Quandary: How to cut down your own Christmas tree
Quandary, the old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to all questions about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Email your queries about Summit and the High Country to Quandary@summitdaily.com.
How can I cut down my own Christmas tree?
Such a romantic idea, trekking out into the woods and finding that perfect tree to adorn your living room with, I can practically see the songbirds and squirrels following you on your merry way! Luckily, this is pretty much as straightforward as you would expect: pay $10, cut down tree.
Christmas tree permits went on sale at the Dillon Ranger District at 680 Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne on Nov. 15 and will be sold through Dec. 24. Permits are $10 per tree and as soon as you get your permit, you can become the ax-wielding lumberjack you always dreamed to be — except you don’t really need an ax. A saw will do just fine to bring in your own Charlie Brown-esque conifer. If you are trying to decorate your mansion please remember there is a limit of five trees per person. For some this means even the laundry room could have its very own touch of the holiday spirit, but try not to go too crazy when the firs start flying.
When you purchase your permit you will get a rundown of the rules. One important rule to keep in mind is that once you’ve wrestled your tree, you can only leave 6 inches of trunk sticking up from the ground. This sounds simple, but keep in mind, if you go to an area with deep snow, you may have to do some digging to get to that mark. Consider bringing a collapsible shovel so your hands don’t get too cold digging before you turn into a saw-happy maniac. In this case size really does matter. Before you get to sawing, make sure the trunk of your tree is no bigger than 6 inches around — this year’s permits even have a handy ruler on them so you can test it out.
When you get your permit, you will also get a map of appropriate areas where you can make your mark, and from there the forest is your own personal lot. This does not mean you can go down to Lake Dillon and grab a spruce while you’re picnicking in a shelter though. Trees have to be 100 feet from any road, and can’t be near a campground or other recreational-use area — this includes wilderness areas like Eagles Nest. Basically, the more remote the location, the better. That’s more fun anyway, right? At least until you have a 12-foot tree you’re trying to get down the mountain to strap on top of your Miata.
So take it from a goat in the know, be prepared for a trek when you head out. You will be carrying your saw both directions and dragging your tree on the way back. If you find an area that was particularly difficult to get to, take a good hard look and decide whether you will really be able to drag a tree back out before doing your Paul Bunyan tryouts. Dress warm and plan well so that you don’t have to spend your holiday huddled around your still-living tree in the backcountry. If you can, work through the whole process in your mind: Take saw to forest, find tree, cut down tree, get tree to car, get tree home, get tree inside. Often when you are in the forest, sizes can seem very different compared to when you get home and are trying to shove your branches through a narrow doorway, so it might payoff to measure your space and take a tape measurer into the wild with you. The bigger the tree, the harder it falls too, so if you want to fill those vaulted ceilings be ready for a workout. Remember, trees can only be cut down until the holiday, so if you don’t make it back by the first of the year, you broke the law.
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