Construction Journal for 1993

1/24/93 Ellen and I spent a night at the trailer. We cross country skied on the roads. The snow was armpit deep at the trailer. The A-frame shelter protected the trailer just fine. It needs a porch, though, to keep the snow from accumulating in front of the door. The propane tanks were nearly empty so we took them home with us.

1/31/93 Dave and Janet stayed a night at the trailer. They filled the propane tanks and installed them.

5/23/93 Ellen and I spent a night at the trailer. We hiked the road above the viewpoint above our property. We also visited Fish Lake.

5/30/93 Ellen and I spent a night at the trailer after hiking up Dirtyface Mountain.

6/30/93 Ellen, Marielle, and I spent a night at the trailer after hiking to the Alpine Lookout from the Round Mountain trail.

??/??/?? I made at least two trips on dates which I can't remember. One time I was alone and I did some excavation at the spring site. I rigged a bipod over the spring and used it to haul a 400 (or so) lb. rock out of the spring and place it on the north bank of the spring pool.

On the other trip, Dave was with me and we used two come-alongs to haul an even bigger rock out of the spring and leave it on the east bank of the spring. We were able to lower the water level in the spring pond by about 8 or 10 inches. When we were done, we dammed the pond back up to restore the water level to its original level.

8/17-19/93 Spent three days digging a 200' by 18" trench and installing a telephone cable in it. I also installed the telephone in the trailer. All that remains is for GTE to hook up service. They should have that done before I go up again.

8/31-9/1/93 On Tuesday, I bought one yard of mixed sand and gravel from Two Rivers Sand and Gravel for making concrete for the spring box. Cleared logs from the trail and improved the trail to make it easier to haul materials up to the spring site. The next day, Wednesday, I hauled the mixing box and 39 loads of sand and gravel up to the spring. Each load was four shovelfuls of sand and gravel mix in an old backpack we bought at a garage sale. It worked great. I estimated that it is 350 yards from the sandpile to the spring and based on that, the 40 trips amounted to 15.9 miles. That was a pretty good hike for one day.

Between 11 AM and about 1 PM, a helicopter kept flying over the White River in what looked like a search pattern. There were also one or two small fixed wing planes that kept flying over. I wondered if someone were lost on that stretch of the river. A phone company guy stopped by to check that the phone wire was buried in the trench and ready to be hooked up. It was. He said there would be some delay in getting a private line but it should only be a matter of a few weeks.

9/16-9/17/93 Spent two days at the property with Bob Burton. On Thursday, we excavated and cleaned out the spring site and made forms for the concrete base slab around the spring. We also bought two sacks of cement. On Friday morning we mixed and poured the concrete slab. We were pleased with the result.

On the drive up to the property, we saw what we think was a grey wolf loping across Highway 2 about an eighth of a mile West of the rest area near Cole's Corner. The animal only took about four bounds to cross the highway. That evening, we went to the Ranger Station and found a poster with an 800 number to call if you spot a wolf-like animal in Washington. I called the number to report what we had seen and left a message.

About four different times during the night, we could hear what we are sure were wolves howling. One time it sounded like from two to four animals howling at once and they sounded quite a ways away. The howling continued for about fifteen minutes on this occasion. Later on, a single animal howled for less than a minute but it sounded very close. Still later on, there were a couple more episodes of howling that were more distant again. I think it is exciting to have wolves in the area and I intend to take a tape recorder with me from now on to try to record the howling at night.

9/23-24/93 Spent two days, Thursday and Friday at the property. On Thursday I hauled the springbox forms up to the spring site and got it fitted and anchored to the rocks and slab. I also bought a sack of cement from Two Rivers.

I fitted the form by suspending it over the spring using the same poles for a derrick that I used earlier to pull a large boulder out of the spring. (For some reason, that activity didn't get logged in this log). After the form was level, and aligned exactly above where I wanted it, I lowered it until part of it just touched the rocks. Then I scribed lines on the inside form and the outside form that conformed to the shape of the slab or rock directly under it. This gave a pretty close fit. This was as far as I got on Thursday. I wanted to be ready to pour concrete the next morning, but I wasn't quite ready. After it got too dark to work up at the spring, I did some backfilling of the telephone wire trench.

