loaded for removal. The work is hard, and all of the older men have a tired, somewhat haggard appearance. Their faces are doubtful in color, neither sickly nor quite healthy-looking, and seamed with deep wrinkles like the bark of the spruces, but with no trace of anxiety. Their clothing is full of rosin and never wears out. A little of everything in the woods is stuck fast to these loggers, and their trousers grow constantly thicker with age. In all their movements and gestures they are heavy and deliberate like the trees above them, and they walk with a swaying, rocking gait altogether free from quick, jerky fussiness, for chopping and log rolling have quenched all that. They are also slow of speech, as if partly out of breath, and when one tries to draw them out on some subject away from logs, all the fresh, leafy, outreaching branches of the mind seem to have been withered and killed with fatigue, leaving their lives little more than dry lumber. Many a tree have these old axemen felled, but, round-shouldered and stooping, they too are beginning to lean over. Many of their companions are already beneath the moss, and among those that we see at work some are now dead at the top (bald), leafless, so to speak, and tottering to their fall.
A very different man, seen now and then at long intervals but usually invisible, is the free roamer of the wilderness - hunter, prospector, explorer, seeking he knows not what. Lithe and sinewy, he walks erect, making his way with the skill of wild animals, all his senses in action, watchful and alert, looking keenly at everything in sight, his imagination well nourished in the wealth of the wilderness, coming into contact with free nature in a thousand forms, drinking at the fountains of things, responsive to wild influences, as trees to the winds. Well he knows the wild animals his neighbors, what fishes are in the streams, what birds in the forests, and where food may be found. Hungry at times and weary, he has corresponding enjoyment in eating and resting, and all the wilderness is home. Some of these rare, happy rovers die alone among the leaves. Others half settle down and change in part into farmers; each, making choice of some fertile spot where the landscape attracts him, builds a small cabin, where, with few wants to supply from garden or field, he hunts and farms in turn, going perhaps once a year to the settlements, until night begins to draw near, and, like forest shadows, thickens into darkness and his day is done. In these Washington wilds, living alone, all sorts of men may perchance be found - poets, philosophers, and even full-blown transcendentalists, though you may go far to find them.
Indians are seldom to be met with away from the Sound, excepting about the few outlying hop ranches, to which they resort in great numbers during the picking season. Nor in your walks in the woods will you be likely to see many of the wild animals, however far you may go, with the exception of the Douglas squirrel and the mountain goat. The squirrel is everywhere, and the goat you can hardly fail to find if you climb any of the high mountains. The deer, once very abundant, may still be found on the islands and along the shores of the Sound, but the large gray wolves render their existence next to impossible at any considerable distance back in the woods of the mainland, as they can easily run them down unless they are near enough to the coast to make their escape by plunging into the water and swimming to the islands off shore. The elk and perhaps also the moose still exist in the most remote and inaccessible solitudes of the forest, but their numbers have been greatly reduced of late, and even the most experienced hunters have difficulty in finding them. Of bears there are two species, the black and the large brown, the former by far the more common of the two. On the shaggy bottom-lands where berries are plentiful, and along the rivers while salmon are going up to spawn, the black bear may be found, fat and at home. Many are killed every year, both for their flesh and skins. The large brown species likes higher and opener ground. He is a dangerous animal, a near relative of the famous grizzly, and wise hunters are very fond of letting him alone.