This past week Grandpa has been working me hard at getting a trail cut into the hundred acre wood. (Sorry for the lack of entries!)
It started with him pointing out a possible route to get the tractor from our main path back to the gully that marks the entrance to the wider, deeper ravine. Up until then I had assumed that I would follow the edge of a low-lying area that traced from our front driveway, north of all our constuctions, and into the gully that eventually leads to the ravine. Instead, this new plan is a more direct route from where we plan on putting in the cabin, through a higher and drier area, and then connecting to the gully right where it leads into the ravine.
With much trepidation, I slowly drove the tractor out onto pristine turf that Grandpa had already examined and declared suitable. He had gone ahead with his grub hoe and leveled off the worst of the lumps and bumps. He had also knocked down a few branches here and there to get the tractor through. I managed to get quite close to the gully, representing a real accomplishment. We used the tractor to skid out three large logs that had windfallen recently and looked to be great candidates for construction next spring. The remaining portions of the trees were piled carefully for future use in our stove, perhaps next winter, or this winter, if we burn through our woodshed supply too quickly.
After we crossed the ravine, we slowly worked our way up the ridge that effectively divides the front and back portions of our property. After a number of days progressing north until we were close to the halfway mark, Grandpa turned left and we started to try to work our way up and to the west. Unfortunately, we came to what appears to be an insurmountable ledge, and had to rethink our plans.
Donna and Kenny came out to see how far we had gotten, and then they wandered off. One of their finds was a narrow valley that led from our trail up and onto the high ground! I examined it myself, and then showed it to Grandpa. He agreed that it was currently our best route west, even if the tractor wasn’t able to traverse it without extra landscaping. We tunneled through some incredibly dense brush, coming upon a large “floater” left behind by the glaciers. After christening it “Kenny Rock”, we continued cutting our way west. Grandpa announced that this trail was going to be a “destination” trail – leading to our lake! Very exciting – we hadn’t travelled to the lake via our own property since last fall.
Grandpa and I have been hacking our way through the bush the past week now, using our noses and the GPS as a guide. Yesterday I came late with my chainsaw, which I used to cut larger logs and stumps that were on and across the path, until I ran out of petrol. In the silence that ensued I realized that Grandpa wasn’t anywhere near where I had finished. I called out many times, and then pressed into service all my memories of books and movies about tracking. I followed upturned leaves, broken branches, and scuffed moss for almost a third of a kilometre before finally coming upon Grandpa – at the lake. He had decided to bushwhack to the lake, and work his way back from there. I helped him cut the trail from a nice location on the shore to another narrow valley that led down to the lake. We called it a day.
Today he sent me on ahead to the top of that valley to work my way back towards him, while he cut in from our original trail towards me. We hoped that being able to hear one another would best facilitate a straight-line connection between our trails. This worked surprisingly well. I would occasionally holler out and listen for his reply before continuing. Eventually I was able to hear the rythmic thumping of his axe, as he surely could hear my panting and groans as I pulled out tiny saplings on the trail, and flailed with my own axe against trees that appeared either made of iron, or alternately rubber.
We finally met up around the lunch hour, and declared today’s work finished. We really only have two more short sections to clear to have a trail completely from the front entrance to the lake. One is in the short valley at the lake, and the other is from the base of that valley to the short trail Grandpa cut in from the lakeshore. Very exciting!