McCall Stories and Tips

Playing Lumberjack in Idaho!

Getting ready to chop wood. Photo, McCall, Idaho

I live in a very rural area in central Idaho. There are only 138 people in my adopted home of Donnelly and 2,000 in McCall, 17 miles north of Donnelly. Most everyone here in the McCall/Donnelly area relies on wood or pellet stove heat in the winter time because electric heat is very expensive and we do not get paid enough to cover our bills. Last winter, I heard one man had a $400 electric/heating bill one month. Many people here get heating assistance from WICAP (Western Idaho Cooperative Assistance Program), but most get a logging permit in order to chop wood in the Payette National Forest every fall. My family and I are among the many amateur lumberjacks who go out into the woods every September to find dead trees suitable for chopping and putting into our woodstove every winter. My Dad is our resident logging engineer, and this September, I was with him chopping wood and loading our trucks. We went wood cutting at Tamarack Falls near Donnelly and Hazard Lake near McCall and New Meadows. Dad chops the tree down with his chainsaw, and I yell TIMBER! Then I mark the fallen tree with a crayon, and Dad chops it into rounds that will be split later with a splitter. We then load the wood into our trucks and go onto the next tree.

When I tell my friends in Rhode Island and my Nana that I go into the woods to chop wood, they say "Ladies should not be doing that kind of work!" I have to tell them "Hey, besides Dad, there is not any hunky guy or boyfriend to chop wood for Mom and me!" We have no choice to do it, and besides, Mom and I love going out into the woods to enjoy the beautiful scenery that Hazard Lake and the other areas have to offer. You breathe God''s good air and take down trees that could be a fire hazard the next summer when it is dry and hot.

And yes, I know how to use an ax and a maul, which is a heavy wedge shaped ax that is used to split rounds and hard wood.

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