Luckily, Stephen Brown of Superior Log Restoration in Duluth was willing to come up in mid-March to put a rafter system on the log trusses, and also to add a dormer over one side of the loft to give us head room up there. So on March 10, we met him and his assistant, Zach, to oversee the work. The morning started out crisp and beautiful; below is a view of Soderberg Lane, the road that serves us and our neighbors on the north side of Birch Lake, at about 8 a.m. that morning.
When Bruce and I got there, we had to scramble down a huge snowbank to get into the lower level of the cabin, which has a temporary door that allowed us to get inside. We wanted a door on the parking-lot side of the cabin, and Steve cut that for us; this would allow them to work from the inside without having to slide down the snowbank all the time to get in.
First, Steve used a laser to project a straight line on the logs, then drew lines on the laser path for cutting reference. The lines were repeated on the outside.
After that, Steve cut out one log so he could communicate with Zach on the outside; Zach was in charge of watching the saw's path on the outside to help Steve make straight cuts. Once he had the window, Steve cut out the logs below to make a doorway; it's not the final height yet but it sure makes it easier to get into the cabin.
The noise of the chainsaw, and the sawdust produced by the cutting, were pretty amazing inside the cabin! Steve was wearing a safety helmet with earmuffs and a dust filter, and he gave Bruce and me earplugs to wear while we were inside. (By the way, you can click on any of these photos to see a larger version; the one at the right is pretty cool.)
Once they had the angles figured out and did some contouring on the long horizontal logs (the ridgepole, purlins, and top plates), Steve had to cut the overhanging logs (what I call the tails) from the log trusses and loft rafters, so they were at the proper angle. Again, this isn't something you'd want just anyone to do, and Steve spent time feathering the cuts to make them smooth and perfect after he got the ends off.
Measuring, shaping the purlins and other logs, cutting the tails, and other preparation continued through Tuesday. On Wednesday, Steve and Zach put up the rafters.
We were staying in the cabin next door with our friends, the Meyers. There's no running water there yet, and by Wednesday we were all feeling a little cruddy. So we went to Hungry Jack Lodge, about 6 miles away, and paid to use their shower house (photo below)... best five bucks I ever spent! We all had dinner on Wednesday night at Trail Center; we'd invited Steve and Zach to join us for dinner because a trip "up the Trail" just isn't complete with a visit to Trail Center.
On Thursday, Steve and Zach put up two beautiful cedar logs for the posts in front of the dormer. They also cut and tailored the massive cedar log for the dormer header. Another beautiful day, with sunshine and temps in the 20s.
Neighbors Don and Leny Wendel were up there most of the week, and visited several times. Leny had run a 4-dog team in the fundraising dogsled event, Mush for a Cure, on Saturday March 8. This event raised $36,000 for breast cancer research. Steve and Zach saw Leny's dogsled flying by on Soderberg Lane from their perch in the rafters on several occasions; at left is a photo with her beautiful Samoyeds, Ariel and Packer. (Steve and Zach also saw a FedEx truck on Soderberg Lane; kind of an unexpected thing to see in such a remote location!)
OK, back to the cabin. Friday was the most challenging day, because that's when Steve and Zach raised the 400-pound cedar log for the dormer header. The weather had turned colder, and it was windy and snowing on and off all day; a real "wet sandwich" kind of day. They built a gin pole (which I quickly re-christened The Whiskey Pole) and used a rope hauler--kind of a big come-along--to crank the log up into place. It was touch-and-go for a while, but it finally all came together. Bruce sure looks happy to have it in place.
Once the header was secured, everyone could breathe a little easier. Steve and Zach put the rafters on the dormer, then put tarps over the whole thing to keep snow out until the roof decking can be put on (hopefully very soon!). We spent a relaxing evening with the Meyers, who left for home on Saturday. Bruce and I stayed on to clean up and organize things, which took all day Saturday. We were told it got down to 27 below on Saturday night! On Sunday, we worked on floor plans; it's rough to fit a working kitchen, woodstove, functional sitting area and a stairway in a 16x20 space. We stayed again on Sunday night and enjoyed a fantastic rib dinner at Trail Center, then drove home on Monday afternoon. Next challenge: getting the decking on so the cabin can survive the spring thaw! Thanks for looking at my blog; I'll post again when the next phase is done.