Gordie Mauhl and the Morton Loggers Jubilee are both in their 77th year — and neither is showing any signs of letting up.
“I don’t think I’ve missed a year,” said Mauhl, following a strong showing in the double buck event — in which he and a partner raced others to saw through a large log. “Whether I’m crippled up or not, I still show up.”
The Carnation, Washington resident has been a regular at the Jubilee since he first attended it in 1970. For most of the event’s history, Mauhl has been part of the scene, making the annual pilgrimage to Morton with saws and axes in tow.
“I call and remind him not to miss,” joked Sonny Mettler, one of the event’s organizers. “He’s a big part of it.”
Mauhl said his brother-in-law, a logger, first got him interested in timbersports, and he’s been hooked ever since.
“He called me up one night and said, ‘Do you want to learn how to saw?’” he said. “I said sure, and I’m still doing it.”
Mel Lentz, another contestant, said he enjoys seeing Mauhl on the circuit.
“I’ve known Gordie forever,” he said. “He’s been a really good competitor. For him to be his age and competing like that, it’s pretty phenomenal.”
Asked if Mauhl’s ongoing competitiveness is an inspiration to stick with the sport in his later years, Lentz laughed.
“I don’t think I’m as keen as Gordie is,” he said.
For Mauhl, the event is about the spirit of the competitors, not winning or losing. That’s what makes Loggers Jubilee special.
“It’s just good people,” he said. “The camaraderie, the people, they treat you great. I love honest play. If I’m going to lose, I’ll lose, if I’m going to win, I’ll win — but I want it fair. It’s always been that way here.”
Having been part of the event for so many years, Mauhl is a familiar face to many in Morton, which made him a fan favorite whenever he competed Saturday.
“I’m just having fun today,” he said. “I know I’m not competing at a top level. I don’t care. They all yell whether you win or lose. I really think a lot of that. It makes good people come back.”
Mauhl said his favorite event is the springboard, in which contestants use an axe to cut a notch into a pole, then place a board into the notch, which they use as a platform to cut a higher notch — moving up the pole until they reach a log at the top, which they then cut through.
Asked how long he plans to keep competing, Mauhl had a quick response.
“Until I fall over,” he said.