Living in Alaska · Try New Things Tuesday · Winter

Try New Things Tuesday: Cutting Down A Christmas Tree

Hi everyone!  As you may have read in yesterday’s post, we spent most of our day on Saturday chopping down a Christmas tree with our friends.  Since it’s a pretty epic story, I decided to make it my last “Try New Things Tuesday” post of 2015!  I need to do these more often in 2016  🙂  Anyways, here’s what happened!

Cutting down a christmas tree

Our friends were looking for a real tree, and since it was their first Christmas in Alaska they wanted to go big and get their own tree.  The Chugach National Forest allows you to cut down your own tree as long as it’s a certain distance away from the road, so on Saturday morning we bundled up and started driving south on the Seward Highway!  We stopped to get fresh spring water from a hole in one of the cliffs on Turnagain Arm, and I couldn’t get over how gorgeous it was in the winter!

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After driving for about 45 minutes, it started to rain.  We were bummed about the thought of a rainy tree chopping expedition until we started driving into the mountains and the rain quickly turned into snow!  We had to turn around because the snow was coming down really hard and we knew we were going to have trouble cutting down a tree with such deep snow on the ground.  But since we don’t have snow like this in Anchorage, we decided to get out and play in it for a little while!

IMG_7585It was snowing so hard we could barely see the base of the mountain!

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IMG_7589Tallest snowbank ever!  She’s standing up!

After driving back down the mountain a bit, we decided to pull off near what looked like an unmarked trail.  We scrambled over giant piles of snow and eventually found a bridge that led off into the woods.  And at that point the tree hunt was officially underway!  We walked for about 10 minutes just enjoying the falling snow and the huge trees.  It was absolutely silent and it felt amazing to be so far away from the rest of the world!

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IMG_7596Scrambling through the forest

We eventually found a clearing which had some good options, but we still couldn’t find “the one”.  We did take lots of selfies though!

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After walking another 10 minutes deeper into the woods, we found another clearing.  We walked around the border of it in knee-deep snow, and that’s when we found “the one”!  The tree looked full and short enough to fit inside their apartment, so we started chopping it down.  We all took turns with the hatchet, and it was actually more fun (and more work!) than I thought it would be!  And we also made a few snow angels and had some snowball fights.

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IMG_7603So deep!  This is why snowshoes are a thing…

IMG_7607I stopped mid-snow angel to take this selfie of me playing while the boys look for a tree  🙂

IMG_7630Cutting down “the one”!

Once we chopped down the tree, we had to level it out and leave as little trace as possible.  By this point my feet were starting to freeze, and my down jacket was getting pretty soaked.  I definitely did not expect that much snow when I was getting dressed, but I knew we were in the home stretch of the trip.  Our last step was carrying it back out to the car.  Luckily the boys did it while us girls continued to take pictures of everything.  The falling snow was so peaceful and gorgeous, and I couldn’t stop staring straight up!

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After tying the tree to the top of the car, we stopped in Girdwood for some donuts and hot chocolate before heading back home for a nice hot bath and some dry clothes.

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Overall, I was really glad we had this experience, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever do it for my own tree!  On my Try New Things Tuesday Scale, I would give this a 3 out of 5.

What I liked:

  • The weather was PERFECT!  It was in the low 30s and snowing, which is just about the best weather you can ever have.  I wish I could guarantee that weather every time!
  • We managed to find a pre-existing trail which made walking easier, although none of us knew where we were.
  • We did it in a group, and they had their gun in case we needed protection from animals and the right equipment to cut down a tree.  I felt that they were super prepared, which is so important when you’re in the middle of nowhere in Alaska!
  • We had a map from the state that listed all the legal places we could cut down our own tree, which was very helpful.
  • It’s so cool to know exactly where your tree came from and have a good story about how you got it.  What a fun memory!

What I didn’t really like:

  • It was a TON of work.  It took all day and I was exhausted afterwards.  None of us thought to bring our snowshoes, which would have helped with the knee-deep snow!  Walking around in that is definitely a workout!
  • Cutting down a tree takes a really long time.  And so does carrying it back to the car.
  • Trees in a national forest aren’t like the trees you can buy in the city, so it takes a while to find one that isn’t crooked, huge, or has huge gaps.
  • They had to let their tree dry off before brining it inside because it was covered in snow.

If they do it again next year we’ll probably go – but you better believe I’m keeping my fake pre-lit Christmas tree!  I am not switching over to Team Real Tree anytime soon.  It was such a fun thing to do with friends though, and just one more crazy Alaskan thing that I couldn’t do at home!

Have you ever cut down a tree in the middle of a forest?  Would you do it again?  And who else is on Team Fake Tree?

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20 thoughts on “Try New Things Tuesday: Cutting Down A Christmas Tree

    1. I agree! It was fun, but I can’t imagine trying to get the wet tree into their apartment to dry it out on their balcony. My tree is so easy to put up that I can’t even think about doing a real one now!

  1. Looks like a fun adventure! I’m definitely on Team Real Tree; I’ve never had and likely never will have a fake tree, although I can see the appeal. My dad usually hunts down our family Christmas tree, and if we’ve gotten one for our apartment in the past, we usually just go to a Christmas tree farm. You still get to cut your own, but it’s way less of a hassle.

    1. I love the idea of going to a tree farm! They don’t have that here, but I bet that would be way easier and you wouldn’t have to deal with deep snow and potential animal sightings!

  2. This looks pretty awesome- even though I felt cold just seeing those pictures (it doesn’t snow here). I’ve never cut down a Christmas tree or even had a live one- all of ours have been artificial. But this is a cool way to embrace Alaskan life. Glad you got a new tree and did it safely with a group!

  3. I love your pictures, so much snow!

    I don’t think there is anywhere near me where you can cut down your own tree, I don’t think the forestry commission would allow you loose with an axe or saw in the forest!

    I always get a real tree. I love the smell and the plus is you have firewood for the following winter.

    1. That’s what I said when I thought about doing this back in Philly! There is nowhere you can do that back there, someone owns all of the land and there’s no way the state would let you chop down tress in state parks. That’s why I was so excited to try it out 🙂

  4. What a fun adventure! The pictures our beautiful & it’s a great story. I wouldn’t mind cutting down our own tree of the temps were warm enough. Have a great Christmas!

  5. I’ve only ever had a fake tree, so I’ve never cut down my own tree before, but it looked like fun, but also a ton of work! Great pictures! I’ve been complaining about how cold it is on the west coast as compared to the east coast (where I just came from, haha), but deffffinitely cannot compare to Alaska!

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