Gentlemen's weekend this year was at a more traditional time, mid October, running from Thursday, 18 October to Monday, 22 October. It was cool and wet at times, but, as usual, everyone had a great time and we even got a lot of needed work done.
As usual I came up Wednesday night arriving just after midnight. There was a bit of crusty snow on the ground, but otherwise clear, dry, and cool.
The first thing I checked out was the new kitchen wall (see below). Everything looked good so I opened up the Cabin as usual. Due to recent visits, everything was in good shape so it was easy to get the place opened up: a fire in the wood stove and Krupnik in the shot glass.
Also as usual, the first day I was up there mostly by myself so I planned on doing some hiking. Before getting started, though, there were things to check out around the Cabin. A new addition to the Cabin is a heat powered fan I brought up for the wood stove. It is powered by the heat generated by the stove itself; once the stove heats up enough the fan starts spinning. I figured it would at least be a novelty, however, it did seem to keep the Cabin more uniformly warm while also allowing us to burn less wood. Over all, it seemed to make a noticeable difference. We need a winter trip to really test it!
As noted in the introduction, the other major change was the work on the kitchen wall. Though not quite completed, it is much, much better than it was! At least this wall is now much tighter, and the floor is much more level.
The main activity while waiting for others to arrive was to go for a hike. This was my first major walking prior to the ankle injury in this locale. The day was absolutely beautiful: cool and sunny. This was by far the best weather of all the days up there, the nice weather not returning until we were leaving....
The hiked started along McCloud Grade past the Lucky Buck. It then mostly followed 443, including a part I have not hiked before. (Usually I turn off at some point to cross the bridge over Harvey Creek.) This allowed me to explore some trails I had not been on before, walk past a cabin I had not seen before, and even map some new trails. I ended up on Old Seney, then cut back into the woods, before heading back to the Cabin again coming from the Lucky Buck side along McCloud Grade.
Overall it was about an eleven mile hike through beautiful scenery in beautiful weather.
The rest of the guys arrived that night. First Bill, Mike, and Andy from Detroit. A bit later Jon, Ed, and Jim from Kalamazoo.
The next day started in the usual way. This included the usual, huge breakfast. It also included rain. The beautiful weather from yesterday was gone, replace by cold rain with some snow mixed in. Despite this we also started the usual fire. All the downed trees made it easy to get wood, even in the rain. With a rain fly set up we were able to wait out the weather. Even better, we were able to collect some water to put in the water tank on the wood stove, and use it for cleaning. The pump is still not producing much water. That is something else that will need to be fixed. Once the rain let up for a bit I took a short hike down McCloud Grade toward the Lucky Buck. I ran into some guys from the Lucky Buck up prepping for deer season.
Once the rain let up, some of the guys decided to go "fishing". Really this meant catching sticks. I went with them and watched for a little while before hiking back to camp. I suppose they had some fun, the sticks were biting at least.
The major project for the weekend was to take down the chimney. We have not used the fireplace in years since it provides very little heat. The intention is to replace the fireplace with an inset, the first step of the process was to take down the chimney. This was accomplished surprisingly easily. The chimney itself came down fine. The clean up was not too bad. Even removing the cinder blocks went well. The footing seems solid, so can be used for rebuilding. The header log, on the other hand, was quite rotted. We knew there was a lot of moisture getting into the Cabin. Part of this was due to the kitchen wall, which has been fixed up. Now, we hope, the chimney coming down will further improve things.
Much more time was spent closing up the hole. Andy spent a lot of time meticulously fitting pieces to seal it nicely. Hopefully he did not do too good a job. We do want to rip this cover out, get an inset in, and start building a new chimney as soon as possible!
To celebrate the successful demolition, the guys actually smoked the pipes that have been sitting on fireplace mantle for years (decades?). Everyone seemed to survive, and, as far as I know, are still doing well.
The other big project was to split firewood. As noted in the August trip, there were a lot of downed trees near the Cabin. Some of these went into the outside fire we kept burning, but some were nice hard wood. In fact, one behind the outhouse is a big maple. This is a hard, dense wood that took a lot of work to cut, haul, and try to split. It is still pretty wet, and there is still much to be cut and split. But we did fill the rest of the wood shed. Part of it with the maple, and part of it with softer woods. All of this is still wet and needs seasoning. We will need it, though, for any winter trips we plan since we only have about a cord of seasoned wood.
Before the Detroit crew was to leave it was decided that there was a tree that needed to come down. It was leaning toward the Cabin and had a split in it. It was not completely rotted, but it was decided to take it down anyway. We roped it up and tried to pull it away from the Cabin. Of course we could not pull it very far, but it was cut down anyway. Fortunately it fell parallel to the Cabin, into the woods. With some effort, Jon was able to pull it out with his car. It is now lying next to the Cabin, waiting to be cut up for burning.
For the rest of the day we took it pretty easy. A little bit more processing of wood, some cards, etc.
The Kalamazoo group and I were able to stay an extra day. Of course this day began with a clear, blue sky; quite different from all but the first day I was there! We did most of the work closing up the Cabin together. I stuck around to do the final closing. The Cabin is now waiting for our next trip up.