Thursday, August 11, 2016

Rollaway Blues, or Logs don't Love your Lunch

It's been a busy month for blowdowns and cutting brush on local trails.  The weather Sunday was a little better than Saturday's humid air so we headed up to Round Hill Road to clear some larger logs crossing the Paugussett Trail.

The Round Hill Rd. entrance was grown in with briars, and will have to be cleared again.  It's been cleared twice this year, but with all the rain briars keep on growing in sunny places.  The trail was clearer about 50 feet into the woods.  The first blowdown was an older log that was partially rotten and slightly off the ground.  These look easy but they can pinch the bar on your chainsaw when they are partially cut, and then you need a second, or in some cases, a third chainsaw to cut them free.

The Culprit; passable, but a little awkward to step over.
Earlier this summer I was able to attend one of CFPA's chainsaw safety workshops for trail volunteers and learned some new tricks for safer trail work.  One cut was the Roll Away cut for freeing logs like this using only 1 chainsaw instead of 3.  You angle the cuts outward toward the downhill side, use wedges to keep the kerf open, and the log should roll away as you finish the bottom cuts.  It's all outlined in this Forest Service Manual on how to cut trees.

Here's the log partially cut with the wedges in place.

And Whoah-lah, the log rolls away without pinching the saw at the end, and the trail is clear.  Buoyed by my new found logging expertise, I went on to cut other stuff until I neared the junction with the Birchbank Loop.
This log was marked for clearing for awhile and was more awkward to step over.  So I put down my pack containing my gas, tools, and lunch.  Put on my safety gear, got out the wedges, hatchet, planned my cuts, started the saw, made the cuts, set the wedges, completed the cuts, shut off the saw, kicked the log, yelled Take That, and watched the log roll away.  A split second later I realized it was rolling straight for my pack that I had carefully left out of the work zone, downhill of the log.

Trail Safety Tip;  A boulder or log wants to stay anchored to the earth.  When dislodged or cut they tend to develop a stubborn will of their own, and unlike Jordan Spieth yelling at his golf ball, no amount of yelling at a rolling log will make it stop, sit, or turn. 

Well the log went up and over the pack and tools before coming to rest downhill.  Luckily the gas bottle, cell phone, tools, and camera were OK. My Keebler peanut butter crackers and lunch fared worse and were flattened.  This was very disappointing because I was looking forward to lunch after finishing this log.

I then finished cutting up the log and sucking down my cracker crumbs.  The moral of the story is to look out below before you cut something and try to envision unexpected consequences, which in this case I should of expected, but CFPA never mentioned lunch safety protocols during the chainsaw workshop, so I think this is all their fault. Or not.

Thanks to the guys who cleared the Tahmore Trail blowdowns.  If you can come to our work party on Lane Street this Saturday and help us cut brush along the RecPaths - no chainsaws so you should be safe.  Bring water, lots of water in this heat.  Have fun on the trails

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