The next morning, I cut the holes for, and installed the 3 inch brass pipes in the springbox form. This took a long time because I used a coping saw with a rather dull blade. Next I put the form in place and filled in gaps where the scribing was off or where the form was too short. I used a piece of sheet metal to seal off the inside form in the sand and gravel in the spring hole. I was just finishing this work at about 3:30 in the afternoon (it took longer than I wanted) when Mike Dickinson of Dickinson Construction came up and found me as we had planned. We went down to the trailer and talked about installation of a septic system. He got the information he needed and said he would send me a bid for the work.

I hurried back to the spring and started mixing concrete at 4:00. By 5:30 or so, I was about half done and had used up the half bag of cement left over from the slab work. I went down to the pickup and got the new bag. I had just returned to the spring carrying the bag of cement in a backpack when Wayne Rayfield of Swiftwater Construction came up to the spring right behind me. This was also as we had planned. I stopped work for a half hour or so he too could see the lay of the land and the site evaluation paperwork. He also promised to send me a bid for a septic system.

I was able to finish mixing and pouring concrete before dark, but it was pitch dark before I got the tools packed back down and the troweling done. I did that part by flashlight.

It took me another hour to winterize the trailer and load up to leave for home. I left at 9:00. The winterizing didn't go according to plan. The plan was to use the antifreeze that was in the trailer water tank. The problem was that the tank was nearly full of water with the antifreeze mixed in. I don't know how the water got into the tank, but it must have gone backward through the water pump or something. Anyway, the pipes have only a very dilute antifreeze in them. Before I left, I opened the drain on the water tank so next time I go up there, I will winterize using pure antifreeze. I hope the pipes don't break in the meantime.

10/1-2/93 I took Bill Edson up to the property on Friday after my Russian class at the U. The class is 5 days a week and gets out at 1:30 PM. This makes it awkward to find time to work on the cabin. We met at the Jaunita Park and Ride lot at about 2:30 but there was a detour and an hour and a half delay on Highway 522. As a result, we didn't get to the property until about 6:00.

Since it had been less than 3 weeks since Bill had had major surgery, I planned to do all the heavy work and Bill was to take it easy and do only light work. It turned out that there was plenty of work that he could do and he was a great help.

In my haste to get ready for the trip, I forgot the cooler and of course its contents, and I also forgot the shovels and hoe. We made do with the food that was in the trailer and the scoop I used for cement would also substitute for a shovel, but there was no good substitute for the hoe for mixing concrete. In the remaining daylight on Friday, I hauled 4 backpacks of aggregate to the spring site while Bill began removing the forms from the springbox. Since I didn't have the shovel, I didn't really know how much aggregate I was loading in the backpack. I figured I needed 8 backpacks altogether and that left only four more for Saturday morning. I still hadn't decided what to do about the hoe.

Saturday morning, I got up at first light and carried 4 more backpacks of aggregate up to the spring, and then went in for breakfast. At breakfast, Bill and I talked it over and decided to go to Leavenworth to buy a hoe. We considered checking with the general store at Lake Wenatchee, but we figured that even if they had one, the price would probably be high enough to justify a trip to Leavenworth. In addition, Bill had never been to Leavenworth and it so happened that they were having their Autumn Leaf Festival that weekend and the drive would be gorgeous. We went, and it was.

We were directed to a hardware store that was having a going-out-of-business sale so we got a hoe for some eight dollars. It is really a pointy hoe made for weeding, but it worked for mixing concrete.

On the way back from Leavenworth, we bought a sack of cement at Two Rivers. Then, we got back to work. Everything about the springbox looked good except that there is water leakage under, or around, the concrete at the low end by the pipes. The leakage isn't too bad, however; the water level was up to the overflow pipe and water was running out of it. There just wasn't as much volume coming out of the overflow pipe as I would have liked. Next trip up, I planned to inspect this leakage further and decide if I will do anything to try to plug it up more.

We built forms for the lid, I hauled the cement, tools, vibrator, and battery up, and Bill filled buckets with water. When we were almost ready to begin mixing concrete, Earl Landin came up to the spring. We went back down with him and had a nice chat in the trailer. I gave him some material on Skip Ellsworth's log home building class that Ellen had prepared for him and I also gave him a jar of Ellen's blackberry jam. When he left, Bill and I had lunch and then went back up and mixed and poured concrete. I had mis-calculated the amount of aggregate we needed so for the last two batches, I ran down to the trailer and hauled up a load of aggregate for each batch and then mixed the batch. Bill did all the vibrating and troweling and on the last two batches, he also moved the concrete from the mixing box to the form. He said he was comfortable with this amount of work but I was still concerned and amazed with how much he was doing so soon after surgery.

