High Jack Blockade, A Chapter in Grumble’s Book
This is the first story that I have completed for some future book, took me a while to get into writing it. It is the story mostly of the High Jack Blockade, but also Resistance to the cove/mallard timber sales in 1997.
Huckleberry Pancakes and Huckleberry Syrup
This recipe is for 30 people:
12 cups white flour
1 quart huckleberries
2 cups sugar
4 table spoons baking powder
½ cup oil
2 pitches of salt
2 table spoons vanilla extract
Water to ideal thickness or you can use a dairy alternative such as almond or rice milk.
Combine and mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, then add oil and mix in water until pancake consistency (vegan cakes batter needs to be slightly thicker than that with eggs) add huckleberries and use a griddle or frying pan on low heat to cook the cakes. We made all our pancakes over coals on our fire during the High Jack blockade; in fact we made everything on that fire.
1 quart huckleberries
2 cups sugar
1 sticks margarine (optional)
3 cups water
2 table spoons corn starch mixed with 2 table spoons water
In a sauce pan combine all ingredients except the corn starch. Slowly bring to a boil and simmer until berries blow up, then stir in corn starch mixture to thicken. All the water came from that spring I mention in the story that follows.
In the summer of 1997, it was the fifth year of the Cove/Mallard Campaign attempting to protect a 77,000 acre chunk of wilderness from road building and clear cuts. Shortly before the kick off for that summer’s resistance an injunction prohibiting logging in all of Idaho was lifted. We were short on warriors as a result and in dire straits as the logging company began work on the Noble timber sale. When we got a small influx from Boise we decide to take action while they could help. On a full moon evening we departed our base camp and went to the Noble road, to set up a blockade, we hoped would last. During the night we managed to put up two tripods connected together with cable from apex to apex, with two activists set up on platforms underneath the apexes. The next morning the loggers arrived, then law enforcement, not very happy I must say. They took a bunch of photographs and left us there. Our Boise crew also departed, leaving the two arrestees, me, and one other person. Upon lasting 24 hours, we decided that we were in desperate need of more people to hold the road. There was a Casey Neil show in Moscow, ID, so we decided I would go and try and somehow convince the liberals and college students to come and reinforce the blockade with more people and more structures. That left the two arrestees and one direct support on site. It was a four hour drive to Moscow, where office and media team were located. I made it to the show just in time to show pictures of the blockade and make a pitch for folks to come. No one step forward, but the office folks convinced me I should spend the night instead of heading right back to the Noble Road. The next morning I head back into the wild woods and arrived at the Noble Road, to find a bunch of busted up tripods, but no people, a bit strange. It did not take me long to conclude that my three friends had been arrested. So I hoped into the car, stopping at a pay phone (no cells, back then) to call the office and confirm they had been taken to Boise. Traveling six more hours, I got to Boise in time to greet my friends getting out of jail, having been released on their promise to appear for trial in federal court, months down the road.
After a night of celebration, we headed back to our base camp with the original four of us. Realizing we did not have enough people to do another blockade, we decided to go to the National Rainbow Gathering in Oregon and attempt to recruit enough hippies to pull off another action. Upon arrival we set up our little camp and a full size tripod right over the main trail into the main circle area. We had some punker fliers and our own sparkly eyed zealous commitment to saving the place we loved. We stayed three days, got some praise and a load of shit from some that our activism was putting a damper on peoples bliss. Loading our sole two recruits into the car, we headed back to Idaho and the frontlines of the fight. How we were gone two new folks showed up from the china left timber sale struggle in southern Oregon. They both agreed to risk arrest and we quickly came up with a plan to set up another blockade, this time on the Jack timber sale. We all loaded up in a small pickup with all the gear to set up two bipods, and got dropped off about a mile from the Jack Road. During the rest of the day we managed to gather four horribly heavy freshly dead lodge pole pines to the blockade site on the road and next to a spring. We waited till dusk to set them up and things did not go smoothly. There were only nine of us and the damn things weighed 1500 pounds, even with the aid of a come along, those bipods would not go up. One of our Rainbow friends got his foot smash in one failed attempt reducing the set up crew to eight. At dawn the rigged bipods were still on the ground. Two things then happened one after the other. The first was that our base camp sitter arrived to check on us and help. The second, as we attached the rigging to the come along and prepared to haul up the bipod, was a moose appeared in the clearing below us. As the moose watched, first one bipod went up and then second one also went up. The moose departed and the crew, minus the arrestees who were now moved into their Arial homes, promptly went to sleep right on the logging road. Several hours later we were woken up by the Forest Service Resource people and the timber contractor, doing a final walk through before logging started. To say the least they were a bit shocked to find us there in the way. After a brief and somewhat hostile conversation, they left to be replaced by law enforcement. The cops took pictures, made some threats and departed, these were the second and third bipods ever set up in the “U.S.” and they seemed confused as to how they would get the people in them out. Thus began what became known as the High Jack blockade.
After a nap, we moved onto the jack road, bringing crappy kitchen equipment, 5 gallon buckets of bulk goods, and some coolers with fresh produce. We had a fire under a blue tarp (you will understand why the color of tarp is important latter) where all the cooking for the blockade crew took place. Since the cops had left, that night we sprung back into action mode. Our thought was that if there was a person willing to lock down, we would add to the blockade. During the wee hours a sleeping dragon was installed in front of the two bipods, and Smooch moved in. We also set up a security station a mile up the road, so our lock downs did not have to spend all their time up in the air. The site of the blockade was located next to a little spring, in a younger lodge pole pine stand. The sides of the creek were loaded with huckleberry bushes, which we picked thousands of berries. Thus we made lots of huckleberry pancakes and syrup during the course of the High Jack Blockade.
