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Dark Behind It Rose The Forest
September 5, 2009 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Inside America's most dangerous national forest.
posted by WPW (44 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes, but this was twelve years ago. Just sayin'.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:17 PM on September 5, 2009


I didn't notice the date. Damn. It's still a fascinating feature.
posted by WPW at 4:21 PM on September 5, 2009


It was even more dangerous while it was all on fire.
posted by The World Famous at 4:24 PM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


WTF is up with the shifting type size and random bold paragraphs? I found myself being more distracted by the crappy presentation of the text than the actual content of the article.

And yes, it's more interesting when it's all burning down. Bad guys? In the wilderness of the Wild West? What will they think of next???
posted by hippybear at 4:30 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't notice the date until I finished the article. I thought it would be all about illegal marijuana grows and wildfires, I was really surprised at the focus on gangland killings, satanists and white pride groups. Now that I know the date I wonder if "national forests are dangerous!" is sort of a shtick journalists use. White pride groups in the 90s, roving gangs of Mexican farmers in the 00s ...
posted by geoff. at 4:36 PM on September 5, 2009


Unfortunately, Mr. Potato Head (the LEOs give names to all their cases) never would be fully reassembled.

I think Humpty Dumpty would have been more appropriate.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:38 PM on September 5, 2009


Old or no, interesting read, thanks for posting.
posted by vito90 at 4:43 PM on September 5, 2009


Bucket of parts, see. Potato Head.
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:55 PM on September 5, 2009


"It would be interesting if all the bodies could stand up at once, so we could acknowledge them and do a head count"

With apologies to Mr. Potato Head for the lack of sensitivity.
posted by hal9k at 5:02 PM on September 5, 2009


Shorty.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:06 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Arson, which ranks second to marijuana cultivation cases in the number of man-hours consumed, seems to fascinate, confuse, and unsettle the LEOs more than any other crime they investigate.

Considering the SoCal fires, you would think they could get their priorities straight.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 5:32 PM on September 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yikes, we used to go up there in college and had no idea! Worse yet, it was almost twelve years ago that I lived nearby! It's been weird seeing all the fire photos too.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 5:59 PM on September 5, 2009


Satanist murders? Are we sure this wasn't written more than 12 years ago?
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:03 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Between 2000 and 2005, I hiked there quite a bit by myself. I don't recognize the place they describe in the article, though to be fair, I rarely went off-trail.
posted by Slothrup at 6:09 PM on September 5, 2009


It's funny to me, reading this article, because I'm used to thinking about Angeles National Forest from the *other* side, that is from the Inland Empire and the mountains and eastward.

It's a little disconcerting to read about the author descending into LA, and the nastiness that Angeles faces as a result of it being so close to a major urban area, because I had never really associated the forest that surrounded My Favorite Places to Ski with The Urban Pit of Hell (as I called LA before I lived there).

If you take the roads up to the little corner of Angeles that's in San Bernardino, I can assure you it's a much different experience than coming from LA, or LA as it was written in that article. Probably way more meth, though.
posted by librarylis at 6:21 PM on September 5, 2009


This article plays perfectly into the picture of Los Angeles as a post-apocalyptic urban wasteland swarming with gangs and ruled by drug warlords.

I'd like to report to the rest of the country that I live in LA, have worked in South LA, and have camped and hiked in the Angeles National Forest, and it's really no worse than anyplace else in the US, thanks.
posted by hifiparasol at 6:24 PM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


I quit reading when I found the danger was caused by (surprise!) just more people. In a better world, National Forests and Parks would be where you are fearful of the (non-human) wildlife. And fascinated too! Where you would be frightened of getting lost in the undomesticated terrain--with dwindling food and water--wasting away: your rotting carcass eaten by vultures and coyotes. That's fear. Noble fear. Not lame ass wannabe satanists, dealers, and other assorted scumbags with shitty little rotted minds moldered on fast food, bad drugs, and worse movies.

