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Mysterious Diamond Belle Ranch Larch Trees

By Ron Lee
Published: 01/15/20 Topics: Comments: 0

Growing up on the coast of Washington State meant everyone lived near the forest were the lumber industry was king. Almost everyone in the town worked in the "woods" or were dependent on it. But apparently my education about trees was lacking.

Before America had middle schools, in most school districts there were Junior High Schools. Grade school was grades kindergarten through sixth grade. Junior high was seventh through ninth and high school was just three years Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors.

My father ran a truck shop where loggers bought vehicles and had them maintained. All through high school I drove a delivery truck up and into the gargantuan Olympic Peninsula often leaving at 2:30pm and returning home at midnight. I have seen my shares of trees.

In Junior High everyone had to take a class all about trees, including memorizing their Latin names, what they looked like and how to differentiate between them. During the Holidays we collected tree boughs, made wreaths and sold them for pocket money. I knew my trees.

Fir trees were the preferred species for lumber. Spruce and Hemlock also contributed. Due to its weather resistant properties, Cedar was preferred for roofing shingles and shakes. Alder was considered junk wood, and ground into pulp to make paper. We had very few pines.

As a treat, graduating Junior High ninth graders were taken on field trip deep into the mountains to help plant seedlings. Naturally the organizers gave us the steepest hillsides to climb hand over foot, digging a hole with a quick whack of a "Rindt Hoe" (a shovel like an ax.)

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My classmates were so exhausted, everyone slept in the bus on the way home and we all conspired to never to become loggers.

Late last Autumn, I was invited to the Diamond Belle Guest Ranch in the Okanogan High Lands of Central Washington. Driving up from the valley below, on a meandering dirt road we seemed to be stepping back in time. But I was disappointed to see that a few of the evergreen trees had yellow needles and were dying off.

"What a shame to see those trees dying." I said. Having read about a certain Beetle that was killing off pine trees across upper North America I presumed that to be the case on the ranch.

As we settled into comfortable couches in front of the Wauconda Lodge towering fireplace, I asked the Caretakers Trisha and Steve how long the trees had been dying off. They looked at each other and then at me and said, "Dying? What do you mean?"

As I explained my observation of the trees, and boasted of my evergreen credentials, they began to smirk ever so politely.

"Well you see those are Larch trees and they do that every year. But will return to green in the spring."

"So they are not dying?"

"No, that is their cycle. They are Larch Trees. "

I was stymied, paused a bit, and then decided to fess up. I told them of my "extensive" knowledge of trees and how, apparently, I knew nothing about Larches, probably because they do not grow at the Coast..

Of course, I was greatly relieved to find that the trees were healthy, as was everything else about the Diamond Belle. Nothing in that landscape has changed there in thousands of years.

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Author: Ron Lee, Diamond Belle Ranch
Blog #: 0725 – 01/15/20
– 767 Acres wilderness guest ranch, surrounded by thousands of acres of forest service, with 44 acre private fly fishing Walker Lake. Majestic Wauconda lodge sleeps up to 23 over night guests, and up to 250 daily visitors for private weddings and groups. Nearby by but far from Spokane, Wenatchee and Seattle Tacoma. – DiamondBelleRanch.com

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