by Helen Lahoda
Besides the usual splendor that Montana offers, it also offers a chance to increase skill levels. Unfortunately, beetle kill has done so much damage to the lodge pole pines of the West that trees are falling over without warning, and therefore often getting hung-up. My task for the first 3 weeks of Montana was to clear trails, including the widely known Continental Divide Trail (CDT). We are not only responsible for bucking up the trees right on the trail, but also trees that will fall on the trail soon or are hung up on top of other trees over the trail.
I have been lucky enough the past few weeks to have a great chainsaw teacher. Although I have practiced taking down hang-ups in Missouri, I could continuously talk through hang-ups here in Montana, and put theory into practice. It can be daunting to have a massive snag at the will of you and your chainsaw, but getting comfortable taking down somewhat challenging trees has been one of the most rewarding things about my year in ERT.