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Getting Ready…

Last modified on 2007-04-28 06:25:00 GMT. 104 comments. Top.

Hello everyone,

This is my tree planting blog. For those who do not know, tree planting is a primarily canadian enterprise where people live for months on end in small tents(and sometimes hotel rooms) and plant tree’s all day. You are paid per tree thus you want to plant as many tree’s as possible. You wake up at 5am, put on your cold wet clothes and go eat a massive breakfast. You then walk, drive or take a helicopter to your block of land, bag up with a 100 seedlings and get to work. 10 hours later you head back to camp for another giant meal. You plant in the rain, snow and 40 degree heat. The season lasts 40 to 70 days.
Tree planting is regarded as the hardest job both mentally and physically in Canada and is on the top ten list for the same world wide.

When I first began researching tree planting I found it really difficult to find blogs. I desperately wanted to know what I was getting myself into
and ate up any and all information
I found. This is why i’ve made the decision to make this blog open to everyone instead of private or friends only. I hope to inspire or scare away people who are thinking about tree planting, entertain people with what i’m sure will be interesting stories and keep my friends and family informed with what it is I am doing.

One of the downsides to tree planting would have to be the starting costs. Usually you are not provided with anything. Here is a summary of what i’ve bought and their costs:
Tent: 250$, Sleeping Bag: 130$, Boots: 150$, Duffle Bag: 30$, Day Pack: 45$, Shovel: 60$, Planting Bags + inserts: 100$, Extra’s(duct tape, water bottles, gloves etc…): ???$.

One of the upsides to tree planting would have to be the food. According to everyone i’ve talked to, you eat better than you ever have in your life. Every camp has a handfull of cooks whose job it is to feed you as much as they can. A tree planter will burn 3000 calories a day so it’s very necessary
to get back all that energy.
For those who do not know, I am a vegan(someone who abstains from consuming or using any animal products including eggs, dairy, leather products and any animal bi-product) This will hopefully not be a problem with the cooks but i’ve had my assurances that it won’t.

Anyways, I leave for Prince George on tuesday at noon. This is looking like it will be an exciting summer and I hope you enjoy reading this blog and please leave comments or feel free to send me an email!

Scrambled thoughts

Last modified on 2007-05-01 12:08:00 GMT. 3 comments. Top.

So it’s 8am and i’m very tired. I should get used to this feeling though. I’m packed but I feel like
i’m missing 1000 things.
I know i’m only leaving for 3 months but i’m going to miss everyone so much. I’m also going to miss TWIGS and a warm bed. But i’m going to have a blast this summer and come back with tons of cash and lot’s of stories.

I’m going to listen to so much Greg Macpherson on the plane.
I leave Montreal at noon. Stay in Toronto for 2 hours and then fly to Vancouver and I finally get to Prince George at 8pm(Pacific time) From there i’m going to get picked up by my boss and then it’s off to a sketchy motel for the night. Tomorrow i’m assuming that we will be setting up camp and we will be having some sort of orientation and then on the 3rd work starts!

It’s currently 3 degress in Prince George with light snow falling. No rain in the forcast though and sunny skies for the rest of the week.

Well goodbye for now, wish me a safe flight and expect a post very soon!

I hate…

Last modified on 2007-05-02 23:46:00 GMT. 4 comments. Top.

Air Canada.

What a day I had yesterday. I left for the airport at 9am. I flew to Toronto with no problem whatsoever. In Toronto I boarded another plane at 12pm. Before leaving the pilot informed us of a mechanical error and that it would take an hour to fix. 30min later he informs us that we will now need to leave the plane because the parts needed are in another city.
So we change gates and I befriend 3 fellow planters, 2 of which are planting for the same company as me(Luke, Diane and Steph) At the new gate we are all told that the plane is smaller than the last and not everyone will get on. Luckily since our seats were near the front we got on.

As we left Toronto we passed by a hangar with a burnt up plane outside.
The upside to our new plane was that we all had TV’s in front of us. The downside was that myself and my 3 fellow planters missed our connections in Prince George. And…we all had people waiting for us at the PG airport. We decided to wait till the 10pm flight which was booked solid to see if anyone could get a seat on it. We were told to pick up our luggage and re-check it if we did get on. We were given a meal voucher aswell for 12$. We went to pick up our luggage where we were told that they would hold on to it for us and if we didn’t leave Vancouver our luggage would stay there until the next flight we could get on(this is an important part of the story.
So we ate tons of food and watched the game and everything seemed to be getting better. 10pm came along and only 2 seats were available. Diane and Luke took them and Steph and myself decided to take the free hotel room that was being offered(Travellodge) and spend the night in Vancouver. We went to pick up our luggage which should have still been in Vancouver but apon arriving at the front office we were told that our luggage was well on it’s way to Prince George!!!

