I just received the alumni magazine for Dartmouth, and they featured the Woodsmans meet I was in last spring! Can you spot the scenes with me in them? There are four? Better yet, do you know what the events are?
Every three years, Dartmouth hosts the spring woodsman’s meet, a huge spectacle of burliness originating in logging camps. Most years we travel to other colleges to compete, but this year was the home meet right in the center of Hanover on The Green.
One imagines this would mean sleeping in, relaxing and casually cutting some wood. However, during the home meet we all woke up at 5AM to get setup for each day’s events. On Friday I competed in Double’s Canoe with Annie Laurie, where we race a course set around tight buoy’s. We won!
The Pulp Toss: Think horseshoes but with heavy logs.
Log rolling: Think lining up logs into neat rows for storage
Packboard: You tie a 25lb bag with a cast iron cooking pan onto a wood frame and sprint with it. It is as miserable as it sounds!
The other events included: Singles Canoe and Portage: think running with a canoe
The temperature was barely above freezing (there was ice in the pond), and as usual Dartmouth’s uniform of flair (wacky clothing) made us easy to recognize.
On Saturday, we built a pool on The Green.
The president of the college did a crosscut competition with our team captain!
Bernie played the star spangled banner on the saw!
I competed in Vertical Chop with Annie Laurie: Think chopping down a tree
Disk Stack: Kind of like Jenga with a chainsaw – the goal is to cut pieces and keep them ‘stacked’. If they fall off you need to start over, and there is a time limit. This was my first experience in this event, so I was pretty excited to get 8, especially when I ran out of gas halfway through and had to ask another team to borrow their saw before I ran out of time.
Splitting: You need to quickly split wood small enough to go through a hole is a piece of plywood.
Other events include Birling: Think traditional log rolling in a pool
Chain Throw: Think coiling a surveying tape really fast
Ax Throw and Log Decking: Think log roll described above, but onto a truck.
H Chop: Think bucking up downed logs
Firebuild: A few matches and a hatchet – ready, set go!
By 11:00 PM, after 18 hours awake and nearing delirium during the cleanup, I was still grinning. What can I say? Was it due to the fact that we drove across the green? Was it due to hearing stories of alums stealing signs from events in Canada including a larger than life sign of a logger named Pierre? Naw, I think it is just because woodsman’s competitions are fun!
Every term the Woodsmen’s Team competes in Spring Meet – the biggest competition that of the entire year. I had planed on going all year, but my engineering Computer Aided Design class has been crazy, and I was running low on sleep. I didn’t finish a Solidworks CAD model until 2AM, so I skipped the team bus and drove up early in the morning joining the team. Running on little sleep the day passed in a blur of competition, throwing 40 lb logs and sawing crosscuts.
Later that day, after a well needed nap, I strolled through the NY campus where all the teams set up tents. Each time I rounded the corner, there was a new campfire, radio station and vibe. My team was jamming to some indie music and the next five minutes of walking throughout the campsites brought different varieties of country with a few teams blasting some classic rock.
The next day my lack of sleep caught up with me. I wasn’t quite as quick at the vertical chop, but the day was filled with fun, and I even ended up getting second place in scoot load!
We make wood smaller, and this term, the Woodsmen’s Team has two meets: Mud Meet and Spring Meet. Mud Meet is our warm up for Spring Meet, and it sure lived up to its name. The
events that we competed in were pulping (horseshoes with heavy wood). In my CoZone Onesie of course!
V chop — if you were to chop down a tree old-school, this would be how you did it.
Single buck if you wanted to cut up a really big log without a chainsaw, this would be you.
Disk stack holding a chainsaw level is hard. Trying to cut pieces in a jenga like stack and not letting them fall is even harder.
H chop chopping fallen logs.
Packboard if you wanted to run through the woods (in a foot of slush/water and brambles) with a really uncomfortable backpack held together by a string with a hatchet. I know. I dont ever really want to do that either. But hey, its a team event!
get to practice very often. We usually forget at least one or two tools, and we always have fun at meets, no matter the conditions. After getting back from Mt Katahdin, the temperatures plummeted, right in time to go to the coldest woodsmans meet that we do McGill U in Motreal. We arrived in the great north and proceeded to the captains meeting on the Macdonald forestry campus. There sitting in a classroom were the other schools, all Canadian. Canadian woodsmans teams have quirks as well: line dancing, only playing country music, and being on average the size of two of me, but during competition they mean business.
So in we come to an intense woodsman’s meeting, tripping over our feet and trying not to show everyone how unprepared we were for this level of serious competition. Needless to say, after three years of being the American team, we werent changing our image one bit.