Construction Journal Entry Week of 10/6/19

10/11-13/19 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Friday through Sunday.

After a gorgeous drive through and over the mountains, I stopped and had a nice long visit with Earl and Patty. I felt a little bad about waking Earl up from his nap, but he reassured me that the visit was more important and that he could easily go back to sleep.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:20. I carried my gear up to the cabin in one trip and hoisted the flag. The 2x6s, newel posts, and tread that I had varnished last week were nice and dry and beautifully shiny. They were in the way now, however, so I took the 2x6s out to the front porch and I stood the newel posts up in the Grid E3 corner of the room to get them out of the way.

In the process, I took down the tether cord that had stabilized the newel posts, and I moved one of the sawhorses out of the way. Then I built a fire in the wood stove whereupon I made my first mistake. I forgot to check and remove the plastic tub I had sitting on the stove-top which was there to prove that the chimney no longer leaked. I noticed it when it started melting and running down over the stove top.

I cleaned it up as best as I could, as the stove kept getting hotter, using big wood chips which I have in abundance. After scraping as much melted plastic off as I could, it pretty much quit smoking and I left any further cleaning for later when the stove was cool. I was surprised that there wasn't much smoke from the plastic and what smoke there was didn't smell all that noxious. I think they use more benign plastics in food tubs these days, at least that's what I think.

With that problem behind me, I had my lunch and my usual nap. When I got up, I took the wheelbarrow down to the truck and hauled a lot of yard waste from the truck to the compost pile. Then when I put the wheelbarrow away, I brought the chainsaw upstairs with me and placed it on a sheet of plastic sort of near the stove. My plan was to make one more attempt to start it the next day and I suspected that I would have better success if it were nicely warmed up.

On Saturday the temperature was 24° outside when I got up. After breakfast I went right out with the warmed-up saw and to my great delight, it started right up. I used it to buck up the old newel post I had removed from the back staircase. Then I bucked up all the long branches that were lying around, especially a big pile of them by the flagpole.

Then I took the saw into the woods to clear trails. I hadn't done any serious trail maintenance for a long time and there were several logs across the trails that needed removing. I started by walking up the skid trail Robert had made when he retrieved that huge pine log that had blown over a few years ago. The fallen tree had completely blocked my trail so after Robert had skidded the log out, I had cut a very crude trail that connected his skid trail to my original trail that the tree had blocked.

I have been calling the high point of that crude trail the "Khyber Pass", and a little further down, where the trail is very difficult, I call that the "China Gate". I fired up the chainsaw and made both the Khyber Pass and the China Gate quite a bit more passable.

Then I continued up the old original trail to the spring. I noticed that the intake end of my irrigation pipe was sucking in a lot of air and making a loud gurgling sound. Since I had removed my ram pump for the season, I didn't care about the air getting in, so I didn't do anything about it. But I did notice that the dam was lower so it will need to be fixed next spring when I install the pump again.

Just above that were some big logs that had fallen over the trail, so I used the saw to buck them up and get them out of the way. Then I proceeded up past the spring to some logs that had been down and over the trail for at least five years. One of them was a big maple log that was suspended over the ground by two feet or so. It was just high enough so that I could barely step over it. I was eager to get it out of the way.

When I bucked it up, the firewood looked so nice that I decided to see if I couldn't get it back to the cabin somehow. When I had finished bucking the maple log, I went to work on a big fir log that was lying on the ground over the trail. This one had made me mad. A year or two ago, I had tried to buck a chunk out of it to clear my trail and in the process, my saw bar had twice gotten stuck so tight that I had to use an axe to chop it loose both times. I had given up in defeat, but now I was finally determined to win.

I was careful not to get the bar stuck again as I carved my way down through the log on the two sides of the trail. I was happy that I was able to buck that chunk loose this time without getting the bar stuck. I rolled the log chunk out of the way and finally had a clear trail for the first time in years.

When I finished, I continued up the trail to the sequoia grove without running into anything else that needed cutting. When I reached Andrew, I unhooked the tree from the wire that had propped it up straight. When the snow covers the tree, I want it to be able to bend over to the ground naturally without getting hung up on that wire.

I took Andrew's dribble bucket back with me so the snow wouldn't crush it, and I also took the other irrigation bucket I had stashed down by Dave. I had a look at all the rest of the sequoia trees, and they all look healthy and ready for winter.

Back at the cabin, I wondered how I could retrieve those maple firewood rounds. I decided to try the old Trapper Nelson backpack, so I took it back up to the spring. One round filled the thing up and made a pretty heavy load. So, I loaded one round into the backpack, got it on my back, and picked up a second round with my hands.

I brought those two rounds back to the cabin without too much trouble and tried splitting them. To my amazement they split very easily with just an axe. I didn't have to swing that heavy splitting maul that I usually use. Then I took a couple of pieces of the split wood into the cabin and used them to start a fire. The wood was excellent. It burned easily and gave off a lot of heat. I decided that I wanted to bring all of it down, but there had to be a better way.

After lunch and a nap, I sanded all of the 2x6s, both newel posts, and the tread with 220-grit paper to make them ready for their final coat of varnish. After dusting them off, I brought them all inside and stored them in the Grid E3 corner of the room.

Then I decided to take the wheelbarrow up into the woods and retrieve the maple firewood. I parked the wheelbarrow at the Khyber Pass since the trail from there to the spring was not at all wheelbarrow-friendly. Instead of the Trapper Nelson, this time I brought my fabric firewood hauler. Since I could only get one round in the backpack, I knew I could carry at least one round in the sling, and it would be a lot easier.

I found that I could get two rounds in the sling, just barely, but it was too heavy to carry very far. So, I ended up carrying one round in the sling using my right hand, and then tucking a second round under my left arm. That worked well and I hauled two rounds down to the wheelbarrow at the Khyber Pass. There were only two rounds left, so I went back and got them the same way.

Then I wheelbarrowed the four rounds, which made a big wheelbarrow load, back to the cabin and split and stacked all the wood. Then I stacked the wood from the flagpole on top of that. I was very pleased with the results.

But even better, up by the Khyber Pass I had noticed a few big maple logs that had been knocked over when the big pine tree fell. Now that I can get my saw running and I can get a wheelbarrow up there, I really want to harvest those logs for firewood this season if possible. I plan to use all the good weather I get up there before it snows too much and get that wood.

On Sunday morning, after warming the place up with a fire and having my breakfast, I dry-ragged all the wood I was going to varnish and then set up my varnishing operation. Just as before, I started with the tread and then the shorter 2x6s on the sawhorses running under the staircase. Then I added the long 2x6s one at a time and varnished them. Then I set up the tether cord for the newel posts and varnished them.

After cleaning my brush, I took some pictures of the work, had my lunch, finished packing up, and left for home at 1:15, very happy with the week's progress.

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