Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Week One - Happy Trails

Well folks, after a bit of a late start and a few cat accidents (and the obligatory wayward tarp), we finally made it down to Manley and rented ourselves a nice little guest cabin for the month of August while we (hopefully) get a trail cleared on our property. We just missed one of our neighbors, Tom, who's a UAF student that came down to look over his property. We passed his rental car on the way in, but by the time we'd unloaded and got the cats settled so we could head back, they'd already cleared out. Hopefully my instructions and GPS coordinates got him to at least one of his corner markers. The brush is really thick, so he might not have been able to get to all of them unless he found another way in from the east.

The cabin is very nice, and we do have electricity even if we don't have running water. We've been out to the land fill and the community well, and are generally figuring out where everything is and who has what equipment we might need sometime later. The outhouse is a unique experience, complete with blue board styrofoam toilet seat, and since it is on a hill and backs the road there is nothing like having a 4-wheeler buzz past you while you're taking your morning constitutional... especially since the plywood door is only held marginally closed with a frayed bungee and a few nails :)

Hauling water and using it in the dry cabin takes a little getting used to (remembering on my part and learning on Gungnir's part). G-man now realizes why "cleaniness is next to godliness" because maintaining cleaniness in an environment where water is not freely available requires a certain degree of godliness :). Something as simple as washing your hands takes on a new level of complexity... after all, you don't want to get your water jug all soapy trying to rinse one hand and then transfer the soap back to the clean hand when you switch. You also learn to never ever waste your water, especially not if you just used fuel to warm it up on the stove. Luckily, we aren't relying entirely on bucket baths since Mrs. Gladys Dart includes an hour daily in the hot springs baths with the cabin rental. We enjoyed a lovely soak in the "cool" tub last night, and I might just brave the "warm" tub at some point... but I'd like to keep my skin, so I'll stay out of the "hot" tub!

We're still getting used to the dry air up here, and the smoke from the forest fires has been pretty thick; but otherwise we're starting to adjust. As usual, there is the little bit of tummy issues switching to new water, but nothing major. We just have to remember that it's not a race to get the property cleared and we need to give ourselves some time to get used to everything and recover from the moving and driving. No sense going out and playing with chainsaws and falling trees when you're exhausted, injured or not feeling 100%.

We have gone out to the property twice so far and have gotten a good 50-75 feet of trail cut in and widened. Of course, we had to start in right at the corner that has a huge section of dead fall, so we're kind of stuck wading through that treacherousness at the moment; but once that's cleared out of the way I think we'll start making a little faster progress. It's amazing how much time and effort goes in to what looks like so little progress on the surface. Our goal is to clear a walking trail of at least 50 feet a day, then come back the following day and widen it enough for the ATV (at least) and cut up the trees we felled and clear out all the brush and flotsam. Eventually, we're going to have to brave the main trail with the truck to make sure it can actually get back down to our property, but we wanted to make sure that we'd cleared enough of our "driveway apron" to be able to turn around if we could squeeze down. There are a couple of nasty little berms/hillocks on the main path that we'll probably need to grade down a little since they nearly killed us on the ATV... don't think the truck would like them much either!

So, right now, our life consists of mosquitos, sweat flies, spruce sap, the residual odor of 2-stroke, wood smoke, and gray glacial silt dust (which permeates everything). So far, our battle scars are few and minor, and we hope it stays that way. In the meantime, we're enjoying our breakfasts of biscuits and Spam, lunches of PB & local homemade cranberry preserves (our new neighbors are awesome -- thanks Carol!), and dinners of whatever soup can we manage to lay our hands on in the cupboard when we aren't too tired to stop by the Roadhouse for some socializing. Life is good :)

In the vein of our beloved Sager... clear brush, haul logs! :D


Anonymous said...

Aw. "beloved"

Ya'll are too kind.

I always get it backwards: Chop water, carry wood. But I guess it's accurate in winter? (Esp. up your way?)

I hope all is moving forward nicely.

VIVA! Sager

Anonymous said...

Jennine and Gman,

Wow, already such an adventure. I am wondering if clearing your land is going as you thought it might? Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us, I am learning quite a bit! Stay safe!


Anonymous said...

Wondering idly what all might be transpiring.

Just back from officiating a wedding. I figure from wedding cake to clearing brush is only, what...'leventy-teen steps?

Hope all is well...HUG!

Viva -- Sager