Memories of Tree Planting.


Myself, Mike and Dan 2014
Clink Clink…..STOMP, then sounds of footsteps breaking twigs and walking over the ground. Clink Clink….STOMP.
I know that sound, I’ve made that sound before, that sound brings me back to the exact same month and even day, 8 years ago. The undeniable sound of a tree planter reforesting a vast cut block, focused on their work but lost in the dreams of why they’re actually doing this dreadful work. I peered outside the window of the MicroLander, to see exactly what I had envisioned. A guy maybe a couple years younger then me, doing the same clink clink….Stomp that I had done 8 years prior. I didn’t bother him, but watched him work for a couple minutes while remembering how much I hated tree planting. His dog inspected every tree he planted and I had a little internal chuckle when it watered one of them too. Clink Clink….STOMP….Sniff sniff….piddle piddle piddle. Everyone doing there part right.
I had parked on a logging road just off the 97C highway that connects Merritt to Kelowna. I had never spent the night up here before, I brought a friend along to enjoy the view and have some good conversation with. There were signs of Tree planters while driving up the road and close to the spot where I eventually parked for the night so I wasn’t surprised to bump into one the following morning. I Set my awning up pulled up a log underneath it so I’d have a place to sit and view the valley below that leads towards Okanagan Lake. What a beautiful place. I wondered what the tree planter thought when he passed by me in the morning. He had obviously walked up from his cache of trees because I didn’t hear a vehicle pull up to drop him off or a quad, or anything. Or maybe I occasionally sleep that deeply. However, it was the clink clink….Stomp that woke me up.
Beginning of May 2009, I was preparing my very first road trip vehicle for my trip from Vancouver Island to Smithers BC where I would be tree planting with my friend Dan who hired me onto his crew. He would be my foreman for the month and a half that I planted and then quit because I couldn’t stand the work anymore. It was a 1989 Toyota LE Van 4×4. Kind of a rare machine these days It had a proper four wheel drive system, and enough space in the back to sleep and live out of very comfortably. It would also transport Dan, Brandon, their stuff, Derricks stuff, (He took the bus up) as well as me and all my stuff, semi comfortably, up the Fraser Canyon, to Prince George, and then on to Smithers. If I remember correctly it was a 22 hour trip and I drove as far as some little tiny place before I let Brandon take over because I was too tired to drive. I can’t remember if Dan drove. He seemed to be passed out in the back on the bed I built for the van.
It was my first ever long trip in a vehicle where I was doing most of the driving and I became hooked with the lures of the van life on this trip. To travel and live out of your own vehicle for an extended period of time is incredible. I thought that it was even cooler that I could work tree planting, and enjoy our days off exploring the local area, finding cool places in an area I had never been to before. Like I stated earlier, the work was terrible. Definitely not my type of work and I realize now that a lot of my issues of finding the job painful, probably stemmed from an injury I had on my back 4 years before. The experience was still so incredibly rewarding though.
I learned a lot about myself on that trip, got hooked on the open road and made it a goal to have a road trip per year ever since. I didn’t know that I was essentially overlanding at the time. I travelled and lived out of that van for 2 months which for me, seemed like such a long time to do that. I just never thought that one day, it would become a goal to travel and do this full time at some point later in my life.
I miss that van, I wish I had never sold it, but only for sentimental reasons. The van wasn’t hard to drive but it required that your attention level remained high. It was quirky as the geometry of the van gave it some interesting handling characteristics. Short wheel base, top heavy, cab over engine, meant that the front of the vehicle was heavy and the back was way too light. Even with my stuff on board. It was interesting to say the least but I loved its character. I can’t remember what I actually named it, but I remember a couple friends making comments about it being the “Shaggin wagon”, but there was none of that happening.
19 years old and not a care in the world. Just my van, my things and the open road. What more could a teen ask for. It feels so long ago to me but I see how I’ve developed as a person. I can see how that trip shaped me and started to push me towards dreams of full time overland travel which I am so earnestly working towards. Sometimes we look at our dreams and think about how cool it would be to do them, but we get caught up in life, doing things that pulls us farther away from them. For me, I feel like I am living my dreams though. I never understood how all my ideas could ever work together but the bigger you think the more you see how possible it actually is! I’m almost finished a mechanics apprenticeship that I thought would never happen because I was burned so badly by a dealership. I’ve lived out one dream to live in a camper van for a year to prove to myself that I could do it, I’m part way through my first major overland truck build, I’m camping for the summer and living out of another small vehicle practicing for the real thing. I’ve been told, “you’re living the dream Man”.
Yes I am, I’m living my dream, and while its never happened exactly the way I saw it 5 years ago, it’s happening. All the different bunny trails defining my goals, tweaking my ideas and even changing my dreams a little. As I learn more about myself by pursuing my dreams, I become more efficient at making them happen which brings me even closer to them. Every minute I am one step closer. A friend of mine once told me, “what are you doing today to make your dream happen tomorrow”? What he was trying to teach me was that sometimes all you can take is a small baby step one day, but the fact is, you took it and you’re making it happen. Even if it can’t come fast enough.
Thats something I want to touch on briefly. Are you rushing your plans? Are you forcing your dream to happen to the point of stressing about it? Because I have learned that this is a waste of money and mental energy. There is something to be said for pushing hard and making something happen as there is always a season for that but sometimes you just have to relax, holding your plans with open hands. Allow life, allow change, and be mouldable, you don’t have to accomplish something the same way someone else did. Be you, be unique, and if your plan is a little different, don’t be afraid of busting out and just doing it. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish!
I rolled up the awning on the car, packed up my things watched the lonely tree planter, plant off into the distance, doing his part to keep this world full of trees. Go make your dreams happen, even if you have to plant millions of trees. It’s worth it, so worth it, and don’t forget, ITS WORTH IT.

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