Friday, July 11, 2008
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My crew has been pulled from the Alberta contract, where the trees are dissapearing quickly, and moved back to the Williams Lake area for 800,000 summer trees with Tolko. We are now a camp of about twenty, headed by two crew bosses, living in Cabins and cooking for ourselves.
We are staying at the Crooked Lake Resort, a small fishing getaway far from everything. It is owned by a woman named Sandy and her family, who traded in their city life for something a bit more relaxing. A few of us have taken to paying Sandy to cook for us in the evenings, and her dinners have been great - there is something special about being indoors around a dinner table and lifting bottles of red wine off of a table cloth after a day of planting. Our spirits get high: the conversations are good.
About an hour east of Horsefly, our blocks are wedged into the Cariboo mountains at altitudes above five thousand feet.
On day one of our first shift here we pulled up alongside a peice of a land that was steeper than a double black diamond and covered with large logs and grass. I let out a "holy shit," thinking 'how could a person walk on this let alone plant it?' and Cam told me that this was our block. We scaled a series of switchbacks before getting out and doing our pre-work.
It rains daily, the bugs are as bad as they have been all season, and the steeps and slash cause near-hourly slips and falls. The smart planters have bought spike boots. I haven't had a real day off for two weeks, and am on my third rotation of the same four pairs of socks.
I ask Cam how this kind of land compares with what he has seen on the coast. "There is nothing that compares with the coast. Picture this with way more slash."
I have never planted on the coast, but hear of tree prices upwards 30 cents. The coast is where the most experienced planters go. I ask Cam if he thinks I could make it on the coast, if I should try to get a job out there, and he says "it is the final peice of your game. You'll feel like a rookie again, but when you figure it out..."
'Do you think my trees are good enough?'
'You are a hard worker and you want to do a good job, so I don't think you'd have too much of a problem.'
When I was cut into the block on day two I could not see my peice from the road.