God damn I miss Edward Abbey.
posted by belvidere at 6:38 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the warning. The pessimistic side of me does not think things have improved in the last 12 years, which the article at http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0802/p02s01-ussc.html confirms. I guess there's a silver lining in the main road being closed for the near future.
posted by kindalike at 6:40 PM on September 5, 2009


Well, if nothing else it was interesting to learn that human beings can fuck up forests in ways that don't involve cutting the trees down.
posted by you just lost the game at 6:48 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's depressing that so much of the park burned since the article was written. It's all part of the natural cycle, sure, but with the heavy use the park receives, it's anyone's guess if the vegetation will be able to recover.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:50 PM on September 5, 2009


Thanks for the warning. The pessimistic side of me does not think things have improved in the last 12 years, which the article at http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0802/p02s01-ussc.html confirms. I guess there's a silver lining in the main road being closed for the near future.

worth noting that the actual statistics at the bottom of that article (which are apparently in dispute) don't really show any significant trend, and part of the article is acknowledging that fact
posted by alk at 7:12 PM on September 5, 2009


This sentence "The stink will be there a week later; the memory will last a lot longer." really illustrates the author's love of drama.. darn, he's talking about a dead skunk in the road, I go by about twenty of those every morning on the way to work!
posted by HuronBob at 7:24 PM on September 5, 2009


Gloomy reports about Angeles NF are a bit of a staple around here. I was just reading this one from 1987!

It is interesting to contrast the concerns over the twenty year span.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:49 PM on September 5, 2009


I am up in the forest a lot, and as far as I can see, the biggest concern is people dumping not dead bodies but old toilets, TV sets and couches by the sides of the road. There was a positive TV-dumping spree going on up there a couple of weeks ago. I did see a big rag doll hanging by its neck from a fence one time, but that's about as close to a major crime as I've gotten.
posted by OolooKitty at 7:55 PM on September 5, 2009


Most dangerous forest? What a joke. Marlboros don't spawn there.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:09 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I quit reading when I found the danger was caused by (surprise!) just more people.


me, too.

Speaking as someone who spends a good portion of the year in the northern Canadian wilderness, I have no problem being eaten by a grizzly or gored by a buffalo; it beats going out at the hands of someone who's dumb enough to think Satan requires sacrifice, or that everyone of a different race needs to leave the planet immediately.

I mean, at least the grizzly would come back to check if I'm still dead, and eat me.
posted by mannequito at 8:52 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good christ, I hate that article every time I see it pop up online.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:58 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Read this a while back. While I give them credit for transposing the usual "omg L.A. so dangerous!!1!" scare-mongering onto a new location, the article is sorely lacking in real citations of incidents or statistics ("They've been seeing more gang killings up here in recent years.") It basically just reads like some Reno 911 type rangers who are bummed they couldn't make LAPD, and are trying to play up how tough their "beat" is.

The forest abuts a major major city where there are a lot of murders, so I'm sure someone has dumped a body there at some point. And I'm sure there are white supremacists in the surrounding desert towns. But I have never felt anything but completely safe in the Angeles. A while back my friend and I went camping up there. Guess what the big scary Mexican dude at the next site did? He helped us get our fire started, hung out with us, and offered us coffee the next morning.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:04 PM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Next month in Outside:

DID YOU GUYS KNOW SOME GUY GOT KILLED IN CENTRAL PARK ONCE SO YOU SHOULD NEVER GO THERE EVER????!!111!1!!!!1111!
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:08 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Inside America's Most Dangerous Game: Camping.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:26 PM on September 5, 2009


WTF is up with the shifting type size and random bold paragraphs?

The bold small caps is a pull quote. So these repeat wording from elsewhere in the article and may be out of place.

The problem with the smaller text, though, is places where they start a new paragraph at the top of a table cell without specifically enclosing it in a <p> tag. It doesn't receive the style. Sloppy pre-CMS hand-HTML.
posted by dhartung at 9:32 PM on September 5, 2009


Angeles Crest is one of the most fun drives I have ever done. We went back in may when the tail end to the mojave was closed so there was next to no traffic.

Just purchased Miata, 55 mile an hour speed limit and a sign that read "VERY VERY CURVY ROADS NEXT 77 MILES)

Fucking incredible.

