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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Berry Cold

A combination of a typhoon remnant running into Alaska and the benefit of high mountains to our east we have been socked by the first cold snap of the season.

The pressure of the storm in Alaska has shifted a low pressure mass out of the Arctic and into the east.  As this mass comes south the pressure differences set up.  East of the Cascades, cold high pressure to the , warmer low pressure over us in the west.  Gaps in the Cascade range sets up a funnel for the high pressure to run into the low.  Columbia Gorge is famous for the fierce winds which come with these events.  The Enumclaw Gap is another.  Wednesday people awoke to downed trees and power lines for 40 - 60 mph winds.  This high wind and its cloudless sky has removed our insulating blanket and overnight we have gone from typical 50's to barley making it out of the 30s.

So heading out to a land trust work party, the mornings rising sun could not do away with this.  I love the feathery ice patterns on the glass.  Happily it defrosts in a jiffy.

Driving south the freeway was fine but rounding the corner at Kent I met the outpouring of winds from the Enumclaw Gap.  They were light, relative to what had passed through overnight but trees were whipping and bending and my car danced a bit along the road.

I stopped for hand warmers to share with co-workers

This new property was donated by a private citizen.  It is her hope that in the long term we can return the 40+ acres to what it was in her youth.  Today we got started by attacking the blackberry that has over-run this clearcut land

I left my work gloves at home, they need a bath from last weekends work party.  I pulled a leather and fleece combo, just a thing for a cold and sticker filled day like this.

Blackberry can rapidly overtake cleared areas.  Here we have a lot of native plant mixed in so one has to be careful about attacking anything with thorns for good natives like Salmonberry and Snowberry  are desired.  Even our native Trailing Blackberry is here.  It was doing a good job of running and blending in with the undesirable Himmalayan and Mountain ( cut-leaf) blackberry.

We attack the job.  I use a shovel and a pair of clippers.  Trim down the long vines and try to get it into some kind of pile, then dig out the root ball.

Two gas powered cutters were deployed to really attack the bushes that were growing thick and high.

Those Alder trees are totally engulfed by these plants with vines growing up and over the limbs at lease 12 feet up.  The safety gear is needed for sure.  There is nothing that saves you when you go hand to hand , however.  Even the leather gloves did not save my hands from punctures and my arms and legs are covered in little scratches where  thorns got through.

After the canes were cut through in the base two of us went in and worked out the puzzle of pulling the canes out of the high branches.  Sometimes it was pretty straight forward pull this and it comes down.  Other times it was sort of figuring out the layers and the ways they entwine.  We succeeded, however in getting 5 trees cleared of they vine burden.

A Robin nest was inside this mass.  They will have to make do next season with one of the areas nearer the woodsland

This property needs a lot of work and some plantings are already planned.  By liberating the trees and freeing up the soil and light penetration for the native shrubby plants we already have a head start.

A cold sunny day and hard work go together.  Much easier to work hard when you don't fight the rising temperatures.


  1. That land certainly needed some help. It must feel to great to be outdoors and do some good for nature at the same time. Thanks for your comment and for the work that you do.

  2. Excellent post and nice to know that there are some who care. We hiked to Lake Twenty two a couple weeks ago and I was appalled by the litter.