Pissed as we were, we sort of laughed it off and went to the hotel. We each had a room and I quickly passed out after having spent 15hours traveling.
So we got a free supper a free breakfast and a free hotel room. not bad…

I’m in Prince George at the moment. I’m staying at the dorms at UNBC. I have the day off tomorrow, we set up camp on friday and start work on saturday. My crew looks pretty sweet and i’m excited to get started.
My camp is going to have free internet somehow so hopefully i’ll update this weekend.
Take care everyone.

First shift

Last modified on 2007-05-11 21:52:00 GMT. 139 comments. Top.

Hello everyone,

It has been a little while but i’ve almost literally been in the middle of nowhere. I’m currently in Quesnel, B.C and we are planting in a town called Nasco.
I’ve been planting for a week now and it’s my first day off. So far it’s been pretty good…I guess.

For a rookie i’m doing pretty good I think. 1200 tree’s on my second day. But our third day was hell. I woke up in the middle of the night to rain. At 5:30am when I woke up for the day the rain was just as hard. As we started making our way to the block(the area you plant) it started turning to snow. By the time we got to our block we were in the middle of a snowstorm! I planted from about 7:30am till 9am and just gave up. I finished my piece of land and went in the truck and gave up. About an hour later I was talked into going back out and start planting my new piece of land. It was fucking hell but I couldn’t help but laugh because I was in the middle of nowhere planting tree’s in a snowstorm…how ridiculous.

The mornings are really cold and my sleeping bag is really warm but once you get going it’s fine. The work is hard but not as hard as I thought. You get a flow going and it makes the day pass by really quickly.

Aswell…the food is beyond amazing! The camp cooks have made such an effort for me. It’s more amazing when you think that the camp has 100 people in it.

On a final note, nothing is better than tree planter lingo. Screefing, slash, throwing a plot, throwing 5’s and 6’s, blocks. It’s a whole other language.

Well I want to write more but my time is almost up here. I just wanted to let everyone know that i’m alive and doing well. I will try and call people when I can and write as soon as possible.

PG smells…

Last modified on 2007-05-24 19:42:00 GMT. 2 comments. Top.

So it’s been a while! We worked for 5 days and then had a day off and we were supposed to only work for 3 days and then have 2 days off but our contract was extended and that is why i’ve been slow on the updates.

Nevertheless, I am currently in Prince George. We moved camp yesterday to somewhere between PG and Vanderhoof. The camp is not as pretty as our last one at Marmot Lake but it’s still nice. I set up my tent right above a raging river and I have some awesome people around me.

The past two weeks have been insane! I have so many stories and i’ve forgotten most of them unfortunately but i’ll try my best.
We had some pretty good blocks(the area of land you plant on) and some bad ones. The good ones were amazing. No slash(debris) and it was all burnt. I planted 1730 tree’s in one day last week which is my personal best. Then two days ago we had to plant what is called an “overflow block” which is where you put any extra tree’s at the end of a contract. We pretty much had 40 people planting on one small piece of land which was completely covered in slash. The best part though was that under the slash was about a foot of snow and ice!

The day that I reached 1700 tree’s was a weird one for weather. Sunny skies one minute and then it would hail, then rain and snow. For three days in a row it hailed on us. It definitely makes you hate your life a little.

Two nights ago was our night off. We had a giant bond fire, played guitar and everyone got drunk. We had some Modest Mouse sing alongs and someone gave me a harmonica so I spent the night playing it. That night was also ladies night and everyone was treated so a very sexy(this is sarcasm) show by our very own ‘Midnight Kodogon’.

Right now I am in so much pain. Both my wrists have the starting signs of tendonitis. My ankles are swollen, my lips are cracked, my knuckles are bruised and my back hurts.
Mentally it’s even tougher. You wake up at 6am, it’s cold and your body hurts. You put on your wet boots and try and eat breakfast. You get to your block and you load up pounds and pounds of tree’s onto your back. You dig your shovel into the ground and hit rock after rock. It’s lonely and your tired. This job is mostly mental.

As hard as this job can be and as shitty as the days get, the good makes up for the bad. After a bad day you come home to a giant meal and everyone makes a fire and you play music and tell stories and try and get a good nights sleep and you make peace with your world.
I am also very lucky to be working for Sprectrum. The company had a bad rep for a while but they really do take good care of us. My foreman is awesome and it’s just a nice enviroment to work in.

