July 3-10: Happiness is a Warm Saw

Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! I’m knocking out a wedge with the back of my axe, hoping that the 27-inch spruce Claire and I’ve spent the past six hours limbing and cutting will finally fall along its three carefully placed cuts.

Thwack! Thwack! Fwoomp!

The wedge pops and the five-foot sections release, rolling aside just as we’d planned. The two of us couldn’t be happier. We spent so much time planning and discussing these cuts, carefully wedging and underbucking, doing everything we could to avoid a pinched saw that would end our day, pronto.

With only the two of us out here, opening the Dan Ridge Trail for an upcoming volunteer hitch, we’ve learned how to communicate very well. Claire knows she tends to pull the saw downward; I know I tend to pull it towards me – each making it harder for our partner and changing the quality of our cut.

But those three cuts were perfect – they had to be. And in each, the three imprints of our wedges are forever imbedded in the white faces of each log – so much weight in 80 feet of freshly fallen old-growth spruce – and a whole lot of pride. It’s the end of our ten-hour day, and we head toward camp, smiling and chatting and ready for our hard-earned rest.

We get to hike by that spruce, and those perfect cuts, for the rest of our hitch, and we’ll be just as proud each time.

     — Allie Tincher, Wilderness Ranger Intern | July 11, 2012