Rigging Shack Classic
This column originally appeared in the August 1973 edition of Loggers World.
Didn't get a whole lot accomplished today. Went upriver fifty miles to the log dump at Van Dyke. On the way had a flat tire. Since I did not want to journey around too much without a spare, visited this one log dump and some highway logging and returned to camp. Have another spare at camp.
Got here just in time to help my wife keep the whole outfit from blowing away. Yesterday had got busy and, using my vast store of engineering knowledge, put up a ten by twelve tarp as a fly over the table and things. When I got back to camp the wind threatened to pick up this fly and go away with it. I jumped in with ropes and orders, and ran around like I knew what was going on. I fixed it so good that the ridgepole, a ten foot spruce two by four, came down and hit my wife on the side of the head. Bent up her eyeglasses and fetched her an ambitious wallop. Now she is in bed and I don't know whether she'll come out to cook supper or not.
P.S. Besides that, the dog came up lame today too. Now I have to lift her in and out of the pick-up. Had to be the bigger dog of the two, didn't it?
One day discovered that it was Friday morning. We had been gone from the office for two weeks. The crew back at home had in this time got the special "TIMBER CUTTERS" printed and mailed out. They had got the July Loggers World printed and were busy mailing it out. The feeling of urgency had descended upon my being one more time.
I had several thoughts and some plans for the upcoming weekend. As I sat and ate a delicious batch of French toast with bacon on the side (just a normally excellent breakfast that my wife creates on a campfire) I planned the coming day.
At the same time I sort of suspicioned that I was kidding myself. Thoughts kept intruding, thoughts like; "Got to get these 20 plus rolls of film back so that John (darkroom man par excellence) can develop the film and make me contact sheets." And, "Next week is the last week we can get anything done this month". And, "week after next we shall be shut down and the crew will be on vacation."
Even though these thoughts were flitting around I did go out and finish up some details that needed doing. Plans were forming to get in a good day and pack up everything that evening.
By four in the afternoon we were on our way. This means we tore down the camp, loaded the pick-up and trailer, battened down all hatches and tied back the loose ends. We were rolling towards home, which was about 1100 miles off in that direction.
I had been a bit worried about loading the camper back on the pick-up with our barely adequate camper jacks. Camper was on a slope and this compounded the problem. But it went slicker than goose grease on a hot rock.
I hadn't worried about backing the trailer down the chute on the narrow brush lined trial so that we could expedite the loading of a million items of gear, so had a lot of trouble there. The thing is that while backing the trailer with the camper on the pick-up had missed the road (trail?) about two feet to the north. Couldn't go ahead because that was uphill. Had to stop and tear down the tent and do a lot of loading because it was all in the way. Figured that I'd had room enough to come back and get straightened out and come ahead. Better work that way because there was no one, no one at all, available for pulling us out.
One of the things I had built at our camp that was a source of pride and satisfaction to me was our outdoor fireplace. I had hauled some of the rock in that superior fire pit some fifty miles. Unfortunately the trailer bumped into it and scattered rocks and fire more than a little bit. After putting the fire out had to tear down the fireplace and throw the carefully selected rocks into a pile. Then with no further trouble we were out and on our way.
We deliberately wasted time going out. We had about 25 miles to go to the junction and then 52 miles from the junction to Kitwanga, all on private road. Didn't want to meet a flock of those big trucks coming at us on some narrow stretch with us dragging a trailer. Made it to the junction with only one hold up. After progressing about ten miles a four wheel drive pick-up with three young loggers inside passed us. They were in a hurry-going home after a week in the woods. Fifteen miles later we met them parked along the road. Jakubowski Contracting had loaded and shot a wall of rock alongside the road about 10 minutes before we got there. There D-9 Cat came along and soon had a road thru the shot rock for us. While waiting found the three young fellows had their own outfit, logged for Twin Rivers and their logs went to the States.
We made the drive slowly and carefully. Got to Kitwanga and then had thirty more miles of county road, most of it worse than the Colcel private road, to get to the Yellowhead Highway and on the blacktop.
