Solo Clearing Days

  • July 23, 2019
  • Posted by Clint Kingery

Solo clearing days have always been my favorite, perhaps just for the variety. Pulling the saw is near impossible to beat, and I really like tread and laying a good, solid rock. Even brushing has more than a few good moments, but I enjoy being able to push myself freely and know that the crew will be fine and doing well without me and my helicoptering. I like not to worry if I am pushing my partner too hard or not enough or having those thoughts about myself. And I like that I can hold a train of thought through to the end without interruption. I was able to work through some realizations at afternoon break that wouldn’t have had time to form if someone had been near me. I was taking my rest at the sparkling water and soft moss of a small shaded waterfall and luxuriating in the cool, moist air’s contrast to the day’s dry heat. Standing guard was a tall long-dead cedar, likely eight feet in diameter at the base. The life around it was verdant, but devoid of young cedars. A multitude of Douglas firs and some grand firs, a lonely Ponderosa pine, Hawthorne, Huckleberry, Thimbleberry and many more bushy plants that I hope to learn the names of. The tall cedar though, stood foremost. Twice again as tall as the next tree around, arrow-straight and not a limb left. Its thrust seemed to be lost in the clouds above. Jack’s beanstalk would have looked like a weed. I felt some melancholy at the thought that a new cedar would likely never again tower in that spot. Climate change is quickly reducing the good growth years available to these lower elevation trees, forcing them up the hillsides and up further north. Each successive generation will have a more difficult time growing old and tall, and how old must this one be? Will counted the rings on a three foot cedar this past spring. I don’t recall the exact number but I think it was over 300 years old- this one more than twice that width again. No one will likely know the age of this tree after it falls. I haven’t seen any saws in the region that could clear an eight footer. When this tree’s watch is up and it lies in the trail, it will be blasted. And the blasters that I have met aren’t much for counting. I turned my head and found some ripe Huckleberries. Their tang and sweet taste was quick to abolish my melancholy before I returned to my axe and saw.


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