We heat our home with wood all winter, but this year we're late to gather for the season. We should have been doing this when the burn ban lifted back in September and you could first run a chainsaw again to gather and buck deadfall (in firewood terms, bucking means to saw the fallen trees into rounds). Nevertheless, here we now - late October, in a fresh dusting of snow, with more sloppy Cascade slush falling from the skies. For the past few years a friend of ours has helped clear a plot of land outside Roslyn in an effort to Fire-Wise the area. Fire precaution measures like removing deadfall, falling slag (aka standing dead trees), and clearing brush can make a huge difference if the area is ever under a burn.
Today, we're here to help our friend and also gathering as much wood as possible to heat our wood burning home all winter. We pound coffee at the house and then drive over to meet at the Hyak parking lot at 7am. A half hour on the highway and 20 minutes on dirt roads, and we've arrived at the property. It's 2 acres and sits on top of a mellow rolling hill. The owner has installed a simple container home that he uses as a getaway from the city life. We take a quick walk with Bill (the owner) and he shows us sections of the property that he'd like cleaned up. We fire up the chainsaws and get to work!
In total, there are 5 us helping. Lucky for us, someone was smart enough to rent a splitter and we've got a whole assembly line going - two guys on the saws cutting rounds with the two ladies and Tom getting after it on the splitter. You can tell that everyone is really getting into it, trying to be as efficient as possible. As the wood piles up so does our energy. We're in the zone, and everyone is cracking jokes, chucking firewood from the drop zone by spitter to piles that we'll come back to stack into the trucks.
It’s really striking me just how awesome of a team building exercise this is! Everyone has their job and is crushing it! Greg, teaches me how to fall a tree with the chainsaw. I'm stoked, but my arms are starting to get sore from 3 hours on the saw.
Tom and I switch up jobs and I run the splitter as he takes a turn on the saw. The ladies have taken a load back home with one of the trucks, and have promised to return with pizza. It's been two hours now since they left - I hope they can find their way through the labyrinth of dirt roads to get back here!
The pizza arrives, and we've only got a few more rounds to split before loading everything into the trucks and our single trailer (a huge help on firewood day if you have one!). They brought beer! Yes! When you're moving all day, food tastes especially delicious and this may have been the best pizza and beer I've ever had.
An hour and half later and we've got everything loaded. We cruise back home and before splitting ways everyone makes a plan to get after it again tomorrow. I'm gonna be sore come Monday!
With more chainsaws and more trucks to fill, our pace in the morning feels blistering. Just like the day before, everyone is into it, and with conversation ranging from optimal wood stove techniques to ski quiver choices, the day flies by. I make it home with another full load of wood, and Kirsten has already stacked almost all the wood from yesterday!
Come Sunday night I'm ready for bed, and as I dose off I can't help but think how much fun it is to work hard with your friends. Soon we'll all be shredding pow, and each warm fire we come back to will be a reminder of this weekend in Fall - the frenzied pace, the laughs, the pizza and beer, and the friends new and old!
Pictures and words by @garretvs