We finished up around six o'clock so there was still enough daylight to make a trip up to the viewpoint above the property. On the drive up there, Bill spotted a young buck mule deer in the road ahead. I also saw him after Bill pointed him out.

After enjoying the view, we went back down and I winterized the trailer properly. A guy at an RV store figured that the problem I had was that the check valve in the water pump had failed. My plan now is sometime when I get time, to install a gate valve in the water line from the tank so that I can positively shut off that line during normal operation and open it only when I am winterizing the trailer.

10/8-9/93 Bill Edson and I went up to the property Friday after my Russian class and spent one night in the trailer. On Friday afternoon, we went up to the spring and found that although the water level was up to the overflow pipe and a small amount of water was flowing through it, the majority of the flow was through leaks in the concrete and the sand at the lower side of the springbox. Even though the springbox would work fine this way, I still decided to seal up the leaks by pouring a concrete slab over the sand and gravel at the lower side of the box. I will try to do this yet this fall if the weather holds out, otherwise I will wait until Spring.

After this inspection, we removed the forms from the springbox lid and rigged a bi-pod crane to lift the lid using two come-alongs. It worked great and the lid came out very nicely.

On Saturday, we removed the clean-out drain cap and let the springbox empty out. We lifted the lid off again and while the springbox was draining, I kept stirring the sand at the bottom with a piece of rebar in an attempt to get all the cloudy stuff to run out the drain pipe. It worked pretty well; at first, the water got so cloudy with the black sediment that you couldn't see an inch under the water. After 5 or 10 minutes of stirring, the water was clear and there was hardly any debris coming up as a result of my stirring.

While the drain cap was off, we painted it with aluminum colored roof goop to disguise the fact that the cap is solid brass. The cap cost $30 and Earl Landin had suggested that we paint it to reduce the temptation for vandals to steal it.

We let the springbox drain for a couple hours while we pulled nails out of old forms, and carried materials and tools back down to the trailer. After that, we replaced the drain cap and the other pipe fittings and sloshed two gallons of bleach all over the inside of the springbox as it began to fill up again. We wanted to empty the gravel seam behind the spring as much as possible so that it would refill slowly to give the bleach the maximum time to work and for it to disinfect as deeply as possible into the gravel. We put the lid back on and when the water level reached the second pipe, we reestablished the siphon in the hose and connected it to the spring. I plan to let the hose run all winter. The lower end of it goes into the creek behind the trailer.

Next week, I plan to go up and take a water sample for a bacteria test.

10/16-17/93 Ellen and I spent Saturday night in the trailer. Sunday morning, we took a water sample from the spring and then went on a hike to Minotaur Lake. I also brought along a 3" dia. 36" rad. underground electrical conduit 90 degree sweep to see if it would work as part of the concrete form for pouring the final slab at the spring. It looked like it would work perfectly to form a channel in the slab to allow for cleaning out the box by opening the lower cleanout cap. It would, however, require some chiseling of the rock in order to get it down low enough.

10/22-23/93 I went up to the property Friday morning after class and spent one night. On Friday, I bought one sack of cement, carried it and 8 loads of aggregate along with the tools and the 3-inch sweep up to the spring site. There was so much water leaking under the concrete that the water level in the springbox didn't reach the overflow pipe. It was above the service pipe, though, so a good flow of water was going through the hose.

I spent the remaining daylight hours on Friday chipping the rocks so that the pipe (sweep) would fit. While I was chipping, Mike Tutino came up to see what all the pounding was about. In talking to him about what I was doing, I decided to cut about 10 inches off the end of the sweep to avoid many more hours of rock chipping. I forgot to bring a saw, so Mike and I walked over to Dick Tutino's place and borrowed a saw and I cut off the end of the pipe.

After it was too dark to work at the spring, I went down and shoveled dirt into the telephone wire trench for about another hour. The dirt was powder dry and the dust really irritated my throat, so much in fact that I had a hard time sleeping that night. Later on I realized that I was catching a cold and sore throat and the dust just irritated it.

Saturday morning, I resumed the rock chipping from 8:00 until 10:00. By then, the pipe fit nicely where it belonged. I took the drain cap off and the big end of the sweep went right over the drain nipple. The entire flow of the spring then ran through the pipe so I could pour the concrete slab all around it. The surface of the slab only comes halfway up the pipe so when it is cured, I will remove the pipe and be left with a nice smooth channel in the slab for the water to run through.

