Construction Journal Entry Week of 12/31/06

1/2-4/07 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

As soon as I got on the road, I heard on the radio that the pass was closed in both directions because of an avalanche. I decided to take the risk and continue on anyway because those types of reports are usually wrong. It was raining cats and dogs all the way and the road was bare and wet all the way to the pass. I could see where Old Faithful had avalanched earlier in the day, but it was all clear by the time I got there.

There was some slush on the road on the other side. Then when I turned on to 207 it was worse with ice and slush. Then the Lake Wenatchee highway was worse yet with deep rutted ice with slush on top and rain on top of that. Finally when I got to the White River Road, it hadn't been plowed at all so it was deep wet snow with one set of ruts through it. A guy flagged me down at the school bus turnaround and told me that there was a big bus heading toward us and maybe I should wait.

I took that opportunity to put on my full rain gear because it was still raining cats and dogs and I would have to put it on later anyway to move in. Then the guy told me that the bus hadn't left Tall Timber yet, so I had plenty of time to get parked even if I had to do some shoveling.

I arrived at 12:30 and got parked without any shoveling. There was about 5 inches of new wet snow on the driveway, but it had evidently been plowed the week before.

The rain was freezing on everything it hit so the trees were all coated with a quarter of an inch of ice and there was a half-inch crust of ice on top of the snow. I made the trails by post holing with just my boots because the snowshoes would have just carried me on top of the crust and I would have had to post hole later anyway. The sheets of broken crust packed the trails down just about as good as snowshoes do anyway.

When I got up to the building I saw that the cougar had walked up past the cabin again leaving tracks in the snow on the same trail as usual. It had to have passed through that morning or during the night.

I moved my gear into the trailer and I measured the snow depth at 35 inches on the ground. There was quite a load of new snow on top of the privy and the mixer so I got the ladder out and shoveled both of them off. It was pretty noisy during the work because the ice was continually falling from high in the trees and crashed on the ice crust on the snow below. I could also hear the occasional tree cracking or falling in the woods. I was pretty careful not to get under any of the big trees.

I was just getting rigged up to do some sawing at 4:30 when the power went out. I called the PUD and learned that it was supposed to go back on at 7:00. It was too dark to work without lights so I went in for the night. I got the propane torch and got the propane furnace working. The pilot light doesn't stay lit so the furnace burns only for a few minutes before it goes out. So I used the propane torch to heat up the thermocouple every few minutes to keep the furnace going. Quite often I would misjudge and the furnace would shut off. Then I had to go through the steps of lighting the pilot and getting the fire going again.

By 6:00 I got it up to about 54 degrees in there and I decided to let the furnace go out and nap until 7:00. At 7:08 I woke up and the power was still off. I called the PUD again and learned that the new estimate for restoration was 9:30. I decided to have my dinner without power. I had some seafood salad with me so I ate that and I boiled water on the stove and had a cup-o-noodles with the salad. I got the furnace going again and got the temperature up into the 60's before I went to bed. I called the PUD again and heard that the power wouldn't be restored until morning. The power actually came back on at 10:40 in the evening.

On Wednesday the temperature hovered right around freezing and there were intermittent sun breaks. When the sun would come out and warm up the trees, huge quantities of ice would come crashing down all over the forest. Then when the clouds would cover the sun, it would get relatively quiet. It was beautiful when the sun was shining to see all the glistening ice covering the trees. I took quite a few pictures hoping to capture some of the beauty.

I worked on building the temporary plank steps and by the end of the day I had finished building them all. It was a good feeling to finally be able to walk up steps to get up to the porch.

On Thursday morning, I secured the post at the top of the stairs and fashioned two handrails from the 3/4 inch rope that forms the temporary porch rails. I am now ready for the scouts if they decide to come up again this winter. I left for home at 1:30.

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