One of the coolest projects I got to do here at John Muir National Historic Site was dismantle a tree at the visitor center that was in the way of a future exhibit being built. I hadn’t ever done something like this before so it was a completely new learning experience and very exhilarating. Incidentally, my mentor Keith Park is super obsessed with time lapse videos so he set up a few devices around the work site and recorded everything that happened from the moment we got there, and the resulting video is how it turned out.
The technique that I used to take this tree down is called spiking. Spiking is only ever used for taking a tree down in this manner because these little tools that you wear over your boots called spikes create holes and tears through the bark of the tree as you go up, down and around the tree and as a result tear up the cambium, ultimately causing its death. We knew that this method would be a lot better than just felling the tree because of the many things the tree could hit on its way down. We had to think about the visitor center, benches, the peach orchard, a fence, and a ton of other obstacles that were subject to be smashed if we weren’t careful enough. If we insisted on felling this tree we would have had to have been extremely precise in everything we did, and I definitely don’t have that kind of skill yet. Though I did try my hand at felling when all the limbs were off and there wasn’t any chance I was going to hit something important or otherwise. That didn’t go very well, but I knew what I did wrong and what I’d change in the future. If I had a choice though, I’d spike rather than fell, I had so much fun, and while it was a little more different than I was anticipating, I can’t wait to get back up and do it again.