Construction Journal Entry Week of 12/31/17

1/2-4/18 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at the driveway at about 12:30. The road had been plowed but I could see that the driveway hadn't been scooped out since last week. There had evidently been several inches of snow since then and the snowplow had thrown up a considerable berm across the entrance.

I didn't get out and check the snow but instead lined the truck up for a run directly across the berm. I almost got across but instead I got high-centered with my back wheels on the edge of the road and the box blocking one lane of the road.

I tried rocking a few times, but it was hopeless. Just about then, Byron and Barb pulled up and stopped. I got my boots on and got out to dig myself out. Byron also had a shovel and he helped me. The snow had a thick icy crust and was very heavy. There was a lot of snow packed under the truck.

But after quite a bit of digging, I was able to break loose and drive the truck all the way to the hairpin turn. Byron followed me up. After I parked, we both walked back down to Barb and visited for a while. Then I returned to my truck to unload my gear.

After testing the snow, I decided it would be too hard to posthole up the trail, so I put on my snowshoes and made a snowshoe trail up to the cabin without carrying any gear. Then I continued on and made a trail to the flagpole and I went deep into the woods to the sequoia grove where I planned to harvest firewood from the log I had bucked up.

Then I snowshoed back down to the truck, removed my snowshoes, and carried my gear up to the cabin. I was sinking in pretty deep in spite of the two-pass snowshoe trail, but I got up OK.

I hoisted the flag, built a fire in the wood stove, and had my lunch. I was so eager to try my firewood-rolling contraption that I skipped my usual nap. I took the device, a hammer, and my scoop shovel into the woods to try it out. I also brought the camera and tripod to take videos of the momentous occasion. It was a struggle.

I didn't have any trouble digging out the first round, but I discovered that it was about 2 inches too long to work in my device. So, I proceeded to posthole on to the next round and dug it out. It was the perfect size for the device, so I drove the nails in to form the axle and tried to pull the round out. It didn't work very well. I had to reposition one of the nails to get it more centered, and I had to chip off ice and snow, and bash off some small branches, all of which kept the thing from rolling properly. But even if it had rolled perfectly, it was unstable and would capsize and turn on its side as I was pulling. I finally gave up on the thing.

I took the big rope out of the device and used it by itself to skid the round out of the woods without the device. It worked pretty well. I skidded two rounds down to the cabin and brought my camera equipment and the rest of the tools back.

On Wednesday, the weather was still clear and about 25 so I decided to spend the day skidding firewood out of the woods since I already had a skid trail made. I used a shorter, but stouter rope, for the bridle which worked a lot better. I had to make a special trip back to the cabin to get the splitting maul to break the rounds loose. They were frozen to the ground too tightly for me to break them loose by hand. I skidded four more rounds back to the cabin and took a rest and water break.

I went back out and skidded two more rounds out and then split three of them up and stacked the firewood. I had real trouble making the first split. I would hit the round as hard as I could with the maul and it would just bounce back out. Normally, I could at least get it to stick in a ways and then I drive it the rest of the way with a 10 lb. sledge hammer.

I got the idea that if I sawed a kerf at the edge of the round, I could use that to start the maul, so I could hammer it in. I made one kerf with a big crosscut saw, but then bit the bullet and got the chainsaw out to cut kerfs in all the rounds I had hauled so far. The kerfs helped, but I found that driving an axe head in first worked the best. Once the rounds were split once, I had no trouble splitting the rest of it up with the maul.

After lunch and a nap, I went out and skidded four more rounds out of the woods. In the process I watched two sunsets and a sunrise. This time of year, the sun sets behind a peak on Nason Ridge, and then about 20 minutes later, it rises again on the other side of the peak only to set again further on. I have seen it before, but I have to be out on the right day and the weather needs to be clear. It all happened this week.

On Thursday morning Dave called and we had another great conversation. He asked me how heavy I thought the firewood rounds were and I guessed at about a hundred pounds. But it got my curiosity up. So, after skidding another round out of the woods, I used my home-made scale and weighed it. It weighed exactly 100 lb. plus or minus the error in my scale.

I skidded two more rounds down for a total of sixteen. That's half of the supply of bucked up rounds and it is more than enough for this winter. I went into the cabin and waxed my snow scoop using a propane torch and a block of paraffin. After having my lunch, and packing up my gear, I left for home at about 1:00 happy about having all the firewood I need.

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