Yesterday morning, with coffee, surveyed the forest, stretching back and upward along the slope of the mountain. I studied one tree in particular, a Ponderosa Pine, one of several I have sized-up countless times. It goes up around 75 feet; 14 inches in diameter. I have known that the tree needs to come down, but its a beautiful tree, or a handsome tree, one or another. It is a large tree for my eyes; stands like a bull in a china shop. East, ten feet away, is the roof. North, fifty feet, is a power line. South, twenty feet, runs the phone line. That leaves west. And even then, the phone line on the south and the power line on the north converge, at an angle, at the pole (west).
I will cut this Ponderosa Pine six feet above the ground and it will miss the lines that come together at the pole, in theory. I will use three guide ropes. One is a tow chain. The guide ropes will pull the tree downward, into the four-foot space between two aspens, in theory. After I tie off the guide ropes, I go inside and sip some coffee, tempted to stop this insanity. I consider this venture risky for an inexperienced woodsman. I drink more coffee, review, reassess, and consider these factors:
- A professional tree service? Too expensive;
- The tree is too close to the house, and must come down;
- I want to get this done, as painful and as intimidating this may be;
- I have everything covered, as long as I cut the tree down correctly;
- Finally, I am a wilderman, and wildermen all over the world are depending on me to go for it (sounds a bit grandiose).
There is another slight complication: my chainsaw it not running well, and I cannot depend on it until I get a tune-up and a new chainsaw blade. Therefore, I will be using my axe and my wedges.
After the fastidious, slow, axe-work, front and back, it is time to go to the ropes. I begin pulling with a slow, rhythmic, technique, increasing the force, the ponderosa pine swaying further and further, until I hear the first “CRACK!”. My heart is beating a bit faster, and I wonder if I am about to die. When the tree snaps, there will be less than five seconds before the tree slams against the ground. I will run at the right time, in the right direction, to the right place, without tripping. The tree is swaying with more intensity now. I listen as I continue to pull the tree, and .
“CRACK!” . . .
An ominous sound it is. The tree is coming for me. I sprint northwest, twenty feet, crouch behind two Ponderosa, and watch the mammoth tree, seemingly in slow motion, collide with the earth. Dirt and needles and branches are flying. The sound is powerful.
I come to the conclusion that, amidst my thankfulness that there has been no property damage nor injuries, I will seek the assistance of some other seasoned wildermen woodsmen if I have another tree experience so challenging. I go back inside and I make some fresh coffee. And I will use three guide ropes.