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Winter Work part 3, Clearing The Hill;

Posted 04-11-2013 at 05:23 PM by Ard

The adventure was all about work and some of it was as hard and heavy as any I've done in my life and I've not been shy about manual labor. The cabin looks great from the outside in the summer............... Even in the winter the outside looks good.

By the date I took this the snow had been deepening every day and the skies stayed steel gray for weeks on end.
Click the image to open in full size.

Boss and I were so glad to see the sun when it finally came out and began climbing above the horizon in late January the change of pace was noticeable.

Between fighting off the bush every summer trying to create a good clearing and cutting firewood every winter there has never seemed to be time to get serious about the interior. Essentially our downstairs was one large room, 24 X 24' and the loft was a 24 X 16. The framing and second floor work changed the scope of work for the interior and I needed to get busy outside. Over the spring and summer I'll wire it up and install the insulation in the first floor ceilings all around and then sheet them with the twenty 4 X 8 1/4" sanded plywood I had brought in by sled. I have ordered a 12' long custom freight sled for pickup this coming fall. With one of those and the new Ski Doo Skandic Superwide we got in January I'll be able to haul in loads up to 1200 pounds safely. This will pay for itself quickly because current freight charges are .30 per pound. Every thousand pounds = $300 and the loads I had this winter cost almost 800 dollars in freight delivery fees on top of a couple thousand paid for all the materials.

All of that inside stuff went pretty quickly, then came the outdoor work. We have 650' of shoreline but it has been pretty much covered with large birch and spruce trees since the place went up. I'm talking lots of trees in the 20 - 30" base size along with plenty of small alder and willow spread among the young birch. The trees present a 2 fold problem, first they block sun & a good view of the lake, secondly they acted as a wind break from the breezes that often move over the lake. No breeze = a great environment for mosquitoes! I've traveled, camped, and fished from Newfoundland to Alaska and never have I seen so many mosquitoes! They make summer not so fun.

So I spent 5 weeks cutting trees and hauling them in either firewood size logs 22 - 24" length or taking the spruce trees in pole length between 10 & 16' logs for use as construction logs. Over the 5 weeks I cut and hauled over 50 large trees. My little Tundra 550 long track got a real workout but it hauled even the largest spruce logs up the hill to the stack. Oh, I forgot to mention that all this cutting took place on a slope / hill that leads down to the lake shore and in 4' of snow. Because of the snow much of this work was done while wearing snowshoes.

If I live long enough I want to use the cabin as a base camp for guiding fishing trips to the upper reaches of the local rivers. By starting from the cabin you can easily get yourself 100 miles from the nearest boat launch and that cuts the crowd significantly........

These pictures will help to show how the shore is now cleared. I should have done a before & after but it didn't occur to me to do that.

Each tree had to be dug out to the ground leastwise you end up with a forest of 6' stumps when the snow melts.
Click the image to open in full size.

The saw has a 25" bar on it and for some of the trees it was not enough to make it in one cut.........
Click the image to open in full size.

I ended up with one of the fire wood piles being 22' long - 6' high - and 10' wide. There are also a huge batch stowed under the cabin until I split them in spring along with several huge piles of camp fire wood up to 4" diameter.
Click the image to open in full size.

I got enough pole logs to start another cabin but they will make the upright framing for the 'New & Large Woodshed' and snowmachine parking spot. I need a generator shed too...........
Click the image to open in full size.

Here's a couple medium size down and the stumps ready to be cut out. These were among the first trees cut and the snow had not gotten real deep yet.
Click the image to open in full size.

A stump being cut out, you use plunge cuts to take out the roots below ground level.
Click the image to open in full size.

All this cutting is accompanied but chopping all the small limbs from the trees into pieces that can be burned so you don't leave a snarled mess of tree tops behind your work. The fire shown was when I started. I pretty much had a constant burn going for weeks at a time. The snow fell as well as the trees and when I was done I had a hole in the snow 4 feet deep with a diameter of 15 feet.
Click the image to open in full size.

With everything cleaned up I loaded for home rigging 2 sleds in order to carry everything that needed to go with me.
Click the image to open in full size.

By the time that March 27 rolled around the part of the hill I had cleared first was covered in fresh snow and no trace of all the work could be seen. The area I finished the day before I left shows the sawdust covering the snow.

I stopped and took this picture as I rode away from my place in the Bush Country.

Click the image to open in full size.

I'll be glad to write something about fishing soon but this is what I was doing all that time I was away from the forum here and home. By the time I can break out a Spey rod and go fishing I will have earned it I'd guess.

Your comments are most welcome.

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  1. Old Comment
    jaybo41's Avatar
    Your little slice of heaven looks greatly improved Ard. I'm amazed that you accomplished as much as you did in the short time you were away. By the way, it seemed like you were gone for quite a long time as the forum goes anyway Thanks for sharing your adventures!
    Posted 04-12-2013 at 03:04 PM by jaybo41 jaybo41 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Ard's Avatar
    I'm sorry that they weren't fishing adventures Jason. Next year we will be ice fishing for pike, laker's, and burbot out there. That will add some fun to the trips.

