27: Logging, part 2

Last week, my friend Tobias and his family came up the holler to drop some more trees. Tobias works for the nearby Great Smoky Mountain National Park. He carves trails and oversees the conscientious maintenance of sensitive woodland areas spanning the East side of the park, from Fontana to Cataloochee. You'd think he wouldn't be into "killing" trees, but I doubt I'll ever see him chained in protest to some juvenile tulip poplar in the middle of a second-growth forest sprouting in the Appalachian rain forest near the Highland Plateau.

Fact is, poplars grow fast, like weeds. Also, my land is rich in tree diversity, and thinning the canopy just a small bit will improve the health of my oaks, birches, beeches, and other more desirable trees.

Tobias is a Sawyer in his own right, although not a professional logger like Tom. Not from the commercial sector, he commands great skill and knowledge in the safe, effective, and precise use of a chainsaw. Tobias is the kind of example that would inspire the most hardened anarchist to sing songs supporting the efficacy of government. Trying to explain sophisticated hinging techniques to me, at the end of the day I rely on his judgment and directly applied personal skill when it comes to cutting down a tree. Timberrrrr! I just pick the tree and get out of his way.

Something Tom explained to me, and Tobias confirmed: despite the catastrophic obvious effect that getting nailed by the main trunk of a tree may have, that's not the most common type of accident. When a tree moves, its branches and those of its neighbor collide and sometimes break off. Tom said, "if a stick as big as my thumb falls in the right way and hits you in the right spot, you're done for."

After storms and windy days, I've found 10' long, wrist-thick branches impaled in hard earth like a javelin. Right where we play. When we're working on still-vertical wood, I wear a helmet.

I may be (for better or for worse) teaching myself rough (very) woodworking techniques, construction methods, and cabin design. But I'm grateful that I have friends like Tom and Tobias -- there's no room for trial and error when it comes to the dynamics of cutting down a big tree, and I'm better off learning from them.

1 comment:

  1. Good entry, but that poem is perhaps the worst poem ever written. Seriously. Love the park, hate the poem.


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I use this blog to chronicle certain aspects of my life near the Smokies. I'm building a cabin. I kayak. Sometimes I bike.