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Owner’s Manual Host Blog – Ed Sanders on Logging

Owner’s Manual co-host Ed Sanders discusses his behind-the-scenes experience logging in Oregon.

London, England is a concrete jungle. The last time someone saw a tree was back in the last millennium, around 1066 A.D. I believe it was King Harold II, just before he was killed by William the Conqueror’s army, who said at the time to his royal aide, “My dear humble servant, what is that thing way over there on the horizon?” The royal aide replied, “That would be what the kids nowadays are calling a tree!”

I would not lie to you, my friends. That is written somewhere in a book that they stopped printing some time ago and that I was once told about in a pub by a drunk guy’s fiancée’s sister.

It has to be true… There aren’t any trees in London. The first tree I ever saw was when me and me old China, Marcus, took up this challenge in Oregon where they grow trees like London grows concrete. Seriously, I have never seen so many trees in one place at one time. What’s even cooler is the fact that for every tree the company we worked with cut down, a new one was automatically planted! Great stuff, eh?

Well, Marcus told me on the drive to our meeting spot that this particular challenge would involve us taking trees that had already been cut down and bringing them up to the area where the trucks pick them up, which is called the landing. “Bring them up with what?” I asked. “Our shoulders?” The look on Marcus’ face was priceless as he proceeded to tell me that these logs weigh up to 20,000 lb. I never had the heart to tell him I was being sarcastic!

Marcus mentioned that the actual machine they use is called a yarder. It’s basically a 100 ft high pole about three ft in diameter and attached to a massive 18-wheel trailer that is anchored to the top of a hill with a dozen 1.5 inch thick steel cables. From the top of this 100 ft high pole is another 1.5 inch thick steel cable that spans an entire valley, which can be any distance up to 2,000 ft long. But that’s not all: Marcus said, attached to that cable is a machine called a sky carriage that basically drives back and forward with the help of the yarder. This sky carriage weighs around 7,000 lb, and its job is to pull up the logs that get attached to it from the valley floor. Once the logs are attached and dangling in the air, the yarder then pulls the sky carriage and its log load, which can be up to 30,000 lb, all the way back to the landing!

If you’re reading this and you’ve understood that last paragraph, well done. You’re smarter than me, coz. I was confused beyond belief listening to Marcus!

We pulled up our car, got out, and made our way up to the landing area where we nearly got knocked flat by a massive excavator holding onto a 15,000 lb log. The driver and foreman was a guy called Jimbo, and we were there specifically to meet him, Riley and Zach. We met up with the lads and Jimbo then told us what our main challenge would be. Basically we had to bring up ten logs from the valley floor in 40 minutes.

I was raring to go, but Jimbo was having none of it and said before he would even think about letting us loose on his equipment, we’d have to prove we knew our way around this kind of machinery. He wanted us to take charge of his excavator and pick up four logs, then stack them log-cabin style: Basically put two down together then place two more on top perpendicular, kinda like Lincoln Logs.

Needless to say, we rocked the first challenge, which allowed us to tackle the monster main challenge (a completely different beast that drained the living daylights out of the both of us). I have never felt so drained in my life. No joke!

As usual, our film crew were monsters in their own way as they trekked up and down snow-covered, tree-fallen mountains of sheer hell, all the while carrying their equipment. I really can’t do it justice, trying to explain how cold and how hard it was to just walk 20 ft when you’re on a mountain that’s at a 60-degree angle. The crazy thing is guys like Jimbo, Riley and Zach do this for a living all year long. It is by far one the most dangerous jobs I’ve ever tackled, and I think I can speak for Marcus too! Thanks to the whole logging crew for letting us be a part of their lives for a couple of days. Cheers lads. Stay safe and be lucky!

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