On the way up the Yellowhead road, coming in, we had stopped for lunch at a combination motel and restaurant. We had remembered it as not being very far away. After we hit the blacktop and headed east we hungrily watched for this particular motel. We kept driving and it kept getting later and later and after about three hours and over a hundred miles, there it was. They had a vacancy, but the restaurant was closed. Enjoying the luxury of the motel and hot water and bath tub and flushing sanitation system, we enjoyed a belated supper of cheese and crackers from our own stores.
Next morning pushed on, thru Prince George and a rainstorm at 1:00p.m., headed downhill on Highway 97. At Prince George called friends to have lunch with us but no contact.
Wanted to stop and contact Max Searls at Williams Lake. Max logged for years in Washington State out of Toutle. Bought some property in British Columbia, moved his family up there over a year ago and is now working on his place out of Williams Lake. Only thing wrong is that the weather was really rainy, looked like a Pacific Coast rainstorm. Decided that Max wouldn't like company in this weather and pushed on. Got home handily on Sunday afternoon and started unpacking goods. Brought back a lot of B.C. dust and pounds of their special mud.
Fine trip filled with beautiful scenery and meeting lots of good, friendly logging men. Would like to do it all again. And will-sometime.
Those people who think the days of logging camps are gone, ought to visit the Nass River. At the mouth of the Nass, in Iceberg Bay, is a logging camp. Across the river and upriver is the Portier Logging Company Camp. Farther upstream is the Skoglund Logging Company Camp. Then next, on the south side of the Nass, is a camp for Tower Logging Company. Farther upstream, and all on the south side, is the Twin Rivers Kseaden Camp and next is the big main Nass Camp. About 25 miles upstream from the Nass Camp is one for Williamson Logging Co. Another ten miles and you come to one for a construction company. Go upstream another 25-30 miles and you come to the camp owned and operated by Hal Timber Limited. Even then I don't think that's all of them. Just all of them I know about.
This area, the Nass River drainage, has a tremendous potential. Hardly been touched. Needs road and railroads. Lots of timber and minerals. Timber over ripe and about 100 years late in harvesting. Big potential for timber harvesting and raising timber at same rate. Plans call for small sawmills, better roads, a railroad and more people. Tremendous possibilities for a big recreation business. Exciting, Growing, Doing!
Now it is possible to leave Terrace, going generally northward, and go all the way thru the Cassiar country and hit the Yukon highway at Watson Lake. Most of the roads are private but they will be open to the public one day.
Thru this area was where the first telegraph line was laid out to Siberia. Also thru this area is a trail known as the "Grease Trail". Was told that it got its name because the Coast Indians caught the oily fish known as hooligans. They rendered out the oil and took it upstream as far as they could go and then overland on a trail and traded with the inland Indians. So that trail became known as the Grease Trail.
Was also told the Indian people here are of the Nishga tribe. Many of them work in the woods and on the river. The ones I met are fine and courteous people. There are several good sized Indian towns or villages around and about. Greenville, Canyon City and Aiyansh (pronounced I-anch) to name a few. There are and were actually three Aiyansh villages. The first one was down along the river on flat ground. It got flooded out. It was rebuilt on higher ground but this also got flooded out. They moved the town again, this time to the other side of the river and up on mighty high ground. Some people now live in Old Aiyansh and some in New Aiyansh.
Close to New Aiyansh is the famous big lava bed. They tell me this overflow of hot lava came about three hundred years ago and destroyed an Indian village. Covers a lot of territory and most of it doesn't raise a blade of grass. Other areas have some shrubs on them, and a coating of soft moss. Maybe in another three hundred years the silt and leaf mold will put a layer of soil on top of the lava bed and it will be hidden.
Then people will come and live on it. They'll be surprised when they go to drill a well.
The way you look at it!
A trucker will look at a hill and estimate the gear he’d use to pull the hill when loaded; as a pilot flies along he’s keeping an eye on the open fields and will calculate how he’d land his plane in it if he had too; a faller will glance at a tree and note the lean and the side the limbs are heavy on; the bucker needs only a glimpse of a tree on the ground to calculate how many logs in in it and where the bind is and what cut he’d make first; a hook tender needs a few seconds to look over a setting to decide on his yarder setting and where the tree should be and where he’d start logging.
I guess it’s the mark of the professional that makes them look at things in regard to their work and how they’d tackle the job. For instance a climber and a faller will look at the same tree and be looking for different things. They see what they are trained to see.
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