Monday, December 13, 2010

Finally Filled a Tag

I finally filled a tag this year! With a zip tie in hand, I tagged a nice Abies Procera, more commonly known as the Noble Fir.

Every year the USDA Forest Service offers Christmas tree permits for $5. I always wanted to try “the Griswold family Christmas tree” outing, but procrastination gets the best of me year after year and I usually end up getting a tree from a local U-cut.

We loaded the truck Sunday afternoon; a good handsaw, warm clothes, water and survival gear. We stopped at the Estacada ranger station to purchase a permit for the Mt. Hood National Forest.

The ranger gave us a topo map of the area, pointing out units where he saw good Douglas and Noble fir trees. After coming up with a game plan we got in the truck and started our trek to the wilderness. I made one last call before we got out of cell service:

“Hi Mom it’s me, we are going to the Mt. Hood National Forest to get our Christmas tree. We are going to be along fire road 4016, if you do not hear from me by 9 o’clock tonight, call the search party. No, really, call the search party.”

We zigzagged what seemed like forever on logging roads. The higher up we went, the hairier the road conditions got, thank goodness for four-wheel drive! We finally made it to our location circled on our topo map. No trails and knee-deep snow, we found ourselves in a winter tree-hunting wonderland.

I realized that when at a U-cut place or a Christmas tree lot, much time is spent finding the “perfect” Christmas tree. You usually narrow it down to two or three choices and do a side-by-side comparison.

When out in the wilderness, the first one that meets your criteria is the one that gets the axe! Finding the tree is the easy part, packing it out and getting it on your vehicle is the hard part!

After setting the tree up in the house last night (it touches our 18-foot ceiling), I had a sense of pride similar to that when I hunt. I didn’t go to the store to buy my tree; I scouted in on a map, went out in the wilderness and cut it down with my two hands.

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