“It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance.”
– Washington Irving, ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’
Our job entails two activities. Those with loppers are cutting the branches off the fallen trees and clearing the surrounding brush. Those without loppers are gathering the debris and either throwing it into the forest as compost or using it to soften the larger hollows. It’s hard work but the forest is spectacular, the other volunteers are great people and the sun is shining. It rained on everyone here for the past two days so they are particularly thankful for the sunny day (you’re welcome)
After two hours, six of us have cleared a section about sixty meters long and four wide. It looks darned good. To my untrained eyes, the stumps and logs look like they’d be hazards to skiers…on the other hand, twelve feet of snow ought to cover it pretty well.
Time for lunch. We grab our packs and head down the trail on foot…back to the Quonset hut. What a great hike. Why wait for snow, this place is awesome right now.
(i swear to gawd, i did not pose for this pic)
Hey, I wonder what Wendle has been up to?
I find her sitting at a picnic table with Renee, Kellei and a fellow named Patrick. They have been using a log splitter to cut and stack firewood. That sounds like fun. Wendy confirms that it is.
Over lunch, Kellei fills Wendy and I in on an upcoming Advanced Wilderness First Aid course she will be running next week. We have been wanting to complete this course and hers sounds good. We are very interested.
When lunch is over Renee and I switch jobs. Patrick is running the log splitter and he needs a fresh back to assist him. Right fricking on!
It’s very cool. We’re using a portable log splitter like this one
The tree we are splitting is huge. It lies all around us in 3′ X 2′ slabs. My job is to help Patrick manhandle those slabs of tree trunk under the cutter. As they are diced smaller and smaller, I hand the firewood to Wendy who gives it to Kellei for stacking. The splitter works beautifully and it’s powerful head cuts through the thick wood quietly and easily. Working around something this powerful demands total focus and time ceases to exist.
Before we know it, we have sliced up every piece of the massive tree. Another awaits but it’s even bigger and will first need to be chainsawed into manageable chunks. The firewood pile is about five foot high and loops around the back of the entire building. Our job here is completed, at least for now. Patrick closes up the splitter and prepares to split himself…to a birthday party. Before he leaves, he takes us to over to what in Winter will become the park’s entrance. He shows Wendy and I the pole where the money box is kept. It’s a thick metal pipe, about 15′ high with a ledge welded on every 5’…this is done to ensure at least one ledge can remain above the snow line. (whoa)
Wendy and I head back up the trail to assist with the brush clearing. The hike is enhanced by having to trek over the newly fallen trees and across the brush covered hollows.
Wow…they have been busy up here. At least another sixty meters has been cleared.
Wendle and I each grab a pair of loppers and get to work.
This is a good crew Brian, Renee, Laurie and Dave…or is it Chris (oops), Wendy and I. We’re the only volunteers remaining up on this trail. It’s a lot of fun…although I do notice that my back has begun to stiffen up. I’ll let it tell me when it’s time to quit for the day
Around three thirty, one by one, we start to put down our tools. Our day is done. We gather up the loppers and our packs and start our hike back out. A good days work.
We’ve cleared about one hundred and sixty meters of bush today…I wonder how much is left to do? Hmm…let’s see…the RidgeWalker Trail is 2,713m long, we’ve cleared 160m today, that leaves…
…twenty-five hundred more to go (geez, i hope someone was working from the other end)
As we reach the trail juncture, Michel drives up on a quad 4X4 to tell us that it’s time to finish. We’re way ahead of you big guy. We hike back down to Dakota Ridge HQ (the Quonset), stow the gear and say our goodbyes. Wendy and I make solid plans with Kellei to register for the first aid course. It feels right. Then, it’s back to the Jeep for a welcome ‘ride’ back down the mountain.
We make a quick pit stop at the IGA…and bump into Brian, Renee and the kids, who are also picking up dinner. I stumble upon this weird looking thing in the vegetable section. Now I’m no expert but that kinda looks like Brussels sprouts (yeah, from outer space). Is that how they grow? Suddenly there is a crowd around me. Others join me…to stare in awe at this exotic looking form (pod people). One woman leans in and says, “Yeah, Brussels Sprouts. I’ve seen them before. Pretty weird eh?”
What manner of system have we bought into, when the food we eat, is alien to us?
Food in hand, we go home to eat and tidy. It has to be an early night tonight because we are spending tomorrow with Zohan and Teddy. (they’re baaacck)
Moose and Wendle
Maybe there is a better way