Across the River

Looking downriver from the southern end of my new beach
Looking downriver from the southern end of my new beach

Sunday, May 24, 2020

I had planned to head out to River Song last night after our kayak trip, but I got home after 10:00 p.m. It just didn’t make sense to leave that late and arrive around midnight; I might as well get a good night’s sleep at home first. And, I’m glad I did. I woke up a little after dawn, filled up the gas tank, and hit the road. Cops were out in force, and those not paying attention to their speed were easy pickings. I behaved.

My cabin, from across the riverI decided to do a little exploring before pulling into my driveway. I had studied the area on Google Maps a few days previously and discovered the road crossed the river a few miles upstream of me. In addition, other tributaries joined at various locations, and I wanted to see what these looked like and whether they might be navigable by kayak. Also, I wanted to see if I could pick up cell phone signal. The previous weekend, I had had to drive all the way to town before I could pick up signal, even though my cell phone provider’s map showed coverage in my area.

I found the tributaries, and although they looked interesting, none looked navigable. The river, however, might be, although it is significantly smaller where it intersects the road. I was surprised to see how much smaller because it’s not that far up the road. However, I can’t see the tributaries on the other side of the river; they could be a lot bigger. It’s hard to tell looking at Google Maps.

And, I did find several signal hot spots, including one only about a half mile from my cabin. Not that I need to use technology when I’m out here, but it is good knowing where these are in case I need to make a call or check on something.

Unslaughtered treeAs I pulled into my driveway, I noticed my neighbor had not leveled it. I wasn’t really surprised. We’re all busy. Sometimes, time can get away from us, or other things come up, or we just forget. I’m glad I spent the time last week clearing the roots and stumps. And, it’s actually not that bad now. It might be possible for me to finish leveling it by hand.

But, my first task, even before unloading my camping gear, was playing with my new chainsaw. Ha ha ha ha! I grabbed it and headed for the north end. I had some cedar logs just waiting to be slaughtered!

My new chainsaw cut through the log like butter. I did have to roll it a bit because it was wider than my 14″ blade, but it was still easy enough to cut. Fortunately, I had had the tree trimmer cut the cedar trunk to about 6′ lengths to make it easier to handle.

The far side of the river is steep, slippery clayI cut one log into about five pieces, and then packed up my gear and headed down to the river. I wanted to tackle that tree that had fallen across the river before my battery wore out. Besides, I could cut these logs anytime. The tree across the river, not so much.

The tree was still clinging to life, with a full head of new branches and leaves. These were easily reachable from the shore. I tackled them first with my clippers, leaving only the larger trunk. Before tackling the trunk, I changed into my water shoes so I could wade into the river. I waded in carefully, cognizant of the slippery river rocks. The water was cold and swift, but not very deep. Again, my new chainsaw sliced easily through the larger branches, and I pulled the logs aside for firewood.

When I had reduced the tree to just a trunk, I waded further out, closer to the roots. The river was really swift here, but the water came only slightly above my knees, so it still wasn’t too deep. Slaughtered treeHowever, the far bank was all thick, slippery clay. There was no way I could get close to the roots, but I could get close enough to significantly reduce the amount it stuck out into the river. My saw sliced into the trunk, deeper and deeper, and then…

Battery died.


I had only one battery for this saw. At $159 a pop–only $40 “cheaper” than the chainsaw, battery, and charger package together–I had only the one.

I knew my little 18V chainsaw would not be able to tackle this. I would have to wait until next weekend to finish the job. Fortunately, it was cut only about 2/3 of the way through. It might hold until then, provided we don’t get any significant rainstorms. And, if we did, I’d just have to deal with it.

Looking upstream toward the beach on the cabin side of the riverI set my chainsaw on the beach with the rest of my tools, and wandered down toward the southern end, checking it out. When I purchased this property last summer, this area was divided into three islands. And, over the winter, record rainfall raised the river level and, combined with the log jam upstream, moved rock and sediment from the far bank, depositing it on this side. What had been a small point jutting out is now a long spit running almost the entire length of my property, with the northern creek on one side and the river on the other. I’ve never been able to walk this far south.

I walked in the river parallel to the far bank, looking for an exit point. Everything was clay and too steep to climb. Suddenly, I spotted a place that might do. A small, sandy beach, hardly a yard wide, gently sloping into the river. And, on my property. I carefully checked it out. No clay! It was totally doable! And, at this point in the river, the water level was below my knees all the way across. Woohoo!

The little access beach on the far side of the riverI finally stood on the other side of my property!

I turned around to see where I was in relation to the zip line. It was just a little north of me. I could see it heading into the trees to the top of the bluff on this side. I was close!

I looked for my cabin. It was directly across from me. How had I not been able to see this little beach? I guess I hadn’t paid attention to it because of the big ugly log that lay across it, jutting out into the river. I should be able to chop that up with my chainsaw. If I had a battery. But, it wasn’t very big. I could climb over it if it weren’t for the devil’s club that surrounded it.

I debated calling it a day and heading back to my cabin, but it was only 3:00. Still plenty of daylight left! But, did I want to tackle that brush? This side was as wild and tangled with underbrush as the other side had been when I purchased it.

Tools on a logCuriosity got the better of me. I waded back to the other side, loaded up my tools in my tactical daypack, and waded across again. The devil’s club on this side was more than ten feet high–the tallest I’d ever seen! And I had to clear about twenty feet of it before I could even climb over the log and up the bank.

My machete and clippers made quick work of the devil’s club. I cut it as far down to the roots as I could and threw everything in a pile next to the log. Within a few minutes, I was able to step over, and then climb up the bank. The devil’s club thinned, with other, less obnoxious plants taking its place.

After a short climb, the bluff flattened out to a small, heavily wooded area filled with massive clover and trillium and piles of deadfall. It would take a lot of work to clear the deadfall, but then this would be a great camping area. The ground was nice and soft, and the trees provided a lot of privacy.

Stand of massive devil's clubI made my way past rotting tree trunks, following the zip line above me, to the end of the flat area. A bluff rose high above me, with the zip line disappearing over the top. Deadfall covered the slightly sloped bluff, and a pile of logs lined the top. If not for the pile of logs at the top, the slope would have been climbable. However, I could not see over it.

I walked around for a bit, looking for a way up, but couldn’t find anything. I would have to come back with my chainsaw and start clearing some of this. But, for the first time, I was able to set foot on my property on this side of the river.

I explored for a bit, and then packed up my tools and headed back. I was really happy. I finally made it to the other side of the river! I may not have made it to the end of my zip line yet, but I was closer!

Massive trillium on the far side of the riverI spent the rest of the evening relaxing at my cabin. I organized things a bit more and put in another shelf and some hooks to hang my pans. Each time I come out, I make a few more improvements.

Memorial Day was all rain. I didn’t have anything more that needed to be done, so I finished reading my book and watched a few movies on my iPad. It was nice just to be able to relax. I would have stayed over until Tuesday morning, but I ran out of water. D’oh! I need to build a rainwater catchment system.

But, that will be a project for another day.

Cabin from across the river
Cabin from across the river