It’s that magical time of year when people start stampeding over one another for the best deal on the latest Elmo and our brains are constantly bombarded with the same Christmas songs we’ve heard since time began.
Christmas tree nomads take the place their firework brethren stood only months before as the cosmic ballet of hawking holiday cheer marches on.
Living here in Washington, it’s always perplexed me why anyone would go and buy a tree. I mean take a look around you. (Unless you live on the dry side)
Maybe people buy farm trees because they don’t know that you can buy a tree permit for like $10 from the Forest Service.
It varies in price depending on where you intend to cut or how tall of a tree you want to harvest. Anyway you chop it (lol), it’s a hell of a deal.
In the Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie National forest, a permit for a tree under 12′ tall is only $10.(DEC2014)
Only $20 if you have vaulted ceilings the likes of the Mercer Island crowd and need somethin’ a little taller…
You know, like a Redwood.
Information is available here: http://www.fs.fed.us/ but if you want Baker-Snoqualmie I’ll make it easy for you: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/mbs/home/?cid=stelprdb5337967&width=full
Permits are available for sale at the local Ranger station or at a handful of fine retailers. (REI sells them)
Once you have your map and permit it’s time to go hunting.
Important things to equip yourself with:
1. Weather appropriate clothing.
2. Work gloves.
3. A saw (I’d suggest a bow saw, but I’m not going to tell you how to do your job)
4. Ample rope to secure your tree to your vehicles roof.
5. Emergency supplies; i.e. shovel, chains, extra food emergency blanket etc.
Depending on the weather and/or type of year we are having, you may experience snow in the high grounds, so be prepared.
This is especially true if you intend to bag the elusive Noble Fir.
A Christmas tree hunt can be whatever you make it:
Establish a base camp, snowshoe for days, cut down the tree with your teeth!!!
…or you can just drive around til you find it.
The map will tell you where you can harvest, so having it is vital.
It doesn’t mention however that you may not cut a tree within 150′ of streams, ponds, lakes or wetlands.
Knowing is half the battle.
When you finally find and cut your perfect tree whether it be Yggdrasil or the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, you gotta attach your permit prior to transport. The forest service generously supplies a zip tie!
Make sure to punch out the correct date on your permit and you are good to go!
All that’s left is to securely fasten your tree to your vehicle or mule team, ox, whatever you got.
I’m no knot master, so all I’ll say here is make sure that baby can’t come flying off.
Do a good pre-freeway or highway check. No need to cause anymore undue Christmas casualties.
Not a bad idea to inspect your tree for small mammals or bee’s nests while you are at it.
Merry Holidays and happy hunting!