Starting at 10:00, I mixed and poured concrete and troweled it. While I waited for the concrete to set enough to do the final troweling, I had lunch and did some more dirt shoveling into the telephone trench. Since it rained all day and all night, the dirt wasn't as dry and I didn't have as much of a dust problem. The trench is almost filled back up now. After I got home, we got the results of the water test and it has to be redone because of "turbid culture". I will have to look into what I have to do next to deal with this new problem.

10/29-30/93 On Friday, after class, I went up to the property and stayed the night. I removed the pipe from the concrete and the slab looked pretty good. It had plugged the leaks enough so that the water level in the spring box was up to the overflow pipe and water was running out of it even though water was also running out the hose and through a small nozzle. The new water level was now above the level of the concrete slab I had just poured, so there was a small stream of water leaking over the top of the new slab. Since most of the left over cement was still soft in the bag, I decided to mix and pour a concrete dam on top of this new slab to seal up this leak. I carried up one backpack full of aggregate for this purpose and mixed and poured the concrete.

During the two days, I surveyed a number of points throughout the lower area of the property for the purpose of designing the drainfield.

11/2/93 I entered the surveying data into my SURVEY program, ran it, and drew a map of the lower area. Upon review of the instructions for applying for a septic system permit, I discovered that the entire lower area was within 100 feet of the creek and therefore was ineligible for use as a drain field. This meant that another area would have to be found - or we would have to use a composting toilet.

11/5-6/93 On Friday, after class, I went up to the property again and stayed the night. I removed the forms on the concrete dam and it looked pretty good. It stopped the leak, but there was a void where the concrete hadn't quite filled in up to the form, so, since there was still some soft cement in the left over bag, I mixed a small amount of concrete and patched this void. I decided this was the last of the concrete work at the spring, so I brought all the tools, buckets, scrap, mixing box, etc. back down and cleaned up the site.

During the two days, I surveyed an area up above just below the privy to see if it would make a suitable drainfield area. It is nearly at the same elevation as the building site so I needed a fairly accurate survey with elevations to see if it would work.

The propane tanks were empty, so I took them home to fill them.

11/8/93 Talked to Keith Tower of the Chelan County Health department about using the lower site as a drainfield. He said absolutely not. He also said that I wouldn't have to pay another Site Evaluation fee to have him look at another potential drainfield site. He said to have Wayne Rayfield of Swiftwater Construction contact him so they could make a joint visit to the property to dig another test hole. I asked Keith if he could take a sample of my spring water at the same time and test it. He said he would do that if he had my Private Water System Review Application (and the $50 fee) ahead of time.

11/10/93 Ellen sent in the Private Water System Review Application. I wanted to make sure that this request would be on file early enough so that when Keith Tower came out with Wayne Rayfield to dig and test a new perk hole he could also look at the springbox and take a water sample. I called Wayne and told him what I had in mind. He said to let him know when I had the roadway cleared enough to get a tractor up above to the building site and beyond and then he would schedule a time with Keith Tower.

11/11-12/93 There was no class on Veteran's Day, and Professor Gross had canceled our class for Friday, so Bob Burton and I went up to the property early Thursday morning and spent Thursday and Friday working (and playing).

On Thursday, we surveyed a few more points up near the saddle between the building site and the privy in order to complete the data I had gotten the week before. The major work we did was to clear the roadway so that a tractor could get up it. We pulled a couple of big rocks out of the roadway and cut a bunch of small trees and brush out of the way. I called Wayne Rayfield while we were up there and arranged for him to come up Friday afternoon.

Friday morning, since we were pretty much done and just needed to wait for Wayne, we went over and visited Dick Tutino, and then climbed a ways up Dirtyface Mountain just above the spring site. We got some pretty good views and came across a lot of animal tracks and game trails. After lunch, we cleared brush along the northern property line so we will be able to walk along it. This was the first time I really knew exactly where that boundary is. Wayne came at about 3:30 and we talked about how to get the tractor up the hill. We also discussed the possibility of using an area right near where the driveway enters the property as a drainfield. That would be my first choice if it will work, and he agreed that would be the first place he would dig a test hole if Keith agrees. If that works, we won't have to get the tractor up on top at all, and the site would be perfect for a gravity system. Wayne agreed to contact Keith, schedule a visit to the property, and let me know as soon as he does. I will probably have to skip a Russian class or two to meet with them.

11/21-22/93 I went up to the property Sunday morning just ahead of a snowstorm that hit Seattle and environs. I spent Sunday afternoon clearing a roadway for Wayne Rayfield's tractor so he could get it up above the building site. I also improved some of the trails and scouted out fallen logs that might be salvageable.