Sorry if this post is a little boring. I plan of keeping a little journal with me now so that I can actually remember what goes on in my life.

Hope all is well with everyone and since we now will be working 4 days on and one day off I will update soon.

Cash baby

Last modified on 2007-05-31 00:31:00 GMT. 3 comments. Top.

Day off! I went and purshased a hammock and a giant water jug. Both will serve me well.
I am currently at my friend Soili’s house and it’s pretty awesome. I made an apple pie for her and Ashley and Soili’s family and dinner is being made.

This week was the first week of working 4 days with 1 day off and it was quite lovely. Yesterday I just died. It was so hot outside and we were planting such bad land that 3 times during the day I would take my shirt off at the cash and just nap. I still planted 1300 tree’s so i’m not too upset. I also beat my personal best again this week, I planted 1820 tree’s up from 1730! Very happy with myself. And it rained all day that day.

Last week we had two days off and it was great. We stayed at the Camalot Motel which had a pool and hottub! We spent the day pawnshopping and had a wonderful conversation with a scary biker. At night we went out to Sargent’s and danced up a storm.
I cannot wait till we get another 2 days off.

So I realized that nobody really knows what my day consists of. So here is a breakdown of a normal day for me.

I wake up at 5:45am and kick myself for coming out here. At 6am I force myself to get up, put some shoes on and head to the mess tent. I make my lunch which usually consists of 3 sandwhiches. maybe a wrap and leftovers from yesterdays meal. I grab snacks when vegan ones are available and tons of fruit. After making my lunch I head for the breakfast line. I get some fruit, oatmeal and when available I grab a ton of potatoes and tofu scramble.
We go to our team’s pickup and head to our block for the day. I get to my piece of land, bag up with my tree’s and start planting usually by 8am. Every hour or two depending on how many tree’s I bagged up with I go to my cash(the place where you store your tree’s) and take a food break, bag up and head back out. 10 hours later it’s time to go back to camp and we head home for a huge supper, a cup of tea and i’m usually in bed by 9pm. It’s amazing how much we eat and the cooks are amazing. Regardless of how much I eat, I lose it all. I’ve definitely lost tons of weight in the one month i’ve been here.

4 days ahead of me and it looks like it’s going to be a hot week! I hope everyone is doing really well and I will update as soon as I can.

Money!

Tree Planting, What a Job…

Last modified on 2007-06-10 20:42:00 GMT. 6 comments. Top.

Hello folks! What a week, what a job.
Sorry for the lack of updates but we ended up in Vanderhoof last week and that town has no internet access.

Where do I start? Well we moved camp again. This time we are closer to Vanderhoof on the Kluskus road. My tent faces a giant meadow with a river flowing the middle of it. So amazing.
Last week was the beginning of the gong show. We had a 14 hour day! 14 hours of non-stop planting. And to make it worse we were planting a giant gully. We didn’t get home till 9:30pm.

We then moved camp in roughly 5 hours and went to Vanderhoof. What a shit town. I normally love small shit towns but this one was beyond me. I think my distaste for it comes from the fact that I ate Oreo’s and Strudels of a day and a half because there was nothing else for me to eat. Although I learnt from that mistake and i’ve started buying soup and veggie dogs for my days off.

All was good and this week started out well enough until about two days ago. We woke up and finished a block that we weren’t able to finish the night before(because it would have been another 9pm night) and I got 150 tree’s into the ground. We then drove to our new block but got lost. On our way we popped a tired. We changed the tired but it was also flat. Jess drove back to camp and came back two hours later with a new tired that didn’t fit. So we all pile into the suburban but we still can’t find the block. Finally at 4:30pm we threw our arms up and spent the rest of the day in camp.
Yesterday went well on the planting side but our truck’s radiator blew, it got a flat, the burb got a flat and the quad’s two front tired went flat.

This is tree planting for you! And it also rained all week.
I wish I could write more but my time is about to expire. I hope all is well and much love to everyone.

So money…

Last modified on 2007-06-21 18:55:00 GMT. 108 comments. Top.

What a crazy 2 shifts! I cannot even explain or begin to remember half of what went on.
I can telll you though that spring plant is over! I’m in Prince George waiting for my 10pm bus to Banff.

The first of 2 shifts started off with us visiting of huge waterfall lost in the woods. I’ve never seen something so big before. It obviously doesn’t compare to say, victoria falls but since i’ve never been to victoria falls, it blew my mind.