    I found this picture taken from the lake last year, it shows how many trees were on that shore as seen in the last winter shot.

    Click the image to open in full size.
    Posted 04-12-2013 at 03:32 PM by Ard Ard is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Ard's Avatar
    I found this too, how about this monster I took down last summer? I should have taken a picture of the tree but I shot the stump with Boss sitting beside it, he is a talll 85 pound Shepherd.

    Click the image to open in full size.
    Posted 04-12-2013 at 04:27 PM by Ard Ard is offline
  4. Old Comment
    jaybo41's Avatar
    Proof that you felled plenty of trees Ard. That's a lot of work for one guy and his pooch! Boss looks like he's happy with or without the tree. That does look like a large one to have taken down. Excellent writings Ard, fishing related or not. Thanks for sharing.
    Posted 04-12-2013 at 08:38 PM by jaybo41 jaybo41 is offline
  5. Old Comment
    A lot of work for one winter, believe your arms will be ready for fly fishing this summer! One question though, how are you packing Boss out on the sled?

    Posted 04-12-2013 at 10:15 PM by littledavid123 littledavid123 is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Ard's Avatar
    Hi Dave,

    Sorry I missed your call, the day before I left I put him in a large crate and then in a sled. Then I pulled him down to Skwentna about 8 miles away where there is a mail plane on Monday's and Thursday's. They took him back to Anchorage for me. Boss gets to fly in & out and only came by sled once.

    I ordered a big custom freight sled for delivery this September. These are steel frames with raised beds. They sit up high on 4 big wide, long skies and the skies have a sort of suspension to them. With the long ski base and the flexing skies the ride is smooth on these things. With that, Boss will travel on the big sled coming and going with me. That will simplify things a bit.

    No doubt about the workout I got out there, some of those monster logs were something else. At the end of the days I popped 4 Ibuprofen and went to bed. Sometimes I had a hard time lifting them into and out of the little sled. You can carry about 5 or 6 big ones in a sled and a load of smaller ones. I burned up about 20 gallons of gas just hauling the wood and brush right up the hill to the cabin to stack logs and burn brush.

    When the snow melts I know it'll be a holly mess because there were down trees buried under the snow that were frozen to the ground. There will also be a thousand saplings and some stumps to deal with. The stumps with deep buttress roots I left alone. I had broken 2 saw blades getting them hot on those big logs and when they hit snow and ice at 10* they just popped. With only one good blade left I had to choose my fights well so I didn't lose the blade.

    I figure to take 10, 25" blades with this spring and rip things up real good. The ground is peat not soil with rocks. 10 blades will cost 290 dollars and that's cheap to get rid of all the eyesores I think.

    Someday I will run a mower on the flat around the cabin and that will be a beautiful thing.
    Posted 04-12-2013 at 10:46 PM by Ard Ard is offline
  7. Old Comment
    jimp's Avatar
    Quite an adventure you've got going here. Hope it all goes as "planned".

    Posted 04-13-2013 at 07:12 PM by jimp jimp is offline
  8. Old Comment
    fyshstykr's Avatar
    You are a freakin' "Beast" Ard!
    Posted 04-13-2013 at 11:58 PM by fyshstykr fyshstykr is offline
  9. Old Comment
    Ard's Avatar
    I love getting comments, they make me feel that all this writing and pasting of pictures is appreciated.

    Fysh, I believe I lost some weight but gained some strength while I was doing all of that. It was hard work and some days I just needed to rest.
    Posted 04-14-2013 at 01:28 AM by Ard Ard is offline
  10. Old Comment
    markg52's Avatar
    Great stuff as always Ard! Appreciate you taking the time to share with us all.
    Posted 04-16-2013 at 04:26 PM by markg52 markg52 is offline
  11. Old Comment
    Wow, that's a lot of work in a short time! Looks great. One slice of one of the bigger trees will make a nice table or some stools.
    Posted 04-25-2013 at 08:54 PM by gunner gunner is offline
  12. Old Comment
    Ard's Avatar

    Thanks so much for your comments, It's so good to know you enjoy these postings.
    Posted 04-25-2013 at 09:58 PM by Ard Ard is offline
  13. Old Comment
    Great story, thanks for posting it. I just saw a documentary last night about remote hunters living in cabins in the Siberian outback. One of them also had a dog, but he made it run 60 miles back to the village as he rode on the snowmobile. I'm not sure I believe that, but that's what the narrator said. I spent a summer in Antarctica but it never got as cold as you describe here. There seemed to be a lot of Alaskans working down there. Anyway, I have really enjoyed reading about your winter in the bush. Great cabin.
    Posted 04-29-2013 at 08:39 PM by gfirob gfirob is offline

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