Estivant Pines

This morning we got up early, did chores, and headed up to Copper Harbor for a day of work in the Estivant Pines. It is lucky we forgot something and had to come back home, because Alice noticed we had not opened the greenhouse. We would have had cooked vegetables if it would have stayed closed today.

Our goal was to hike and GPS all the trails, including a reroute we are working on, and then make a map we can send to the Michigan Nature Association headquarters downstate, which they can use in a new brochure they are printing for us. We also brought the tools along to repair a reported case of vandalism in the sanctuary. We brought our trusty wheelbarrow along too, and hauled some treads up to a boardwalk that is currently under construction. On our way up there, we got a report from one of the visitors that a large tree was down across the trail on the Cathedral Loop. I had the chainsaw in the truck, but didn’t bring it along for this first hike on the trails. We decided to complete hiking and GPSing all the trails so we could see this supposed “big tree” across the trail.

pinesalice.jpgAs you can see in this picture, it was a BIG tree across the trail. The place it fell made it impossible to walk around to, so people had to climb over it. Once we saw it, we hiked back to the parking lot, gassed and sharpened the chainsaw, and hiked back to the downed tree by way of the reroute. We did some much needed chainsaw work on the way to the big tree.

pines.jpgTackling a big tree like this one has its challenges. When it is cut through, it can pinch the saw and make it impossible to remove. Rock and dirt can be hit at the bottom of the cut dulling the blade. My saw has a 20″ blade, making it a pretty formidable tool. Yet I was unable to cut through this log on one swipe. I estimate it was about 30″ in diameter where I cut it. I was also taught in the Forest Service chainsaw school to cut it in a wedge shape with the wide part of the wedge pointing in the downhill direction. If you make the mistake of cutting a big tree like this one square, it will surely jam when you try to remove the cookie.

pines2.jpgEven doing everything as close to correctly as I knew how, the first section I cut out remained stubbornly stuck, so I had to find a stout pole to use as a pry bar to get it removed. After that, I cut one more section out to make the trail once more clear of its big daddy obstruction.

We hiked back to the parking lot all pretty hot and tired. I’m not a huge fan of air conditioning, but we cranked it up full blast for the first part of the trip home, and it was fun to watch Franco stick his nose right into the dashboard vent and smile at the cool air.

Once home we had our dock sit, some supper, and I did my 2 mile backpack walk even though I could have rationalized my way out of it for today. I’m no stranger to my mind trying to convince me that I really don’t need the workout today, so I shouldered the pack and Franco and I did our miles. I expected him to be at least a little tired, but never underestimate the spunk of a 2 year old German Shepherd.

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