Good times and bad frights

The weather today calls for -25, a great time for reminiscing. My dad and I were just talking about the old days when we worked together as loggers in the back country. Despite the hard work and harsh weather, we were left with some great memories.

The sun shone bright this morning, so we knew the day would be hot. When we packed our gear on the old Yamaha three wheel ATV, we made sure to pack lots of water. My dad drove and I sat on the back, and through the 26 miles of rough road we had to drive, it gave us a chance to view the magnificent scenery that stood on either side of the road.

When we finally reached the site, both our backs were sore from all the bumps. The old ATV lacked anything that could be called suspension, and we knew it. Still, the trusty little bike carried us to and from work for over fifteen years, until the thing finally fell apart.

The walk to the landing, and then onto the site where we had left off the day before was quite easy today, as the weather had been hot for the past week. Even the old Timber Jack road was fairly easy to walk on, due to the dryness. The Timber Jack was so heavy that it’s wheels spun every bit of soil away from its path, leaving black mud on either side of the trail. As slippery as it was, it was still easier than walking through the tuckamores that grew on the trail, as their small crooked branches seemed to reach for your feet and trip you.

When we finally reached the site, my dad recovered his chainsaw from the hiding place where he had left it. Rather than carry the saw in and out every day, we found unique hiding places that protected the saw from the weather and from thieves.

My dad started the saw, and I was ready with my pulp hook. He sawed the trees and fell them to the ground, sawing the logs into eight foot lengths, and I used a sharp metal hook called a pulp hook to carry the logs and pile them on two lengths of wood so that the Timber Jack could easily retrieve them and haul them to the landing.

Everything was going well, trees fell exactly where dad aimed them, and seeing how the trees were growing at the top of a hill, not much water remained in the trees, making them unusually light. Then it happened.

A chunk of wood flew from the edge of the chain, and into the corner of my dad’s eye. Right away he shut the saw off and fell to his knees. This happened often, but usually the thing worked its way out or I was able to remove the wood from his eyes, but this was different. The piece of wood had broken off a large knot in the tree, making it sharp and as hard as a rock. Blood began to ooze from my dad’s eye and I knew that he needed medical attention.

Trouble was, we were over three miles from the road, and twenty six miles from the town where we lived. The only transportation home was the ATV, whose ride was rough. Still, I knew what I had to do.

I covered my dad’s eye with a large bandage, hooked his arm around my neck, and the two of us started for the road. To make matters worse, the once clear sky began to cloud over, and in minutes everything went dark grey. In no time at all the rain started to pour, making the walk slippery and dangerous. Still, we kept going, mostly because we had no choice.

I could have walked to the next wood site and got help, but that was some six miles deeper into the country, precious time could be wasted and my dad could virtually lose his eye in the process. With my dad on one side of me, getting weaker with each step; and the slippery black mud now soaked with water, I carefully watched my step and tried to avoid falling down. The walk took us three hours (it was down hill) and we were finally at the place where we parked our ATV. I got my dad to sit on the back of the bike, and wrapping a large bandage around both my dad and myself, I secured my dad to me so that he didn’t fall over. I made sure to take the smoothest route home, but with a road riddled with potholes and washouts, it wasn’t easy.

When we finally got home, I got mom to help me to get dad in the car. He had lost so much blood on the way home that he passed out on the ride home. I figured as such as he leaned very close to me and was unresponsive. When we got to the hospital the doctor got my dad in as soon as he could. We waited, terrified of the worst, and then here he was, standing in the doorway. The doctor said that when I wrapped his eye, his eye watered, causing the piece of wood to work its way out, and all he had to do was remove the bandage, and the sharp chunk of wood stuck to the bandage. He applied a dressing to my dad’s eye and he was on his way home.

My dad was (and still is) a very resilient person. In just two days, he was ready to return to the forest where we made our living. This is but one adventure in the twenty five years I worked as a logger. We were always there for each other. I miss those days, but to this day, my dad and I remain as close as we were back in the days where we worked hand in hand.

 

 

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