During the time of this blockade, which lasted 74 days, in between adding structures for new lock downs and other items to strengthen the blockade, there was a lot of boring down time. A logging road is not the greatest place to live for a couple of months. Generally, if you’re a lock down you never get to leave the area unless you have a replacement, willing to take a possible bust. So we developed a crappy game called tarpology. There were degrees you could hear in the game: bachelors, masters, and PHD. Everyone was either wildly successful or incredibly bad at it depending on the day. On cold rainy days the amount of degrees went up a lot. If you won, it was not really a good thing, because it meant you were very good at being a dead weight slacker. As I mentioned earlier we had all these five gallon buckets of bulk goods and these were used as seats around the fire. The object of tarpology was never to lose your bucket seat placed at the warmest spot around the fire and to get others to do all the work. A PHD candidate, might mention they were hungry or the fire needed wood, however they would never leave there seat to do anything about it. In addition they would not move if in the way of cooking or any other task. A super good participant would even take their bucket when going to take a piss, so as not to lose a seat, we only had so many buckets, not enough for everyone. In latter months we decided that being under a blue tarp was a causal factor in tarpology expertise.
High Jack was named that because most of the lock downs were aerial structures and we added to it through out those 74 days. Our goal was to have something new every time the cops came by for a recon visit and some often hostile talk. In the end this is what the blockade consisted of, from the front to the back. If you were to walk from the forest service gate a mile up the Jack Road the first thing you would see was a culvert wall dug into the road. Behind that wall were a 20’ high, 40’ long, and 20’ wide slash pile nailed and wired together. Under the slash pile was smooches sleeping dragon. Behind the slash pile were those first two bipods, with the anchor lines rebarred into the road. Next the dragons roast as we called it, which was made with two culverts tied together and cemented into the ground. These rose about 25’ in the air, with one containing cement and a lock down tube, with a platform for Crusty, who occupied that device. After the dragons roost was a double tripod. The double tripod was two tripods connected at the apex by a single pole. The platform was anchored on the pole near the back tripod. Behind that was a third bipod, this one the tallest of the three at 50 ft. After that was the kitchen fire and tarp and said bulk bucket seats. We set up the last bipod about a week before the big law enforcement raid. It was a full moon night, and one of our folks was a talented musician. While the structure was set up he played a concert for us by the fire. I will never forget attaching the platform high in the air how the music played below me.
As a bit of a side track, many people wonder how I got the name grumble and it happened on this blockade. In the first couple of weeks we decided everyone would take forest names, to protect their identity from the police. I thought it was kinda useless for me, as the cops after five years could identify me from how I walked from 100 yards away. None the less I went along as it is what the group agreed too. Someone had once called me grumblesox, on an organizing trip for Walk across America for Mother Earth (a whole series of stories, as it went on for 9 months, and went from New York to Nevada) in 1992. So I told folks you can call me Grumblesox, this was shortened to Grumble. I never lost that Nick name, and most people have called me that ever since.
The end of High Jack blockade finally came on a chilly morning in late September, 74 days after that moose had appeared in the draw. Forest Service law enforcement came up the same draw at 5am, with guns drawn. There were over 40 officers involved along with a cherry picker, a bulldozer, a jack hammer and the numerous trucks they had arrived in. Over the course of the next 18 hours we watched them dismantle the blockade and arrest our friends. It was dark by the time they removed the last lock down in the third bipod. The take down had included all kinds of dangerous actions by the cops to get people out of their structures. I could go into a lot more detail, but that would make this much longer. The jack hammer was used on the sleeping dragon to get smooch out, who was not wearing attends, so the cops made a diaper out of his tarp. The cherry picker and chainsaws were used to remove the Ariel lockdowns in a most dangerous manner, but no one got hurt. We loaded up in cars and headed down to Boise to support our friends at their arraignment. They were released and we headed back to Cove/Mallard to continue the struggle. At the end there were 20 people involved in the High Jack blockade, with a bunch more that came and went.
That fall we pulled off two more blockades of the Jack road, even with 24 hour security. In late October a crew of us traveled back to the Jack Timber sale to monitor the logging that was taking place for violations. I can remember traveling back along the road to the units with tiny creeks and old growth western larch, Douglas fir, and ponderosa, as yet uncut. All was peaceful and still, as snow fell on the silent land scape. But I knew that soon the trees I was snapping pictures of, would be no more, turned into 2 by 4s to build some home, somewhere. With the knowledge of these old trees, having watched hundreds of years past, would be forever gone.
The Jack Timber sale was the last sale completed in Cove/Mallard, that winter the other six sales were canceled, through a combination of public pressure, law suites, and 5 years of action and persistence we had achieved a partial victory. On the large picture are tenuous defense of Roadless areas moved the big greens to push for the Roadless rule, which ended up, at least for now, in protecting 60 million acres of national forest lands from road building and logging. Those struggles from two decades ago now fade into history, but have lessons for the fights of today. Struggles take time and consistence actions, consistent pressure applied over and over again. Often during the mist of the battle, you will think you are losing, but in the large picture and with the accumulative effects of your actions you might actually be winning. In the case of Cove/Mallard, we saw three roads and sales completed, but in the large picture a lot of other areas across the national forest system are still intact functioning ecosystems for future generations.