11 May 2009

john henry days

so, I've tried a few times to write this particular post.  

I haven't really been able to put anything together that didn't degenerate into ranting and a string of expletives.  so I'll try to keep the writing to a minimum and let the pics do the work.

the basic story:  early days of "The Big Melt", no one in the area save Mike and DK, and the sole focus for the first few weeks is to haul as much wood as possible into the lodge before we lose the snow altogether.  

3 tasks within the "get wood" framework: 

Task 1: yell "timber", fell tree, trim tree of branches, cut tree into 17 foot logs, drag logs to lodge.  
equipment for task : 2 chainsaws, 2 snowmobiles, 1 sled, 1 rope, 1 stick with a hook on it 

(this last tool is referred to as a "peavey" in the timber industry, after it's 1857 inventor, Joseph Peavy.  "you see that stick with a hook on it Joe's using?  what's he thinking?".....seriously though, you really can't go a-loggin' without one.)

end result: 54 logs in 5 days, 1 broken back 

(not really......but this is what I was referring to....when I try to go into detail, I start bitching about snow, and pain, and 12 hr days, yadda yadda....and right at this moment I'm looking out the window at sunshine, the snow has disappeared, the world is 
becoming truly verdant, and I want nothing to do with the demons of  days past....also, we never do yell "timber"....)

so, this is what a bunch of logs in the back yard looks like:

task 2: drive snowmobile around the woods in what appears to be aimless wandering, but is really spotting burls;  harvest said burls;  drag burls back to lodge.

equipment for task: 2 chainsaws, 2 snowmobiles, 3 sleds

end result: a sh*tload of burls....300 or so, I lost count on day three....they do look pretty cool piled up though....

which brings us to task 3: re-stock the woodpile.  

this particular task obviously ranks much higher on the "basic human survival needs in the AK" scale than the previous two.  it's also usually accomplished with 4 or 5 people.  

equipment for task: 1 Chainsaw, 1 snowmobile, 1 sled, 1 Ten-Pound Maul (this is the axe in the very first photo, used to split the log sections into firewood, the "10 Lb." refers to the weight of the head...that photo was taken on Day 3 of wood-splittin')

the basic workflow: Mike drops tree, cuts it into sections w/Chainsaw, goes to next tree....DK hauls sections to woodpile, splits them w/Maul, goes gets more....repeat....repeat...repeat....repeat...for SEVEN DAYS.....

here's what it looked like midway through day 1:

the tarp-line is where we started from....the woodpile holds 19 rows, each row is about 2.5 cords of wood, it takes about two trees to fill a row...when we started, there were three rows left in the pile....we also had to shovel out space as we went, as the snow had not melted yet...good times. 

the photo below is during Day 4.....signs of progress....and signs of madness setting in.

you really need to stay Zen throughout the process....one more axe-swing, one more axe-swing, one more axe-swing....."getting mad at it" would burn you out long before the task was done, and trying to measure progress/gauge how much was left to do would just depress you into immobility....

this might be the point where you ask, "don't they make hydraulic & mechanical log-splitters to do this?"  and while this is true, one that could effectively split the size & quantity of logs we're processing would be prohibitively expensive....

and besides....ain't no machine made gonna beat a steel-drivin' man.....one more axe-swing, one more axe-swing, one more axe-swing....

which will eventually bring you through the mountain....or kill you.

in this case, it brings us to the Day 7  mug-shots below:

it's a lil' bit of wood.  

and I'll ramble on about it no more.

as I mentioned earlier, my world looks a whole lot different today than in the photos above - no snow, everything's green, the swallows returned from Capistrano yesterday, the first float-plane will drop in soon...."The Big Melt" is over.  

good f*cking riddance.

and if anyone needs a dramatically effective exercise regime, I've got just the thing.....

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