On Monday, Keith Tower and Wayne Rayfield came up to the property and dug two test holes. The upper one, just West of the building site, was unsuitable because of lack of depth of soil down to glacial till. The lower one, adjacent to the driveway entrance, looked OK but Keith will come back in the spring of '94 to check out a standpipe that was left in the hole. Keith said he would give us a variance to allow us to use that spot even though it is about 75 feet from a creek in the ditch on the other side of the White River road. Keith also took a sample of spring water with him and will have it tested.

11/23/93 Called Brian Helseth, of the Lake Wenatchee Ranger Station, and reminded him to send a letter stating USFS intent for future use of the land within 100 feet of the spring. He said he would send the letter to me and also to Keith Tower. He also said that that area was part of a spotted owl habitat.

12/3-4/93 I went up to the property alone Friday, after class and spent one night. There was about six to eight inches of snow on the ground when I got there but it rained most of the time, so by the time I left, there was only about 4 inches. I worked on trying to salvage fallen logs, but abandoned the effort for two reasons: it's too hard, and the wood is probably no good.

I struggled with one log with a 20 inch diameter butt and that was about 100 feet long, and after working about 4 hours, I got nowhere. I could roll it a few inches, but I couldn't drag it even an inch. From this I estimated that with the equipment I have available to me, it would take several days for me to get a log of this size moved to the building site. By comparison, last week I talked to a guy who had 50 10 inch diameter straight peeled logs for sale for $3500. That's $70 a log and they were peeled! It isn't worth it to me to spend three or four days on a log.

The reason that I don't think the wood would be any good is that I got a chance to see inside one. There was a big log that had fallen across a big rock at the high point of the property. The log was sticking out over the rock about 30 or 40 feet and was about a foot in diameter where it was resting on the rock. Last week, the log broke at that point, probably due to the snow load, and I could see that the wood inside was laced with fungus. The bark was still tight on the outside of the log, but the inside was rotten. From this, I concluded that I don't want to trust any fallen logs that have been lying on the ground.

I spent about three hours during the two days excavating the building site. I dug out rocks and put the rocks in one pile and the dirt in another pile. I was pleased with what I found - good rocks and it looks like I can go pretty deep. As long as the weather permits, that is what I will do at the property for the remainder of the winter.

The heater in the trailer went out in the middle of the night and I assumed that I had run out of propane. In the morning I discovered that I still had plenty of propane and I started the heater up again. There must have been a gust of wind or some other reason it quit. When I left, I tested the tanks and they were at about the one quarter full level.

12/15-16/93 There was no Russian class because of Christmas break, so I went up to the property on Wednesday and Thursday. I spent the two days excavating the site--separating the rocks from the dirt. I was pleased with the progress. I brought the wheelbarrow up to see if it would work in the snow and it worked just fine. I just had to make a trail wide enough to accommodate the legs of the wheelbarrow. With the wheelbarrow, I just handle the dirt once; I shovel it directly into the wheelbarrow as I dig it up, and then wheel and dump the dirt down on the roadway where I need a considerable amount of fill.

I called Brian Helseth while I was there and he assured me that the letter has been drafted and he intends to get it out soon. He also said he had talked to Keith Tower about the matter.

This trip was the first time I didn't bring and use drinking water from home; I used only the untreated water from the spring. We got the test results back from Chelan County and they said that there were no dangerous bacteria in the water. The question about giardia is still open, but I am convinced enough that there is none in the water that I am going to use the untreated water from now on and see if I get sick. So far, I feel fine.

The propane tanks were down to about an eighth so I brought them back to fill them.

12/22-23/93 Spent two days at the property excavating dirt and rocks. Made good progress. I got my water from the hose which was always running to keep it from freezing. It was squirting through a nozzle against a rock and the spray was freezing on the trees and bushes making beautiful ice formations all around it.

12/28-30/93 Spent three days at the property and when I got there discovered that the hose had frozen and the water wasn't running. I guess there wasn't enough flow through it (I had previously measured it at two gallons per minute) to keep it from freezing. There was no option now but to leave it until Spring to thaw out and to go up to the spring to get my water in jugs.

I brought the chain saw with the intention of cutting some planks out of a fallen maple log for later use in making doors. Unfortunately I forgot to bring the chainsaw gas so I abandoned that effort. I also decided to postpone the effort until there is less snow and to use my time excavating the site. I made great progress in excavation during the three days.

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