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One of the world's craziest professions

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Home inspection is right up there, but how about tree topping?

This guy is working on a high clay bank about 150 feet above the beach. The cluster of trees is unstable and ready to topple into the ocean. They picked the first windy day to get 'er done. He never shut the saw off. He limbed and dropped two trees in about an hour and a half.

I took the pics from my deck, but too bad I used my old Nikkon with the purple tint.

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When I worked in forestry I got to watch them limb and top old growth douglas fir and cedar for heli-logging. That is an insane way to earn $200 a day, maybe a bit more now.

You climb tree #1, limbing as you go up the trunk. You are packing ropes and a grapple hook, safety vest stuffed full of gear and of course a chainsaw on a rope. When you get to where you have the butt log limbed, you top the tree and let the top fall wherever, it's waste. Then you notch the top of the trunk to hold your long rope. You swing your grapple hook over to the next tree about 20 feet away. With the hook set in the limbs of tree #2, you swing over to it. Pull your safety line down off #1 and start limbing #2.

These guys can go for hours without coming down, except when the next tree is too far away to snag with the grapple hook. A guy on the ground can send gas and oil up to them. It is truly amazing.

After topping, the trunk of the tree is left standing with wedges and just an inch of holding wood. The big Zigorsky Air Crane comes along a few days later with nobody on the hill to get hurt, maybe just a spotter with a radio. The chopper pilot hovers while a grapple operator in the belly snags the top of the tree. They snap it off and hopefully have enough power to lift and swing the log out to a landing.

That is how they can cream a setting, only taking the prime wood, and not have to pay engineers and crews to build roads. The young guys swinging thru the trees make it all possible. It's a crazy business.

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Hee, hee,

You just reminded me of the time I took down a tree for my Mom. I was stationed at Ft. Bragg going through the Q course at the time studying to be an 18C. I went up to Virginia beach on a weekend to visit my mom. She had a 150ft. tall oak tree in her front yard that was dumping a ton of sap and pollen on her house and blocking out the sunlight. She told me she was saving up to get it removed. Me, the smartass that I am and as always over-confident I said, "No problem, Mom. I'll take it down for you.

So, I trotted down to the nearest Hertz rental and rented some climbing spikes and a chainsaw and went down to the nearest sports shop and purchased some climbing rope. Then I rigged up a repel harness with a rope end, strapped on those spikes and climbed that damned tree using some of that rope as a loop around the trunk and to pull up the chainsaw and lower it.

I got up near the top, topped it and then worked my way down the trunk removing limbs as I went and topping sections of trunk as I passed. Then I goofed up. I pruned one long heavy limb off and as it separated the saw caught with my hand in the crotch of a limb below it and that limb I'd just cut off dropped straight down and trapped my right wrist in that crotch. So, there I was, 20ft. off the ground with my right wrist pinned in that crotch and my free hand on the other side of a 30-inch wide trunk. Worse, my mother had gone to the market and there was nobody within earshot.

I damned near slipped and fell twisting myself around to get my left hand under that limb and get ahold of that chainsaw. Then I had to wedge it against the trunk of the tree with my left knee while I pulled the starter rope with my left hand. Then I had to lift that saw up one-handed, cross over and twist around to remove most of that limb that had trapped my wrist left-handed with only one hand (I'm right-handed). I swear, I was deadly afraid that damned saw would kick back and take half my head off before it trottled down, but somehow I pulled it off and the majority of that limb fell away leaving me with a 40lb piece of wood still trapping my wrist. That was enough. I got my left hand under the end wedged in the crotch above my wrist and then used both arms to lift it up and out to free myself. Then I climbed down and went inside for a cold drink and to kick myself in the ass.

I managed to remove all of the limbs from the trunk and drop the last 10ft. section into the yard leaving a big stump before I had to leave and return to Ft. Bragg. I didn't have time to cut up those limbs. I didn't have to. The next afternoon one of my mother's neighbors came by and asked what she intended to do with all of that beautiful oak in her front yard - especially those nice long sections of thick trunk. She told him she was going to have some kid come by and cut it up for firewood. He begged her not to do that and then paid her $500 for the wood and he removed 100% of it from her yard. Apparently, he had a woodworking shop in his garage and he wanted to get those logs milled into boards and get them kiln dried for some of his wood projects.

She made $500 and never knew about the fix her lame-brained over-confident son had gotten himself into.



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