Monday, December 12, 2022

Cheating or Really Intelligent Use of Resources?


A few months ago I included this photo in a post.

In that post I mentioned that this tree, which is laying across one of the trails on our property, has been slowly settling and now I can't get under it without ducking. I also mentioned that for now, instead of doing something more permanent to resolve the issue, it would be just one more place where I'd have to learn to duck while doing my laps.

Well apparently I don't learn very well.

 A few days ago, with weighted pack on my back and head down as my little feet chugged along trying to keep up with the brisk pace, I ignored the need to duck and for my insolence promptly got knocked flat on my ass.

There was an exceedingly loud crack as my skull was driven back into my neck. Like an encore this was followed with stars, some one-sided, less than family-friendly discussion, and a healthy dose of dumb-ass-you-deserve-it pain. But yet again, with some unfathomable stubbornness, I just carried on without doing anything about the situation other than resolving to do a better job of remembering to duck.

Then yesterday, after making it past the spot unscathed on my outbound trip, that damn tree reached out and dope-slapped me upside the head again on the return trip. Thankfully it was just a light, glancing blow this time, but unless I was ready to start wearing my hardhat and a neck-brace when doing laps, clearly something had to be done about this!

Soo - - - Nope, trusty pruning saw, which even though it hardly ever refuses to start when I need it to, is 10 inches.

Tree: about 14 inches.

Damn! The math, even new math, or whatever confusing crap they're experimenting on our kids with nowadays, just doesn't want to work.

No problem.

I have two chainsaws, both of which are large enough for the job.

But neither one of them is a Stihl, (Ever notice that almost all the people on those off-grid shows that rely on their tools for survival have Stihl chainsaws?) and both of them fight me in different ways.

The small one's carb is all out of wack (I suck at carburetors!) so it is very difficult to start and then keep running.

The big one starts fine, though it idles like crap, but I can't seem to keep the chain properly adjusted. If I don't stop every couple of minutes to re-tighten the chain it throws itself off the bar creating a hell of a mess.(Yes - the chain gets all tangled up too, but mostly it scares the crap out of me every time!)

Besides, with 2-stroke fuel and bar-oil both these saws are stinky and messy and noisy and heavy.

But hey!

I've got a 6 ounce roll of surveyors tape sitting right there on my computer desk! (Doesn't everybody?!)

So back up over the ridge with tape in my pocket

And, with a surplus of intelligence and trail-smarts, problem solved!

I left the tails long enough that even if I'm leaning wearily into my pack with head down as I crank out the steps I'll be able to see it in plenty of time to duck.

At least that's the plan - - -

This is a 34 second video, with narration, of me successfully negotiating the downed tree this morning on the outbound trip.

If that's too long for you here's a 14 second quick-action version of the inbound trip. (Actually I hope one or both of them actually works. I haven't figured out how to test the embedded videos. Maybe after the post is published?)

Now y'all might be wondering why I put up with a less than perfect trail. Why don't I just put on my big-girl panties and get out there and clear things out properly?

I do go out there maybe once a year and trim some of last year's growth back, but not by too much. You see, I'm under the delusion that all the weaving and twisting and turning and ducking a less than perfectly cleared trail forces me to do is better for me. That it works a broader range of muscles, improves my flexibility, and keeps my sense of balance tuned up. (If I'm wrong please don't tell me! Just leave me with my happy delusions.) 

Alright. Much as I'd like to ignore it and leave y'all thinking I'm a genius, here's the reality edit: 

I wrote this a few weeks ago and in a perfect world I'd be able to say that was the end of it, but - - - well - - -

Just to remind me that I'm not quite as smart as I think I am, over the next couple of weeks I picked up a few more divots in my head.

Not on that big tree! That fix has been working great. But apparently, now that I don't have to worry about the big stuff, there are a few smaller obstacles in head's way that feel like they can make themselves bashly (brashly?) known.

Fortunately the small stuff - such as this one which, even though it's right at eye-level where it can hardly be missed has still clipped my hat off a few times - doesn't hurt quite as much, but it is still annoying.

So, if a fix works once it should work again - right?

I hope so!

And since I'm not quite as dumb as I look, I've stashed a supply of head-knocker-tape in my GPS case where I can quickly get to it whether I'm stopping to pick up my hat, busy rubbing the pain out of a new head-divot, or laying flat on my back wondering what the hell just happened. 


  1. I have lots to comment. I have been working on trails...for 35 years now. I use the axe and a hand saw, my husband has a Husqvarna too and a Stihl.
    I used have that tape in my computer desk ( i do not have a computer desk, but you get the idea) but since i try not to use anything plastic, i use rags. ehhh I have hat with a string under my chin, my trails will never be free of those pesky grabbers. Enjoyed your post!

    1. My hat has a string on it too but I only use it for high winds and that's not usually the case in the protection of the woods, so I end up picking it up off the ground on occasion.

      I was recently camped where the nearest trail was a half mile away by road, which I'd rather not "hike" on if I can avoid it, or a quarter mile away by bushwhacking. I used some of my tape to mark the bushwhacking route, which I used about a dozen times over 5 rainy days. On the last return-to-camp trip I picked up all my markers and tucked them back into my GPS case for next time.

  2. Mega Congrats!

    This PROVES you're smarter than I. MY thot was the tape is attached on the far side (outbound) so wouldn't "register" until too late.

    1. I suppose I could drape one leg of the tape over each side, but so far I haven't done myself any new damage on that particular obstacle so I guess it's working the way it is.

  3. Replies
    1. At least there's no voice-over on the second one. Hearing myself on that first one is very disconcerting because I sound exactly like my brother and that's not the way my voice sounds inside my head!

  4. You do have some interesting obstacles to dodge, and you move pretty fast, as evidenced by that second video. I wore out/broke a "prosumer" Husky 350 cutting up five full cords per year to heat our home. Then I switched to a Stihl 260--still not a big saw but it's a pro saw that does everything that I need. I'll wear out before it does.

    1. I was moving slow on that first video - you know, trying to film and walk and talk all at the same time, and the second, of course, was speeded up, so my usual 'doing-my-laps' pace is somewhere in-between. Fast enough to be a decent aerobic workout and sometimes do myself some damage.

      If I used them more I would probably be doing myself a favor by replacing my two less than reliable saws with a Stihl, but I think I might actually wimp-out and buy an electric Ryobi 10" that uses the batteries I already have instead.

  5. We have two large cottonwoods and an elm in our postage-stamp backyard. For decades I've used an electric chainsaw my mother-in-law purchased. I think it's a Sears brand. Easy to start...chain stays on. Best of all, it's QUIET!

  6. What is the blue tube next to your chin?

    1. That's the 'straw' coming up from the water bladder I carry in the pack. (I have a 2 and a 3 liter bladder) The end of the tube has a bite-valve on it. put it between your front teeth, bite down a little to open the valve and suck on it like a straw.

    2. Gross! I ain't puttin' nothin' you had in yer mouth in mine! Jus' sayin'.

    3. No problem. I wasn't going to invite chu anyway