Construction Journal Entry Week of 12/30/07

1/2-4/08 I went up to the property for 3 days: Wednesday through Friday.

It had snowed quite a bit during the previous couple days but it was not snowing when I drove over the pass. There was compact snow and ice on the road all the way from the pass to the property, though. I was glad to find that Mike had scooped out the parking place so I was able to drive right in and park. I arrived at 12:50.

I saw fresh boot tracks of someone who had been there and started up the trail for a short ways. They also went to a tree where I found a business card tucked under an old sign board. It was from Ross Williams. Ross had contacted me by email earlier giving me some tips on wiring. He said he was going to be at Lake Wenatchee over New Years, so I wasn't surprised that he had been there. It was too bad I missed him. I was a day later than my usual schedule because of New Years, so if it had been a normal week, I would have been there. I felt bad for missing him but I hope we can connect up some other time.

The snow was so deep and light that I sank in about knee deep with snowshoes on. I used the snowshoes to make trails from the pickup, to the trailer, to the compost pile, to the cabin and to the privy. It was hard work with them sinking in so deep. I started the heater in the trailer and started a fire in the stove in the cabin. Then I made another pass over all the trails with the snowshoes trying to pack the snow down tighter. Even at that, when I took the snowshoes off and tried walking in boots, I would sink in another foot. I postholed and stomped the snow down over all the trails with my boots so I could walk on the trails without sinking in. That was a lot of hard work and took a long time.

Once the trails were all made, I moved my gear into the trailer and had lunch. After lunch, I went to work and sanded the wood surfaces due for another coat of varnish. Then I dismantled the makeshift scaffold I had rigged for working on the south side of the Grid C2 RPSL. Since that was now varnished, I didn't need the scaffolding any longer. I also replaced the temporary guard rail between the C2 RPSL and the D2 PSL in the loft. It was delightful working in the cabin warmed by the fire and with all that snow outside. All the trees were loaded up with about as much snow as they could hold and with the new deep powder snow on the ground, it looked like a Christmas card.

On Thursday, I built another fire in the stove first thing in the morning. Then after breakfast, I shoveled the snow off the mixer and off the privy roof. There was about 3 feet of snow on each of them and it was snowing pretty heavily again. I found a nice long stick for a wand and measured 5 feet of snow on the ground in the open flat areas.

Bert and Ernie showed up and I went to the trailer to get them some dog biscuits which they greatly enjoyed. Then after a few hugs, they went romping off to play in the deep snow.

I had brought a whole pickup box full of cedar branches and boughs from home. These had been trimmed from our big cedar tree to get them away from our telephone line and I brought them with me to dispose of them on the compost pile. I made many trips from the pickup to the compost pile dragging those branches two to half a dozen at a time. That was a lot of work.

Next, I did some splitting of firewood for about as long as my shoulders could take it. Then I went to work planing and scraping more of the Grid A cap log. That is a particularly bad log to work on so progress is unusually slow. Then after a lunch break, I continued working on the log. I got another 8 feet or so of it prepared for the first coat of varnish. I swept up the chips and then vacuumed the wall and the floor before I quit for the night.

On Friday morning, there was quite a bit of new snow on the ground. After lighting a fire in the stove, I measured 5' 6 1/2" on the ground. Then I took my warm can of varnish up to the cabin and varnished the prepared surfaces.

After I had cleaned out my brush, I went down to the porch and just stood there enjoying the beautiful and ultra quiet scene with all the trees loaded up with snow. While I was standing there, I heard a crack from down by the road. Then I heard another one. It sounded like wood being broken. I tried to see where it was coming from and pretty soon I heard a crack and could see a branch move about 20 or 30 feet up in a big cottonwood tree on the edge of the property. After a few more halting cracking sounds, the entire branch broke off and fell crashing into the ditch. I felt really lucky to have been there at that moment to witness it.

Since it had fallen into the ditch, I figured I better go down to see whether it was blocking the road at all. Sure enough, when I got down to the road I could see that it was an enormous branch and limbs were spread all the way across the road completely blocking it. I tried to move the branches, but they were too big and heavy for me to move them at all.

I went back up to the cabin and got the chainsaw and brought it down to the road. I had one heck of a time starting the saw. I pulled on the cord until I was exhausted and would have to rest. Then I pulled a different way, or using my left hand, and having to take rest breaks. I could tell that I was making progress, though, because it turned over a little easier as I tried, and finally it started coughing and catching a little. Finally, after quite a few false starts, it started to run well enough so that I could cut wood.

I bucked up the branches that were across the road. Those were from 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Then I went to work on the main trunk that was on the edge of a snowbank about five feet above the creek. I didn't want the log sections to fall down into the creek so I bucked it in such a way that there was always a branch sticking out that would keep the section from falling in. When I got to where the log was about 7 inches in diameter, I guessed wrong once and got the bar of the saw stuck in the kerf. I was cutting from the top and the log sagged down rather than the other way. To get the saw out, I had to build a crib on the snowbank with log sections I had already cut to make a fulcrum, and then use a longer piece as a lever to lift up the log under the stuck chainsaw bar. That worked after the second try and I got the saw loose. Then I finished bucking up the branch and started clearing the pieces from the road. I'll have to measure it some day, but I think the butt of the branch is about 8 inches in diameter and the branch was about 20 feet long.

Just as I started clearing the road, a car came down the road and stopped. Nancy Kass (I think it was Kass) had a car full of kids from Tall Timber. We talked for a while and then I cleared the road for her and she was on her way. Then I finished dragging all the sizeable pieces of wood down to the driveway and up into the property a ways where I piled it up for firewood. The smaller branches I just threw off the road and into the woods. The whole thing took me about an hour and I worked up quite a sweat getting the job done. Then I went in, had lunch, packed up, and left for home at 2:00.

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