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Further Adventures on Belle Isle: Jake Carufel of Canopy Climber Tree Care

Further Adventures on Belle Isle: Jake Carufel of Canopy Climber Tree Care

Last month we told you about the volunteer project we helped out with on Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan. This month we want to give you a breakdown of some of the cool tricks and techniques we used to get some of these big logs out of the canals and onto shore! We talked with Jake Carufel who used to work for Bartlett Arborist Supply, but now runs his own company, Canopy Climber Tree Care, out of Port Huron, Michigan. Jake is a Certified Arborist, as well as the 2016 Michigan Tree Climbing Champion, so it's always fun to catch up and see what types of cool climbing tricks that he and other climbers are employing to get the job done! Jake wrote the following account that details what he used to suspend himself over the water and make the cuts without getting wet.

Man vs. Cottonwood

When we showed up at the work site for the day we knew that we had one large Cottonwood that had fallen across the canal and completely blocked the waterway with a good 30'+ log. The Cottonwood had also partially pulled a large Hawthorn into the water as well. Our main goal was to make a pathway for kayakers, which meant that we didn't need to remove the whole tree. This was really reassuring because the tree was freaking huge!

I remember the last time I came to Belle Isle to do volunteer work and we pulled a couple logs out of the canals. It was a ton of work with the GRCS and all kinds of rigging gear. On top of that it rained'no, it poured, the ENTIRE time we worked on getting those logs out of the water! It was miserable! Luckily for us, the weather was awesome on this day. It was a slightly overcast day and temps that kept you from sweating, but were also warm enough to keep the coats in the truck.

So when we started looking at this large Cottonwood that was lying across the canal, I immediately started thinking about how to get that log up and out of the water. On this trip to Belle Isle, we didn't have a GRCS at our disposal so it was going to take a bit more manpower or, at least, a little more horsepower! Dan Thornton had also volunteered his time, as well as his truck, so we decided the best bet was going to be hooking a Port a Wrap to the front of his vehicle and using that for some mechanical advantage! We also chose to use a double whip to gain even more mechanical advantage. A double whip consists of attaching a block (1) to the item you want to move and then running another block (2) to an anchor point. The rope is tied to the anchor point that block (2) ran through block (1) on the item you are moving and then back to the anchor point and through the block (2) that is attached there. This allows you to create quite a bit of mechanical advantage, as this configuration pulls everything in line and right to your anchor point.

The Right Setup

The hardest part of setting up this system was attaching the block to the log in the water. That water was COLD and I didn't want to reach all the way around that log to attach the sling and block. So I decided to bore cut through the log and then attach the block to the chunk of wood that remained. This kept me nice and dry and also gave me a good idea of how rotten the log was.

The thought of touching that cold water really caught my attention, seeing as I was going to be making the cut and releasing the log to be hauled up on shore. Luckily, there was a huge Burr Oak on the opposing shore from where we were working. Dan Shot a line up into it easily enough and we set up a Rope Wrench on this line. Now I could balance a bit better as I walked out on the log. Once I was at the spot where I was going to make the cut, I looked around for another anchor point for my lanyard. Again, I was fortunate to have a relatively small but sturdy Elm tree on the bank that was opposite to the large Burr Oak. I tossed my lanyard to someone on shore and they attached it to the Elm using the floater on my CE Lanyard. The floater keeps a cinched carabiner from cross loading.

Getting the Perfect Position

So at this point I could suspend myself between these two anchor points, but I found that I kept getting pulled too far out over the water instead of staying over the top of the log to make the cut. The whole goal was to tension my climbing systems enough that I could just float while I made the cut. Being pulled over the water was going to make the cut difficult, but it would also leave me dangling with no way of making it back to dry land or onto the uprooted Hawthorn. So I had someone on shore throw me my Captain Hook!

I used the Captain Hook with a 60' piece of Teufelberger KMIII rope attached to it to help position me directly over the piece of Cottonwood. I did this by throwing it up into the uprooted Hawthorn and then used a Rope Runner to help me position exactly where I wanted to be. This worked well in conjunction with the Rope Wrench and the CE Lanyard. The only other thing that I added in was a hand ascender with a Petzl Roll Clip over top of my Rope Wrench to help me take up slack. This made the positioning a breeze!

Now it finally came down to the actual cut! We tensioned the log with the double whip and the truck, and got everyone out of the way in case anything were to go haywire, as well as asked a bunch of onlookers to move so they were in a safe position. It's strange how quickly the peanut gallery shows up when they hear a chainsaw start! I began my cut and slowly started cutting small wedges out of the sides of the log to make sure my saw didn't get pinched. Ever so slowly I could feel the log start to move just a bit. I kept cutting ever so carefully until' the log dropped a hair and pinched my saw!!! Not very impressive for the peanut gallery! I had one of the guys on shore send over a trim saw and I managed to finish the cut with that. Miraculously enough, when the log broke in two and dropped into the water, I managed to float above the water thanks to all the effort we put into the gear setup AND my other saw balanced right on top of the remaining log without falling in the water! It was awesome!

Thanks Jake and Crew!

We want to give Jake as well as everyone else who helped out on the Belle Isle project a huge thank you for their time and their skills to get these waterways open so that the public can go enjoy them. If you have an awesome story (with awesome photos) that you'd like to tell, please send us an email and we will get your story on the blog. We love hearing and telling tree stories as much as the next tree worker! Thanks for reading!

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