Anatomy of a Boardwalk

As it has for the past fifteen years, a new season begins at TRL when a DCH3 Turbine Otter delivers Kev, Frances and a small crew onto the old dock, just hours after the Spring sun and warming winds have taken the ice off the lake.

Plymouth Dock

Plymouth Dock

Winter has retreated to the north of the Labrador for now, leaving only a few drifts as evidence of the vast coldness that, for eight months, covered our corner of the boreal forest. The willows and alders have yet to bud and tamarack trees have just begin to push out new needles.

Spring Thaw

Spring Thaw

Within 24 hours, Kev and the crew have the generator up and running, the water lines re-attached, and the boarding removed from the camps’ doors and windows. A tidy path is cleared through the snow drifts so supplies can be carted from the dock to the cook lodge.  Frances and Judy stock the pantry shelves and clean the kitchen areas top to bottom.

The cold winter winds have done their usual damage – rocked the cabins off their proper footings and this year, even removed a window from the four man camp.  (Better wind than bears!)

Wind and a Window

Wind and a Window

When the rest of the crew arrives a few days later, chores turn into projects. Our 2014 primary task is replacing the aging, rotting main boardwalk that connects the guest camps to the cook lodge. To its credit, it has endured fifteen years of weather extremes, thousands of foot poundings and the endless munching of the few bacteria we have up this far north.  Gone, it is, and dangerous to boot.  And so begins the task.

The Dismantling Begins

The Dismantling Begins

Dave gets it all started with the removal of the four-man connecter. Guides Anthony, Byron and Ron take to the woods in search of suitable saw logs.  They scour the far shorelines for stands of larger tamarack, fell the victims and drag them to the water’s edge. When a boat load is cut and limbed, they tether them together behind the Lund and haul them slowly up the lake and into the cove nearest the sawmill.

Ron, Byron and Anthony Drag Logs from the Forest to the Mill

Loggers Drag Butt Logs from the Forest to the Mill

Out behind the camps, the sawyers begin to move timber from the lake’s edge to the sawmill where they will be sliced into two inch slabs.

Michel and Kev Heave To

Michel and Kev Heave To

Up onto the Sawmill

Up onto the Sawmill

Slicing and Dicing the Tamarack

Slicing and Dicing the Tamarack

The new treads are cut at 2 inches thick to withstand the weather and traffic that they will endure for the next fifteen years. We have used thinner cuts in years past. Though we get more slabs per butt log, the thinner boards tend to weather and break more quickly.

Simon and John - Three Days in the Rain, Sawing Logs

Simon and John – Three Days in the Rain, Sawing Logs

New Rails, New Tamarack Treads

New Rails, New Tamarack Treads

Trans-Camp Rail-Setting

Trans-Camp Rail-Setting

A crew of eight men make tireless daily progress.  Rails are laid and leveled and the tamarack treads fitted and nailed fast. Foot by foot, the new boardwalk takes its place as the main artery of camp traffic.

Camp Dog Bear Inspects Completed Work

Bear, senior camp dog, inspects completed work

2014 is a fine year for TRL.  All the weeks are booked full and the many guests will be walking the new surfaces, stopping often to photograph sunsets, visit with one another, and take in the surrounding wildness.

Rounding the Bend

Rounding the Bend

Chalk lines are snapped along the edges of the newly laid lumber, cut-lines for the chain saw that will trim the walkway into a uniform width.  Scrap ends are collected and saved for firewood that will fuel the many wood stoves that warm the cabins.

Snow-Cooled

Snow-Cooled

Lingering snow banks chill the end-of-the-day rewards. Calloused hands grip cold cans to whet well-earned thirsts. Then dinner! And perhaps a card game if the muscles are still up to it.

After the project is complete, we stroll the new walk and take inventory.  Total of 385 boards cut from from 130 trees.  2310 nails driven. Eight men, six days – three of rain, three of sun. Project Complete! – just in time, a day before the first guests arrive.

Next years projects will include building a new dock and replacing the ‘back’ boardwalk that connects the dock with the dining lodge. How we look forward to another beginning! One board at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

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One Response to Anatomy of a Boardwalk

  1. Charley Higbee says:

    Very glad to have been a part of the 2014 season. Thanks for a terrific time and adventure! Chris was pleased to have left you with a poem about her Brookie “Fred.” We were truly blessed by our time with you.

    Charley and Chris Higbee

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