When my friends Phil & Julie Gardner used to live in Indiana, there home was tucked away south of Indianapolis is a beautiful wooded area near Martinsville. They called their home the Waydownback and it was frequently the jumping off point for our weekend adventures in the hills of southern Indiana. Phil & Julie moved to Missoula about 7 years ago and now have a home, nestled in the pine forested mountains, about 30 minutes south of Missoula...they've affectionately named their Lolo, Montana home the Wayhiup.
The Wayhiup sits atop a ridge and is surrounded by both logged and unlogged forest. Their land butts up against land owned by the timber conglomerate Plum Creek. Because of the reforestation methods of logging companies, fast growing and invasive species of pine have crept onto the Gardner property and they let some of their friends come up each year to help thin away trees that crowd out the native trees. This year, I got invited and it was a super fun time.
I arrived mid-afternoon and was met by Julie, with some advice on where to find good trees and instructions on what type could be cut. Julie and Melanie even showed me to a promising clump of trees. I hiked around, staying near the house for awhile and then slowly drifting off into the backwoods. It was very peaceful and quiet, with a slight wind keeping me just cold enough to remember winter is here. I found a tree that looked just right, about the right height and fairly full. Unlike farmed trees, the trees out in the forest aren't shaped and can seem a bit Charlie Brown-ish. I cut the tree down and dragged it back to my car, where I used some twine to get the tree ready for the highway drive back to Missoula.
After warming my belly with some of the best chili I've had and getting in some good conversation with the other folks who'd made the journey, I headed back to town and started decorating my
Christmas Tree, what a blast the whole experience was...I can't wait to finish my tree this weekend.