Day 3; The work begins
After arriving at Base Camp, I spent a cozy night listening to the condensation drip off the tree above and onto my tent. Time to gather and be ready to set out for the day was set at 8:00 AM. At 7:00AM my alarm goes off and I hit snooze a few times. (It was cold out)
Excitement was high as I unzipped my tent and peered out into the world. To be greeted by amazing views of Glacier Peak (with some clouds) and of the other volunteers waking and warming up as we made our way to the gathering point.
Claire and KJ had us gather in a circle in the meadow below the hill and play a game. Something along the lines of “If you could go anywhere and spend the day doing whatever you wanted, where would you go?”
The answers were interesting and it was intriguing learning just how well traveled members of the group were.
When it came time to divvy up assignments for the day we were split up into two different crews to have volunteers switch between them. Sawyering (using saws and other tools to clear larger logs from the trail) and brushout (using hand tools to clear brush from the trail 2′ back from the sides). I chose logout for the first day with brushout the next and prepared f0r the trek.
We began the trek down into the valley. and just like that the teams were split up with brushout beginning as soon as the brush began encroaching on the trail and myself with logout continuing on. It started steep and continued to be so with brief passages of leveling out along the way. The views were gorgeous though and going downhill was pretty easy even though you had to be careful at spots with the mud.
As we went further down, the terrain went from rocky and shrubby to being more of a forest. Then we found our first log…ok, well more of a sapling but clearing it required us to stop and take turns on the crosscut saw to saw through both sides before flipping it off the side and into the brush on the lower side of the trail.
I ate my breakfast bar as we headed down into the forest. Wasn’t even done with it as we found our second task of the day. This time it was a much larger log that was angled from high up the hill above.
KJ used this as an opportunity to explain safety and how to approach removal of this obstacle. I really enjoyed looking at it as a physics puzzle; where should it be cut to make it fall neatly downward? Are there and hazards in the area to be aware of or potentially remove? What are potential complications? Etcetera.
We started by using the axes and hand saws to remove branches and potential snags; wouldn’t want to get hung up on the log when it comes sliding down!
Then the task was to cut the bark and remove it around where the cuts would be made. And finally to cut the log in half just above the trail. With any luck, the log would dislodge and slide down and out of the way. (with some coaxing expected)
As the log began to flex from the cut, orange wedges were used to brace the sides and allow space for the saw to continue cutting. As the saw closed on the last few inches of log, the big crosscut saw was exchanged for the katana and we listened for the log to “speak” as the fibers broke and it began to drop. (A good indicator to stand further back and watch closely; your exit route should already be planned before you begin)
This one was actually a little scary, as once the lower part of the log went, the upper part followed suit and slid down the hill. (With some assistance) We knew it was possible for it to dislodge like that and were ready for it, but it wasn’t really expected with no warning signs until it was happening. A good example of why a “Safety first” mindset is necessary. Especially since the upper portion still had branches that could have snagged someone on the way down if they were unwary.
We hiked down the hill and cleared some small debris before taking lunch by a creek and resting for a little bit. I snacked, lay on my back and took a quick nap in the sun. It was really pleasant.
After lunch we packed up again and set off!
It wasn’t long before we found another log; this one looking like the biggest yet and it was more horizontal rather than vertical which made for simpler cutting, but more intensive steps to roll it off the trail after. (Butt-kicking)
It went rather smoothly and we were off and down the hill to a further area. (There wasn’t another downed log across the trail for a bit)
The opportunity to just hike our gear forward was welcome and there were some cool sights! Like the really cool bridge/waterfall in the video.
It was getting pretty late though. So, after stashing away our tools on the side of the trail, we started the long trek back up to base camp.
I took some photos of neat fungus along the way and even scored some “Hen of the Woods” (Not pictured) to spruce up my cous cous with extra protein! (I always carry a container of cooking oil when backpacking for just such an occurrence)
After a long day, it was easy to fall asleep.