It's amazing how much you can accomplish with a hand saw when you're afraid of chainsaws. I'll admit it, I once again finked out on buying a chainsaw. After Christmas I decided for sure, absolutely, no excuses, I would get myself a small chainsaw, maybe in March. I would learn to run it, sharpen the chain, service the little engine, the whole shcmeer. Come April I finally took a look at them in my local Hardware Emporium, and not only did the pricesw cause shock and awe, the safety instructions added Fear. So I turned tail and left the store....
Today being breezy and cool, only about 10C, and dry, I figured it was a good day to get started on clearing my main trail.There were lots of blow-downs, proving again the law that if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, it will fall across or onto your trail.
The small birch across the trail was no problem. A few minutes with the bow saw and no more climbing over that one. The spruce across the trail was too high up to cut, but chopping off the branches that hung down meant that anyone my height or shorter can now walk right under it. If you're taller than me, just duck. Then I hit the area where a number of long-dead spruces and balsam firs had gone down like dominoes, that is, in all different directions and on top of each other. I thought it would be an awful job, but to my surprise they were crisp and the branches snapped easily when whacked with the axe. Then I sawed through the trunks and piled the debris in long rows beside where I want my trail. This is an interesting little spot, damp, with a rock wall to the north, where a number of species of Grape Ferns grow. Below it there is a fine stand of Ostrich Fern, Lady Fern, two Silvery Glade Ferns that I planted, and a few Bulblet Ferns ditto. So I wanted to be able to walk through. Other than the fact that the long spruce branches kept whipping me in the face or getting caught in my hair, it really wasn't too bad a job.
The large cedar blow-down was next and had me stumped for a bit. A large clump, seven trunks, crashed last fall. Five of the trunks went one way, two the other. Going around in either direction would have involved either wading or climbing over loose rocks.... not to mention a lot of clearing of small brush. In the end I went through the middle! Now you can walk between the two sets of up-ended roots. It's neat, you can see old blackened wood between the roots, so probably the clump developed as shoots from a tree killed by fire, and you can see the layer of topsoil, then the layer of clay, and then sand. Sort of a geology lesson!
The 10C temperature did not, unfortunately, deter the blackflies.
But you can walk all the way around again, and only have to duck once, and step over, I think three times. And it was nice and quiet and I didn't have to wear Hearing Protection or Eye Protection, or Steel-toed Boots or bring a gas can or lug a heavy machine.... there's a lot to be said for hand saws.