Time to cut a Christmas tree
It seems silly, when we live in the land of Christmas trees, to buy a tree. It’s more fun to walk to the Visitors’ Center on Main Street in Markleeville, where the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Forest Service share space, and purchase a tree-cutting permit for $10, from Lee Miller, information receptionist for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest,
Then the fun really begins. Ann Robinson Molinari and husband Dino recently cut their Christmas tree in the Leviathan Tree Cutting Area by driving up Monitor Pass and following paved Haypress Flat Road a short distance.
Though Molinari lives in the Bay area, she grew up in Markleeville and returns every year to “find my perfect tree.” While the couple sawed down a 6-foot fir, their children, Forrest, Ann and Foxx, enjoyed sipping hot chocolate in the Markleeville home of their grandparents, Forrest and Karen Robinson.
The rules are simple. To cut a Christmas tree in designated National Forest System Lands, purchase a permit from the Carson Ranger District office in Markleeville or Carson City and take along your tag, regulations, and map of signed, permitted areas.
Don’t even think of going off road in a motorized vehicle, though you might think about skiing or snowshoeing and pulling a sled. Your “perfect tree” must be within ten feet of another green tree, and the resulting stump may not be any higher than six inches above the bare soil. Immediately after cutting your tree, attach the green tag in a visible location, because you wouldn’t want your tree confiscated, and especially you wouldn’t want to be imprisoned for six months or fined $5,000.
Recent icy rains, snow, and heavy winds have contributed to the annual loss of dried leaves from aspen trees, with their once-spectacular colorations fading from our memories. However, recollections of a dinner conversation about aspen trees in the Long’s Markleeville home a few years ago, have not faded.
Included in the guest list of cook Jim Long, was Don Miller, who has a cabin directly across the road. Between bites and sips of the food and wine, Long and Miller started talking about their deceased fathers, the former owners of their vacation houses.
“My dad (Bill Long) was always jealous of all of the aspen trees your dad (Al Miller) grew on his property,” Long said. “Over and over, Bill tried to plant aspens, to no avail. He always attempted to learn about the method used by your dad to transplant young aspens, but he never did. Now, after all of this time, will you reveal Al’s secret?”
“Easy,” Miller replied chuckling. “Al had a dump truck, and he would go up on Monitor Pass, when the crew was widening the road, and load his truck with dirt to fill in the steep depression on his lot next to Markleeville Creek. That dirt was chock-full of aspen seedlings and runners. It was a win-win situation.
“According to my dad, the one aspen tree that Bill succeeded in nursing along through autumn, winter, and spring didn’t survive.
One morning, Bill looked out his window and was astounded to see a bear rubbing himself on the lone aspen tree, and that old bear kept on until no more leaves remained.”
n Gina Gigli is a Markleeville resident.