The first shift was actually pretty uneventfull now that I think about it. The block that we got lost trying to find that I wrote about in my last post but sort of sweet. I broke my PB on it! I planted 2105 tree’s. Considering that only 2 or 3 rookies last year broke 2000 tree’s, i’m pretty stoked on it. But tree planting is hardly a satisfying job because my only thought afterwards was, “I could have so gotten 2200!”

We almost got to go on a helicopter! We were told that we could but at the last minute they made us walk in and they sent in all our tree’s and bags with the helicopter. That block turned into such a gongshow. We planted 18 000 tree’s on that day only to find out at the end that we only needed to plant certain coloured area’s but we had started planting the entire block.
We went back two days later without a helicopter and tried finishing it up. Unfortunately 1 bagup in our forman flipped the quad and tore his MCL! And on the third day we tried finishing it our quad fell over a cliff!

The good news about this week was that my good friend Bronson flew in and started working! It’s nice to have a familiar face here but weird to see it in an unfamiliar place.
He broke 1000 tree’s on his third day!

The last two days of this shift were also gong shows! We went to this sweet block and I raced a checker. I did a 330 tree bagup in 45-50minutes! I almost died at the end but it was fun to plant while running and jumping.
Yesterday was intense. We woke up to rain. Driving to our first block we hit a snow storm. We finished out block and went to the first overflow block(when a contract is at it’s end, everyone in sent to an overflow block to plant the rest of the tree’s) during the drive it was sunny outside. Once we got to the block it hailed and then rained for most of the day. It was a painfull day. No one knew what was going on and we all just wanted to go back to camp and eat.
The 2nd overflow was worse but so much fun. The land was creamy and every crew was there. People were jumping each others lines and I raced people and the tree’s were so bad and the density was horrible but we all wanted to go home. By the time we got home it was 10pm.

So now it’s our week off and i’m headed towards Banff. Summer plant looks like it’s going to be hard work but it’s going to be so money!

Hope everyone’s summer is going well and I will update soon!

Banff. refreshing.

Last modified on 2007-06-27 17:34:00 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

The past two days have been filled with anxiety and excitment. Excitment because we all can’t wait to get back to work and make some money but anxiety because things have been turned upside down.

Our foreman will not be returning to work because of his torn MCL. So we will all either be split up into new crews, hopefully put in with a crewboss that we don’t know but who seems like a sweet dude. Some of our crew are leaving early because of this and none of us are too excited.
We are here to plant and I will suck it up if worse comes to worse but if we do get the crewboss that none of us want i’m worried about fights and not getting tree’s when we need it or not knowing whats going on with tree prices etc etc. From what i’ve heard this person is not the greatest rookie foreman.

Banff was a blast for the most part. We camped all week and I got to meet up with old friends. That place is such a fairytale. Beautifull on the outside but it has a subtle darkside to it. It was great to see old friends and it was so much fun hanging out with my close friends from back home. Snuck into a bar for La St. Jean which was sweet and ate so much junk food.

Foreman drama aside, i’m very excited to get back to work. There is something to soothing about tree planting. You put your bags on, turn your music on and go! Summer contract looks a bit short this year though so i’m thinking about doing a week of work afterwards. That extra 500$ or so could go a long way…especially since my way home will consist of 1 plane ride and 3 buses.

See you in a week.

I hate wasps

Last modified on 2007-07-04 02:22:00 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Sorry but this is going to be a short one!

Summer plant sucks. Well it does in certain regards and it really awesome in others.
My original J-Watt crew got split up. Bronson and myself got sent with a pretty sweet forman and everyone else got stuck with another forman. I’m happy that I didn’t get put with that forman because my forman is very similar to our old one but it sucks to have been split up from my crew! At least we still hangout in camp and on days off.
The other sad news is that the crew that we were closest with got sent to another camp!(Marshmellow to Hot Chocolate: I miss you! haha)

Summer planting is sweet because the camp in smaller, everyone is closer and our camp site is sweet! Summer plant sucks because you are planting in stomach high weeds and grass, the land sucks and so far tree prices aren’t too great! I also got attacked by 2 wasp nests in 1 day!

sorry that I cannot write more but my internet time is going to expire and we all need to head back to camp! Bigger update next week.

Pictures

Last modified on 2008-01-29 00:19:15 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

I’ve finally done it! After 6 months i’ve finally finished the tree planting pictures I took this summer and uploaded them! These pictures are by no means winners. They were shot with an unfamiliar camera in an unfamiliar area and most of them were underexposed. Nevertheless, they help in documenting an incredible experience and I hope that you enjoy them!

PICTURES COMING