Construction Journal Entry Week of 4/7/13

4/9-11/13 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I had a pretty bad cold so I skipped visiting Charles and arrived at Camp Serendipity at 12:10. The snow was almost completely gone so it was the first time this spring that I didn't change my shoes to Sorel boots before taking my stuff to the cabin. Bert and Ernie were right there to greet me and they followed me up to the cabin for their usual hugs and biscuits.

After lunch and a nap, I got my chainsaw out and went down to work on bucking up the big ponderosa log. I needed to clear the driveway this week so that I can take delivery of the flooring next week and haul it all the way up to the cabin. I took a picture of one round being cut off.

The weather was beautiful, cool, and dry. I finished bucking up a six-foot gap in the log and rolled the rounds up the driveway and stashed all but one of them in the woods to the south of the driveway. I'll split them there and load the pieces into the truck to haul them up to the cabin later.

My original plan had been to roll the rounds up past the parking area and store them between the parking area and the compost pile. I did that for the first round, but it was so heavy and such hard work that I gave up on that idea.

Before I went in for the night, I climbed down the cliff and found the rebar S-hook from my scaffold that had fallen over the cliff. There was no way I could have found it in the snow, but now that it was melted away, I was able to find it. It wasn't all that easy because it had fallen into the brush halfway down the cliff and it took me a while to see it.

On Wednesday when I got up it was raining cats and dogs. The forecast had indicated that it would probably rain all day so I bit the bullet, put on my full rain suit, got my chainsaw back out and went down to buck some more of the log in the rain. I finished bucking the 12-foot section in the center of the driveway and one more round off the section of the log to the south of that. I figured that was a wide enough gap in order to drive the truck through.

While I was in having my lunch, it stopped raining and the sun came out. I wasn't sure what to expect for the rest of the day. I toyed with the idea of skipping my nap and taking advantage of the dry weather, but I went up and took a nap anyway. I was awakened by the sound of the rain that had started back up.

Back on with the full rain suit and back down to the driveway, I resumed bucking up the log in the rain again. After a short while, it stopped raining for the rest of the day. I left my rain pants on but I took off my raincoat.

I finished bucking up the 12-foot log section that was in the middle of the road and I cut one round off the section to the south. That will be enough to allow me to get the truck through. I rolled most of the rounds out of the way and then decided to clear the roadway starting at the top and working my way down.

I started by limbing and bucking up the widowmaker on the upper roadway that I had seen fall from the cabin window during the ice storm last winter. It was a lot bigger than I had previously realized. It was seven inches in diameter where it fell on my trail and it would have been deadly if it had hit me. I took a picture of it before I started working on it.

A week earlier, at home, I had made a device for picking up pieces of firewood and tossing them into a wheelbarrow. I had bucked up a lot of tree trunks and big branches during the winter as the snow melted back and the roadway was strewn with those pieces from top to bottom. Reaching down to pick these up off the ground would be very hard on my back so I figured out a way to pick them up without stooping over.

I took a couple of 1x2s about 4 feet long and fastened them together at the center with a single 1/4" bolt. That made a sort of scissors. Then I drove three 16d nails edgewise into the bottom of each 1x2 after drilling tight holes so the wood wouldn't split. The nails stick out of the 1x2s an inch or two and form teeth opposing each other. With the other ends of the 1x2s serving as handles, I can open the device, place the teeth on opposite sides of a piece of firewood on the ground, close the thing, and then lift the piece of wood up and unload it into a wheelbarrow.

I was eager to try it out and when I did, I was pleasantly surprised that it worked like a charm. It worked on the smallest pieces and it also worked on rounds that weighed as much as 20 or 30 lbs. I used it all the rest of the day without it slipping or dropping a single piece of wood. I kept my back straight the entire time.

There were a lot of fallen branches on the upper roadway above the hairpin turn and I used my picker-upper device to throw them all over the side of the rock retaining wall.

Just below the hairpin turn was a medium sized Doug fir that had fallen across the roadway. The log was about the right size to serve as a new replacement gate log and I had decided to do that. I paced off the driveway opening to see how long the gate log needed to be and then I paced off the Doug fir log and cut it to length. Then I limbed the tree and skidded the log over to the side of the roadway so it wasn't blocking. I'll use it to rebuild the gate later on.

I dragged all the slash from limbing that log over to the compost pile and finished cleaning up all the debris from the roadway down to the parking area.

Just before I was ready to quit for the day, I got a call from Earl who told me that he had just gotten back. The battery on my phone was about dead so we didn't talk long. It was good to hear from him.

I was very tired and sore from the work and I was still sick from my cold so I soaked in a hot bath for a long while after I went in for the night. After soaking, I stood up to shower and I pulled a dead tick off my butt. I don't know whether I drowned him by soaking so long or whether the water was hot enough to kill him. Anyway I was glad he was off me. This is the time of year when I really need to check for ticks if I am working outside.

On Thursday morning, I was greeted by a single Canadian Jay who took just one peanut from my hand and flew away. That was the last I saw of him. At least it was good to see him.

Next I went to work clearing the lower roadway. There had been three or four good size trees that had fallen onto the roadway and at various times during the winter I had bucked and limbed the trees as they became exposed from the snow. I had pushed some of it out of the way to make a trail through it so that I could walk up the roadway, but there was still a big jumble of branches and firewood in a couple big piles.

I alternated between picking up firewood and branches. I used my 1x2 picker-upper to pick up and load the firewood into the wheelbarrow. Then I wheeled the wood up to the east of the parking area and dumped it into a pile.

I used a long-handled loppers to pick up the branches. By not closing the jaws too tightly, I could grip a branch and lift it up and into the wheelbarrow. Then I would squeeze the loppers to cut the branch in half. That was the easiest way to let go of the branch and it also made them fit into the wheelbarrow better. When I got a wheelbarrow full of cut-up branches, I wheeled it to the compost pile and used a garden pitchfork to throw the branches from the wheelbarrow up onto the compost pile. It worked very efficiently without requiring me to stoop over hardly at all.

Once though, I tripped on a branch that had been embedded in the ground and fell over on my back. That was another wake-up call. Now that I am almost 73 I have to stop falling.

The branch was about 2 inches in diameter and about 3 feet long. When the tree it had been part of fell, it drove this branch 23 inches into the ground straight down. I had to use a long 2x4 and a tire chain to lever it and pull it up out of the ground. About a foot of it had been sticking up out of the ground. I knew it was there but at one point I stepped back and hit it. In trying to regain my balance, I stumbled against the wheelbarrow and then fell over on my butt and back. Fortunately the area where I fell had been cleared of debris so it was flat and fairly soft. I didn't hurt myself.

I finished clearing up that section of the lower roadway and moved on to the site of the big ponderosa log. I was very tired at this point and decided that I could finish clearing that area next week when I brought the flooring up. I went in, took some cold medicine to help keep my ears from plugging up on the trip down the other side of the pass, had my lunch, and left for home at 1:00. I squirted nasal spray up my nose a couple times before I got to the top of the pass. It sort of worked, but my ears still got plugged up. I stopped on the way down the mountain several times trying to clear my ears. I kept my left ear clear but the right one plugged up and didn't clear for a few hours after I got home. I really don't like doing that.

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