Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Urban Loggers






I needed to remove a dead fir tree from our front yard that stood about 40 feet tall. My neighbor Mike up the street and I decided that we could take it down ourselves. We came upon this decision about two years ago and I’m sure that alcohol was being consumed at the time. What, pray tell, could be so difficult about cutting a tree down? We really didn’t procrastinate over these two years. I’d say it was more like pondering.


Sunday night Michelle and I were walking our dog when we came upon Mike and his wife doing the same. The dogs started playing with each other and since we met in front of our house Mike and I started to ponder some more about the tree. Suddenly we pondered no more and decided to go into action. It was about 6:00 PM and Mike went to get his chain saw, some rope, and some logging clothes. I got some ladders, some rope and Riley my 18 year old son.
The news traveled quickly and soon neighborhood boys were hanging around asking questions and wondering if they could watch. The women of the neighborhood gathered on a far curb with a bottle of wine to watch the event. It seemed they somehow expected to see some sort of show from Mike and I. We are in fact practically expert woodsmen with Mike having some limited success in his back yard cutting a tree before. I too was experienced as I used to chop down trees with my shotgun when I got bored hunting grouse as a teenager. Just because Mike spends most of his time flying Boeing 737’s and I spend most of my time working with customers who manufacture products here in America doesn’t mean we were out of our league.

First order of business was safety! We tied a rope around the tree and walked it up about 25 feet. The tree was located between two other larger trees so we tied a rope between the large trees as a safety to stop the tree from falling onto our house if it were to somehow fall the wrong way. We tied another rope around the tree up at 25 feet and tied it off to a nearby tree to put some tension in the direction we wanted it to fall. I spliced several ropes together for the main pull rope. This rope stretched across our yard, the road, and into our neighbors’ driveway next to their garage.


Time to make some sawdust! I got the kids that had gathered to move into a safe zone. The women moved a bit further away as well and talk started about life insurance policies. Mike dawned his earplugs, safety glasses, and fired up the chainsaw. Mike likes to leave a tall stump so you have something to hook a car to so you can pull it out of the ground. So instead of juggling the chain saw he put a stepladder next to the tree and climbed up so he could leave about a six-foot stump. I was in position across the street hanging on to the rope and applying tension in the direction we wanted it to fall. Riley was standing by on alert. Mike made the first two cuts creating the wedge on the side we wanted the tree to fall. He then moved the ladder and started the final cut. As Mike cut I could hear the saw suddenly bind up so I gave the rope more tension and he finished the cut as the tree leaned. The bottom of the tree jumped out about six feet from the stump landing in my yard. We didn’t expect that and it caused some problems for me very quickly. Since the cut end of the tree leaped out six feet the top of the tree was now leaning toward my house. Good thing we put that safety rope up! As the tree drug my skinny butt across the driveway it started leaning over toward our next door neighbors house. Riley grabbed the safety rope that we had attached to the tree and started pulling the tree back up straight. As soon as he started pulling I was able to gain ground and start moving the tree back in the direction we wanted it to go. As soon as Riley let go the tree started dragging me back toward the house with the tree headed toward our roof. I yelled for Riley to come help me with the rope and he ran over as I was being dragged about four feet. As soon as Riley got a grip on the rope and started pulling the tree started to tip in the direction we had planned. A couple more back steps and we fell that tree exactly where we intended it to go!
Mike, Riley, and I all gave each other high fives and the kids that were so good about staying away were climbing on the log. We finished cutting the tree into firewood and hauled it to Mikes house for his fireplace. Michelle joined in on the cleanup and soon we were done! I wonder what Mike and I will ponder next?


I’ve gained most of the feeling back in my left little finger so other than that I’d say the job went without a hitch!


I’m running Cle Elum Ridge 50K this weekend. Hopefully I won’t need to do any logging while I’m on the trail. I wouldn’t want to endanger my fellow runners.

25 comments:

aquaasho said...

Good luck with the 50k Eric! Hopefully it goes better than the logging! :-)

wendy said...

Ah, Eric. Always an adventure. =)

A 50K is a drop in the hat for you nowadays! I figure, if I ever run another marathon, it's going to have to be in conjunction with some ultra events, so there will be a few other people on the course with me. =)

Backofpack said...

