Here's a sign on one of the primitive roads that crosses Mendocino National Forest, which at one time was known simply as the California National Forest. The road's pavement ends a couple of miles on. Mendo Forest is million acres, it's close to San Francisco, has Snow Mountain and Yolla Bolly Wilderness areas, and nobody ever goes there as far as I can tell. There's a patch of Forest Products land in the middle that's supposed to be one of the worst examples of destructive logging practices anywhere. I rode up Goat Mountain in a downpour, then left on M5 dropping down to Hough Springs, then up Windy Ridge and down to Clear Lake. Someone told me to find springs by looking for Alder stands, but I found inholder estates more abundant indicators. Or rabbitbrush, in Nevada. I passed only one car that day. Actually, I didn't pass it; I was trying to figure out how to cross the river to get to the road that the car, a big white pickup truck, drove past on. Eventually, I just waded over. Then I found an old, old river turtle in the road. Maybe all the rain made him adventurous to strike out away from the river, I don't know. He must have diesel-ed up a 100-foot bank to get to the road, and it must have taken him a long time. He might have wanted to rest a while once he got out onto that flat road, with all the wonderful rainwater rolling down it. Then, the one white pickup truck that I had seen maybe fifteen minutes earlier ran over the front of his head, mangling his jaw and putting out one eye. I knew something was wrong when I picked him up and he didn't retract his head. There was already an ant crawling in the wound; he couldn't stick out his tongue to eat it. I knew I had to kill him, so I got out my knife and did the deed. I never thought before how hard it is to kill a turtle. I thought about making a fire and roasting him in his shell, but I didn't have an apetite. I just left him there off the side of the road. I was taught to kill badly injured animals, but I don't really know if it's the right thing to do. I've been injured enough to know that pain only comes later, so you can save them the pain. But does a turtle want a chance to try and get right with God, or what? I never know what to do.

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