Spring has Sprung!

Wildflowers decorate the forest service fire road behind us.

While progress on building plans continues to be frustratingly slow, Nature has been much better about not slipping her schedule.

I was able to spend a good part of the Memorial Day weekend at the property.  It started out damp and drippy but ended as an absolutely beautiful late Spring weekend.

The view south from the Trestlewood Chalet deck.  Note the contrast between the bright green, living trees and the brown oaks behind, which did not survive.
It looks like the Rhododendrons are enjoying the lack of competition.
Native wildflower seeds that my brother scattered across the hillside have established themselves.
Even the driveway was sporting some Spring finery
Morning drizzle has accentuated the contrast between blackened Manzanita and bright wildflowers.
The vast majority of the new wildflowers were these yellow and blue varieties. Anyone care to identify them for me?
On the other hand, these California Poppies are easy for me to identify.
This is the hillside just north and west of our property

It is odd to see a landscape that had been only last year completed covered with Manzanita and Bear Clover, now exposed as a barren, rocky slope.

In this view north you can clearly see the transition from ground fire to crown fire, now visible as the transition from bright green to black and brown.
Another view, this one looking east, showing the trees that survived below, and above them those that did not.
A morning view south. The Railroad Fire started just over that cloudy ridge, not more than a few hundred yards away from here.
Bear Clover is taking hold again, helping to stabilize the steep slope above the area where the railroad-tie retaining wall used to be.

As I explored the area above the property I came across many yellow and black signs on National Forest land, all of which marked a “Sale Area Boundary.”

This view look North, from the fire road, near where the Sea Train container used to sit.  The boundary between our property and National Forest land runs down the middle of the dirt road.
A closeup view of one of the signs.
These signs are adjacent to the forest service gate at the southern edge of our property.

For a moment I thought that perhaps the Forest Service was planning to sell  (!!) this portion of the National Forest. But soon enough I realized that they are not selling the land, they are selling the timber.  It is likely that many, if not most, of the dead trees on the National Forest lands around our property will soon be harvested as salvage timber.  They are already doing this along Hwy 41 on the way up to Fish Camp.

Time Out to Explore

On Sunday, the drizzle was gone and the weather turned absolutely beautiful.  After a trip into Fish Camp, I took the opportunity to drive back by way of the forest service fire road.

It is barely recognizable!  Instead of a secluded road through dense forest, now it is open and exposed.  Along much of it you can easily see the traffic on Hwy 41 below.

This is the east side of the former Happy Camp clearing. Many trees are still standing, but nearly every one of them is dead.
And this is the view to the West. This was the target practice area where our kids used to collect lead slugs.
This is what it looks like to drive down the fire road, through the “forest.”
But all along the road, the scorched forest floor is now blanketed with this bright green and orange ground cover. The recovery has begun!
Back to Work

Oh yes, we did get some work on the property.  For instance we  have repaired the winter’s erosion damage near the two large Ponderosa pine stumps.

Unfortunately nearly every tree on the Logger’s Retreat property is dead, like the ones still standing in this picture.
Here you can see the early stages of our efforts to line the edge of this section of the driveway with large boulders. The challenge here is to make sure they don’t get away from you … and roll down the hill. (!!)

On the following weekend we returned with  another large (rented) excavator to do some heavier landscape work.  For instance, we used it to take out one of those two Ponderosa stumps.

Here you can see the excavator digging a hole around the tree stump. That pile of dirt in the photo just came out of that hole.
Here is the stump, now removed. It was larger than the excavator’s cab!
Here’s another view of the stump. Note that the root ball was larger than the exposed portion of the stump!
And finally — a new gate across our new driveway!
Oh, About Those Plans…

The construction plans were (for the most part) finished and submitted last week .(Yay!) Current estimates are that it will take at least a month for the county building department to review and approve them.

I have asked for bids from several contractors.  By now any possibility of having a house completely built before Winter is long gone.  Now our hope is to have at least one, if not both structures roughed in and sealed up before the snow flies (November).   Meeting that challenge will be a big factor in our decision of who gets the job.