I need to clarify a few things. First, it was really good wine. We not only talked about life insurance, but about how we could win $10000 on Funniest Home Videos. And Kelly and I talked about what manly men our husbands were, while the other women nodded in jealousy. It was quite an entertaining evening!

shawn said...

Are you two for hire? I've got this tree in my front yard...

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

I wish I could have seen it! Pure entertainment I am sure. Glad it went well and that Riley was there to help!
JEnny

Joe said...

Real men, with a real job, all in the rugged PNW.

A hoot!

Good luck in ONLY a 50K!!

craig said...

A guy in my church came to help me take down a dead oak tree. He has experience as he works for the city of Fort Worth and takes down trees all the time.

As he made a couple of cuts I told him it was beginning to lean towards the house. He made some calculations, shifted a bit, and continued cutting. I knew we were in trouble when it again moved closer to the house.

We propped it up with a 2x6 (which would have snapped like a toothpick if it had started to lean). He went for some tackle and rope while I prayed that the wind wouldn't blow.

In the end we got it down safely. But I could really identify with your situation.

Sarah said...

Did you make sure there weren't any tree-huggers up in that tree before you cut it down? ; ) : )

Thomas said...

You should stick no saner things, like running 100 miles across several mountain ranges.

But I'm glad to hear that nobody got injured too badly.

olga said...

Yeah, I was that tree hugger on the other side, and you killed me! Now I am brain-dead and piling miles on my injured leg so I can keep up with you...

King Arthur said...

It sounds like you had it all under control the whole time. I don't know what people were worried about. 2 yrs of planning and it went down exactly where you wanted it.

Take it easy on that first climb at Cle Elum. You'll need those legs later.

Meghan said...

OMG! They have professionals for stuff like this, did you know that?

Michelle- I was thinking to myself, I wonder if someone has this on tape, because it could get quite funny.

Eric- Good luck this weekend. I'm dying to do that race someday. Alas, I will be watching youngsters cahse each other around some cross coutnry course in Montana. Best of luck!

Meghan

craig said...

What I like most about the video is the play by play commentary.

shawn said...

Eric - I don't know why you decided to go after that spindly little Charlie Brown tree when there was obviously two much greater challenging trees there to fall! Nice video!! My favorite parts are when someone is calming down the dog "it's okay Zoey" and all the high-5's at the end. I can tell that's you in the video at the end from your swagger.

Too funny!! Hmm...it makes me remember this VHS tape I have of me and my friend videoing us doing a driveby in front of her "crush's" house, during highschool, whem she crashed into a parked car on the street - America's Funniest Video faceoff????

Michelle - hope your life insurance plan are up to date ;-) I can relate...Jay has tried many a time to climb into our tree to cut it down...did I mention I have this tree in my front yard that needs to come down...???

Jack said...

I read the account of your great tree falling experience on Bloglines, thinking how great it would have been to see a video of that - ask an ye shall receive! Great job guys!

Bruce said...

Just as well you dont ponder on your next race for as long as you do about trees. Well done at CCC at all the best for the next one.

Amanda said...

I've now read this twice because i thought it was so funny. I can absolutely see my finance deciding to suddenly cut down a tree and the whole neighborhood making a show of it.

scott keeps running said...

what a video! looked like an inch or two away from a new skylight. :)

i look forward to meeting you tomorrow. hopefully i'll be conscious during the whole event.

mtnrunR said...

eric,
that was funnier than crap!!! have fun this weekend
tom

Annette said...

Oh man! I would've been having heart failure watching that one. Way to pull it off. . . . barely? :)

Leave the chainsaw at home this weekend and have fun!

Mother of Martineau Tribe said...

That was GREAT!!!

what is it about men - give them a power tool and enough rope and well.....

Congratulations on making it out alive, in one piece and with an intact roof!
:D

Jon said...

That was some hi-larious tree cutting! Have a fun 50k tomorrow!

Bob Gentile said...

LOLOL ya don't drop any logs on the trail this weekend :-)

Have a great time this weekend and nice video clip, you crazy urban loggers

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Thanks for adding the video clip. I agree with Shawn. When I came to your house and saw the skinny stumo I admit I was a bit disappointed. The story sounded like it was one of the bigger trees. Still it was entertaining none the less!
Jenny

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