Chainsaws and Creekboats..

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We were determined to get an early run down Upper Quartzville this year, but we had heard about a large logjam blocking the road one mile downstream from the put-in. Not to be deterred, we loaded up our impressive array of log-cutting/dragging/rolling materials and headed for the hills.

After the two-hour drive we arrived at the crime scene and assessed the situation, which didn't look good. First of all, we didn't bring nearly enough beer for the job. Now, I don't actually drink beer, but it's pretty much mandatory if you are doing anything with chainsaws for a couple of reasons..

1. First and foremost, beer is a good lubricant if the bar gets stuck. Cooking oil is another environmentally friendly alternative, but generic beer is cheaper.

2. Beer can double as bar oil in a pinch, while old beer can sometimes be substituted for gasoline.

3. Pete likes beer. If you give him enough, he'll do all the really dangerous cutting.

4. Beer is a good bribe when the local poachers come down out of the woods to kill you for scaring away all the game. Poachers like beer almost as much as they like guns, and they like it even better when they can have guns and beer at the same time. Remember: A drunk poacher is a happy poacher.

Anyway, back to reality. After carefully studying the logs for about a minute, we determined that this was going to be a pretty technical cut, like maybe class IV to IV+. Five twelve to eighteen-inch diameter logs had fallen from the cliff face above onto the road, but they were all still attached by rootwads to the wall. The wall itself didn't look too stable, and the logs were extending out into space because the road drops sixty feet into the creek on the other side. The logs were under lots of tension, and the situation looked dangerous.

I was way too excited and ran over to start cutting right away, without a spotter that is an absolute requirement in such situations. One of the logs was extending about 30 feet into the gorge, and I figured I'd drop that end down into the gorge and then it would ease up some of the tension and make the rest of the cuts easier.

Of course, as soon as I cut the 30-foot end loose the whole mass of trees shifted towards me and for a second I thought I thought I was going to be ridin' the whole thing right off the edge of the cliff, but it settled down, luckily for me.

After that we stuck to our usual rules and had one spotter and one cutter, and things went more smoothly. We used the car jack to prop up the ends on the road to make cutting them a little easier, and soon enough, we had cleared out just enough to ease my little commuter car through.

Once past the logs we buzzed upstream, only to be stopped by snow on the overlook above the first rapid, known as Technical Difficulties. No worries, we hiked 100 yards upstream and put on.. It was pretty cool to be paddling Upper Q on February 29th.. that doesn't happen too often!

Pete Giordano admires his handiwork after helping to cut a path through the logjam on the access road for Upper Quartzville.. my car actually drove around the logs in the background, getting a little close to the cliff edge but not too bad..