I misted up reading "Trail's End" about retiring the Forest Service pack string. It's a bittersweet end of an era that I was part of.

The late Gordon Walker, packer from 1953 until 1984, spent much of his career on the Butte Falls Ranger District where I worked. In 1957, at age 19, I spent a summer as lookout on Bessie Rock Lookout. Gordon and his dog Snoopy packed my supplies into the isolated lookout, and supplied me every two weeks. They did the same when I was lookout on Devils Peak. They packed our trail construction crews into camps, packing our food and gear, including dynamite. Their pack string supplied many a back-country fire crew.

It was a pleasure working with Gordon. He was a prince and I've never met anyone who didn't respect him, especially his pack string. You don't boss mules around, you earn their respect, and Gordon was a master.

Gordon has written several books of his backcountry adventures. Anyone interested in packing should obtain copies.

Farewell, Gordon, Snoopy, and all past Forest Service packers and animals who packed so capably over the years (I never had a broken egg). — Lloyd Holm Butte Falls

While I was talking to a friend at my school about a variety of political subjects, we came across something that hit the "on" button.

We were talking about the Iraq war and how one of the reasons we are in there is that we are getting rid of the radicals. Then I realized something. I said to him, "Evan, you have to understand that to them we are the radicals. We are the young nation on the block, the guys who have just risen to our glory. We are the people with all these new ideas that most people have yet to comprehend. They have been doing what they are doing for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, and here we come in and start strutting around and calling them radicals. When you think about it, we are the radicals here."

Once I started to think about it, it made a lot more sense. The basic definition of radical is "relating to or affecting the basic nature or most important features of something," and we are affecting the basic nature of the Middle East.

It would be like us marching into Africa and starting to depose some of the governments and trying to create peace in their lands, which probably will not work right away. America likes to put itself on the highest possible pedestal, and accepts only one point of view, which happens to be our own. — Mark Shinner, Medford

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