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 with Rob Miskosky

The Tree

Trappers can face many challenges during a trapping season. It just makes sense; put a trapper alone in the forest in deep winter and challenges will be presented to him or her regardless of the amount of care taken. Some of these challenges are the result of poor choices or simple bad luck, but many are unavoidable, especially those presented by Mother Nature. 

When I first saw the tree, I was astonished at its size. The huge pine sat along the creek near my trapline cabin with plenty of bank to hold it straight and firm. Its massive branches offered protection from the sun and even sheltered the firepit from rain on wet days. I’m sure the tree could tell many stories of events that took place around that firepit over the many years it stood watch. Some of the branches that grew from its trunk were as big around as trees themselves, and not little ones either, some were 12-inches across.

By counting the rings, it was estimated the tree was about 110 years old.

Over the past few years, I have watched the bank slowly erode away from the creek side of the big tree. And slowly it began to lean further out over the creek. Then one summer, beavers decided it would make a great location for a bank den and burrowed up and under the big tree, popping up a mud mound beside my picnic table while I was away. The beaver were soon taken care of but the damage had already been done; the big tree was now further leaning precariously over the creek.
I examined that tree from every angle I could and replayed over and over in my mind the scenarios for when it fell. None were positive. Those I asked what they thought couldn’t give me anything positive to dwell on either. All agreed it was headed right into the creek and that if it did fall during the high-water season, with so many large, thick and full branches, the water from the creek would be diverted up and over the bank and right through the front door of my cabin. A scenario that had to be avoided.
The decision was made that the tree couldn’t be left to its own fate any longer. It had to come down while the creek was low and frozen over, no longer was there a choice.
Pierre in the big rounds that had to be rolled up the creek bank.
Not an easy task!
This February, good friend Pierre Frigon and I took up the challenge of the big tree. Running the chainsaw presented its own challenge; not knowing what would happen once the tree started to go. Would it splinter? My face would have to be well clear and I’d have to be on my toes with an exit plan. All was put into place and I’m happy to say the tree fell as planned, nobody died... and then the work began.
You can tell from the photo above the size of the rounds cut from the tree, several I’d estimate weighing as much as 200 pounds yet only a foot thick. Pierre and I laboriously pushed and rolled each up the creek bank to be stored for future firewood use.
Trees have become a serious challenge for me. Late last summer, a wind shear broke off and tumbled thousands of trees on my trapline. Trails have been completely shut off and I was limited to only a portion of my trapline this past trapping season. Work will begin clearing trails again this summer.
Running a trapline can present many challenges; trees are just one of them. ■

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