And it's all on fire right now.. once it's all out and it turns to fall, head out there. It's a great drive.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:38 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The problem with the pull quotes, though, is that there was no rhyme or reason to them. Usually, a pull quote comes from the following text, and it serves as an appetizer, to draw your interest into the next block of text. These pull quotes were seemingly random, and mostly seemed to be placed after they had already appeared in the main body.

I'd be happy to offer my services as a copy editor, should Outside be interested.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:44 PM on September 5, 2009


Sorry, but you Californians are too laid back to be very scary. Southern gothic is much worse. I live one river and a few hundred feet from the Sumter National Forest, where among other crimes there was the drug-fueled murder of a teenaged girl and the murder of a wife and child for insurance money. Of course, Florida takes the cake with the Ocala National Forest. Perhaps it is because meth is the drug manufactured there, as opposed to pot. Or perhaps it is because some people are assholes (as mentioned above) and gravitate to isolated areas to dispose of bodies. Although now that I am looking at a certain user's location, I see that perhaps the California bodies are properly disposed of and have never been found. Of course Florida still has pythons in their wilderness areas.


I am ready to move back to the suburbs now.
posted by TedW at 9:48 PM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, and to the OP; since you share a name with one of the cardiologists I work with, I take it you have been checked out for a delta wave. (Couldn't resist a little late-night beer-fueled medical humor.)
posted by TedW at 9:51 PM on September 5, 2009


wow, that python article TedW linked to is interesting.

I'm pretty snake-phobic and generally want all of those creatures to die!die!die!, yet couldn't help but feel sorry for this poor guy (the snake, not the scientist):

In June, I hooked up with Snow to observe the release of four wild pythons into Everglades National Park, each previously caught and implanted with two radio transmitters near the anus.....In the field, Michael Dorcas, a big-bellied biology professor from Davidson College in North Carolina, inspected one large snake and noticed that it had managed to expel one of its radio transmitters......Despite his fogging eyeglasses, Dorcas finally succeeded in closing the snake back up, but not before it defecated a creamy ooze all over itself and the tailgate.
posted by mannequito at 10:09 PM on September 5, 2009


Also, 25% of the forest just burned, and is still burning, making this maybe not the most appealing bit of grave-pissing for those of us who live here.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:21 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


TedW, that's an FPP right there.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:46 PM on September 5, 2009


Drjimmy11, my apologies. This was obviously a mistake, what with the fires, which I simply didn't think of. And coming from an allegedly dangerous area of an allegedly dangerous city, I know how frustrating some media coverage can be.
posted by WPW at 5:01 AM on September 6, 2009


Also, 25% of the forest just burned, and is still burning, making this maybe not the most appealing bit of grave-pissing for those of us who live here.

Eh, I live here too and don't see the fires as such a bad thing. I feel badly for the people whose homes were damaged, and for the firefighters toiling in this heat, but the area was due for a big natural burn, and this is it. It's supposed to happen. And it's not like there are no other forest areas nearby to go visit instead. The perpetual Hiroshima mushroom cloud on the horizon even looks pretty cool.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:35 AM on September 6, 2009


Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese, I'm guessing that you don't live somewhere where your nice view of beautiful mountains (in fairness, the view isn't actually from my house, since I don't have a "view") has now been turned into an apocalyptic view of Mordor. I'm all for nature and its various processes, but it sucks that, whereas I used to live right by a beautiful and awesome wilderness area, I now live right by a burn zone that I can't really do anything with.
posted by The World Famous at 12:10 PM on September 6, 2009


The World Famous, you're right, the affected mountains are a distant view for me. I'm sure it's terrible to live that close, and you'll have to be wary of mudslides when the rains come, but in a year or two there will be greenery again, if not trees. It must be distressing to have an apocalyptic backyard but this is what one has to expect living in that area; it's natural for it to burn and regrow.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:33 PM on September 6, 2009


Dark Behind It Rose The Forest is easily the best thing Jason Molina's ever done.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:41 PM on September 6, 2009


I saw a copy of Outside gracing our office's breakroom periodical shelves recently and it irrationally struck me as a clear sign of the crushing of humanity under society: "Outside? You mean THAT SPACE BEYOND THE DOOR?!?"
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:11 PM on September 8, 2009


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