Being from Southern California, I have never had a true "White Christmas." I was 28 before I saw actual snowfall with my own eyes.
In California, you GO to the snow. In Idaho, the snow finds you. And brutally rapes your soul.
Any time I spend with family is usually a good time. So when they told me about cutting down my own Christmas tree, I was skeptical but decided to give it a shot.
I have never done this before. I am used to having either an artificial tree, or going to "Tree Farms" where you pick out a pre-cut tree, the nice clerks bag it up for you, and you take it home. Point, pay, and go home. 30 minutes tops.
A date is set for my inaugural tree-chopping: The weekend after Thanksgiving. I'm somewhat excited.
Little did I know...
The days before Thanksgiving, it snowed. And not just a little snow, it DUMPED. Jack Frost took the biggest diarrhea-induced-snow-shit I have ever seen.
"Oh, that will just make it easier to get the tree back to the car!" they said. "You can load the trees on sleds, and just pull them!"
Day of the trip. Still a crap-ton of snow on the ground, but at least it's not coming down anymore. We all group up, and 3 vehicles all carpool into the magical forest of Christmas Trees.
Why we had to drive 60 miles to find the "right" tree, when we passed hundreds of trees every minute, I do not know. "Don't worry" they told me, "when you see where we're going, you'll understand."
I watched as tree after tree passed by. Many of them Christmas-worthy, but we weren't at the right place yet...
We enter the forest. Gorgeous trees everywhere. I start to get a little excited. "Not quite yet, almost there..."
Deeper into the forest we go, until we're practically in Wyoming. When we park...
Trees! Woo! Time for chopping, yes?
"Not yet, let's hike a little deeper into the forest. That's where all the GOOD trees are..."
Hiking I can do. I was in scouts, and loved going out into the wilderness. However, this wasn't your normal hike. UPHILL, off the main roads, in loose 3ft deep snow, for about a mile and a half. That's Idaho Hiking.
All the meanwhile, I'm seeing some damn good trees. "No no, keep going. Trust us..." So I press on.
At this point in the story, I'd like to point out that I was ill-equipped for this trip. I had just bought a pair of snow boots, and this was my "break them in" trip. The snow was deeper than the boots, and I was wearing jeans, which quickly soaked in all the snow they could. I was cold and wet up to my thighs, but at least my feet were warm and dry!
So we hike and hike...
And hike and hike...
Funny, but to the untrained eye, we were hiking AWAY from the trees. The deeper we got into the forest, the less trees there seemed to be. The ones that WERE around, were either 60 feet tall, or 2 foot saplings...
Finally, about 500 yards off the main path, we get to the "right" spot. Families divide up and decide which tree they want for their given home. Meanwhile, I'm tired, wet, freezing, and managed to twist an ankle hiking up a snowy hill in new boots (yeah, I'm a fucking genius, I know).
My girlfriend spots the tree she wants, and calls me over to cut it down.
At that point, I'm tired and limping, and just want to cut down the first tree she likes so we can start heading home. It's kind of a sad looking tree (Charlie-Brown-esque seems fitting) but she likes it. I grab the saw, and summon forth all the frustration and rage I have from this trip.
Man and saw prevailed. I fucked that little tree up.
Now the fun part . Hiking. Back the way I came. With tree in tow.
We get back to the main trail, and I'm not doing so well. My ankle hurts like a motherfucker, and this tree plus fighting the snow is just too much. I swallow the last bit of pride I had, and asked my girlfriend to take the tree the rest of the way.
Some man I am, beaten by a Charlie-Brown tree, and forced to make my girl take it.
Her and her sister, brother in law, and nephew continue on, trees and all, back down the pathway. I catch my breath for a few minutes before plodding down to join them, but they were already well out of sight.
Alone, in the middle of a forest. Nothing but snow and trees in sight. How far do I follow the pathway before I break off and start heading down the hill? 500 feet? 500 yards? A mile?
I check my phone. No reception at all. FUCK.
And of course, to make things more interesting, my bladder goes "Hey. Sup? Howya doin?"
I take a few steps off the trail, and write my Last Will and Testament in the snow, in yellow ink. Then I begin, what I think, is the way back to the carpool. Limping, cursing, and hoping I find civilization before hypothermia sets in.
I eventually find my way back, and we all went home. Most everyone was in a cheerful, triumphant mood. Me? I was glad to have survived.
End result was this:
It's not the best tree that has ever graced my house, but I *earned* that fucker. I went into the forest-of-no-return, fought the elements, and cut that sonofabitch down. This was MY tree.
Next year, I think I'm going to get my tree from Target.