Follow by Email

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Day The Giant Fell!

About 150 years ago ... that's about the time of the Civil War ... A white spruce seedling started growing in northern MN. And she grew and grew and grew, when lots of other things changed around her. Other trees fell, storms passed, some fires, a few folks with big saws and axes, winter came and went 150 times. 

Then in about 2013 (after she witnessed our wedding!) another storm came by and lightning struck the Old Spruce Gal around her midsection. It took about another year, but then she died. Died but didn't fall.

Here she is, the top of her old gnarly spruce head (actually two heads... our very own Hydra) from a ways off.... 

...And here is The Giant Spruce Lady from a closer vantage point. She stood near the edge of one of our most important trails here on Cascade Bluff, and not far from the entrance to our labyrinth, where, of course you all know (those of you who have visited us and those who have followed our blog) we held our wedding ceremony in September of 2013. A lovely spot - an important spot - and that had us worried. What would happen when (not if) the Old Lady fell? White spruce are pretty common up here in the boreal forest, and one of the things you notice right away is how shallow their roots are - all spread out over the rocky ground - and how often you see them lying on the ground, roots pulled up or their trunks snapped off. Since the Old Lady was really really tall - we think at least 100 feet - that would mean she'd likely completely trash our labyrinth if she fell! Or even more dangerous - the next lightning strike would turn this stately tree into a huge torch! 

So this post is all about what we did about The Giant of the Woods. Starting last year, we decided to hire people who use chainsaws for a living rather than try to keep up our chainsaw savvy skills. Our "go to" local guys are North Shore Timber Service and they are great. We have been really impressed with their knowledge and skills, so when The Giant Spruce Gal died, we showed her to Gunnar and Dave. Gunnar's reaction was "Cool. I get to climb another enormous tree!"

Here we are about 20 minutes into the process ...notice anything different? Here's a hint - the branches on the first 50 feet or so are missing. Gunnar is on his way up the tree, chainsaw in hand, trimming as he goes...


Gunnar nearing the top...

Wow, he's getting pretty high...

Gunnar is now at the "split top" of the tree, preparing to behead the Giant Spruce Lady...
Oh my, he's a ways up there! 
And let's not forget about Dave, who was very hard at work at the base of the Big Lady, handling all the branches that Gunnar was dropping down...
For a while we were trying to keep up with the falling limbs by chipping them right at the base of the spruce... no way we could keep up! 
That's our pal Alex (who manages to always visit us on weekends when we need all sorts of immediate help and heavy labor) piling up the branches... 
We finally got around to using the ATV and the trailer after hauling branches out by hand for a while... the whole thing is making a mighty big pile....
Here's some shots from a ways off so you can see how brave and crazy Gunnar is... actually he was being very cautious and safe, and seemed like he was enjoying the view!


Here's our arborist from right under the spruce... He's about to lop off "head #1)


And here she goes... all of a sudden, the branches are upside-down!! 
The top is headed toward the bottom!

Almost there...
Dave welcoming the spruce top at ground level...
Gunnar about to deal with the Hydra's second head...
Vrrmmm Vroommmm there goes the chainsaw again...
Almost through...
Head number two... timber!
Let 'er go!
Gunnar's about to start the climb down to deal with the trunk...
...He started moving fast and furious, basically deconstructing underneath his own feet...


At about this point Gunnar and Dave paused to exchange chainsaws... Gunnar needed the "big saw" from here on out...
Now the big hunks of trunk are starting to come down...

The whole process was amazingly fast and efficient...
Woo ooo, here it goes!
Face cut....
Back cut...
Tiiiimmmbeerrrr!
Here's Dave on the ground managing those huge trunk sections that are falling all around him... actually it was all very controlled and safe and very cool to watch...


Holy moley, this is going to be a lot of wood! 
Now Gunnar and Dave are both on the ground at last, about to get the final section down...
And boom... there it is...
The Giant Old Spruce Lady has fallen! 
Right in the middle of this photo of the trunk is a dark spot ... that's where the lightning struck! 
The shaggy stripe of bark led downward from  the strike spot and had peeled off bark all the way to the ground... 
Once they sut the trunk apart, Dave and Gunnar showed us what a lightning strike looks like on the inside... 
...and then they made an interesting and scary discovery... the trunk below that "lightning strike" zone began to fall into half-pieces spontaneously...
...and besides the carpenter ants that had taken up residence in the tree, the trunk had split perfectly into two halves. 
Carpenter ant tunnels...
The split in the wood... 
A few of the more massive chunks...
And here's a half-section... the wood almost looked as though it had been sealed! Or perhaps "seared" would be the explanation... seared by lightning!
And here are our heroes, Gunnar (with the hunk of birch on his shoulder) and Dave (hefting a massive chunk under one arm). They can be reached at Solbakken Resort by phone at (218) 663-7566 or on the web at www.solbakkenresort.com/ 

Next post coming very soon ... How we chopped the Giant into little bits! 



No comments:

Post a Comment