Smack, cut, toss

There I was…turning into the drive leading to the cabin.  Gorgeous night Friday; temps in the low single digits, just starting to cloud up with the promise of snow.  What I didn’t expect was the results of all the rain we had last week followed by the -40 temps.  

I’d  had a bit of a head’s up from a friend out there saying we might need a bow saw or a chain saw to get the half mile back into the cabin.  He’d tried to plow the drive a day or two earlier and only managed to get a hundred yards or  so into the lane.  So I grabbed a folding pruning saw I carry in my survival kit for just these purposes, a packable zip saw, my camp hatchet,  and headed off.  I was totally unprepared for what lay ahead.

A hundred and ten yards into the lane, the willows were bent over to the ground; covered in an inch of snow over a quarter-inch of ice.  There were a few birches and a thin spruce or two as well.  Out comes the folding saw and my camp hatchet .  Smack with the hatchet to break the ice and loosen an avalanche of snow (which invariably went right down the back of my neck no matter where I stood), and then cut the way through each sapling.  Move the truck a few yards and do it all again.  Toss the pieces off far enough that there’s room for the snow when the lane finally gets plowed.  Smack, cut, toss, smack, cut, toss.  Forty-five minutes to go 3/8’s of a mile.  Did I mention the cabin was half a mile back?

At the 3/8’s or so point, an 8 inch diameter spruce had fallen across the lane.  We could have driven over it if it had been on the ground, but each side of the lane has a little hillock and the trunk was a good foot off the ground; right about bumper height. The folding saw I have isn’t gonna hack his and my zip saw would take an hour or so to hack through.  I’m already sweating my butt off even though it’s just about zero.  Two choices here:  hike the last eighth mile to the cabin, dig the chainsaw out of the shed, fire it up and make short work of the tree or back the whole way out and head home. No brainer.  Except the chainsaw won’t start after being cold soaked for three days at -40 no matter how hard or often I pull the rope.  Got the wood stove fired up and the oil stove working so the cabin’s thawing out from its deep freeze and head back to the rig  to drive to the lodge and borrow my buddy’s chainsaw.  If anyone has one that’ll start first pull, it’s him. 

“Cept he’s not there and the lodge is closed. So it’s off to the other friend’s to borrow theirs.  Couple of pulls on the starter and we have a working  chainsaw.  Back to the fallen tree to finish the job and finally get to the cabin.  Oh yeah, on the walk in from the spruce, there were six or seven more willows and birches drooped across the lane that’ll need cleaned up to get the truck through.  Zip, zip, zip and we’re in.  An hour and a half to go a half mile.  It was worth it. 

Saturday evening was spent zipping along on the snowmachines (snowmobiles to you southerners) cleaning up the few branches that scraped across the truck roof and fenders.  More snow down the neck, but there’s room for Steve’s plow truck now.  And he shows up this morning, cleared the foot or so that was on the ground and we’re off to the lodge on the sleds.  Good thing I packed the folding saw and the pruning shears….the trail was worse than the driveway. 

I’m beat up, my boots are soaked, I’ve sweated off about 10 pounds, and had a great weekend.  I really hate to go to work tomorrow……


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