Sunday, July 25, 2021

Video 21, The hard part, Shaping the Handle

The 'Chestnut Liberation' hiking stick's unruly root system begins its transformation into the unique handle.

PJ's workshop this time is a rock among the rambling rapids of Stoney Creek, biggest and noisiest of the Three Creeks at the Cloister.

He begins the process with a compass saw. The shaping of the handle starts by removing the obviously unwanted roots. Then the artistic process begins, with each new cut being chosen as the handle evolves.

Video uploaded for PJ Wetzel by F.I.T. Wilderness, VLC


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Video 20, Sho' 'nuff - we got a peeler

PJ begins to prepare his 'Chestnut Liberation' hiking stick. The setting (his 'workshop') is his favorite place at the Cloister - the cool, shady glen beside the St. Francis statue, with the endless sound of Flat Rock Creek providing soothing background.

He begins by removing the bark. As he explains, there are two ways this can be done: the easy way and the hard way. Which will it be?

Video uploaded for PJ Wetzel by F.I.T. Wilderness VLC


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Video 19, Harvesting the Hiking Stick

The 'Chestnut Liberation' Hiking stick starts its journey from obscure forest understory red maple (Acer rubrum) sapling, with dominant trees above it giving it few long-term prospects, to a cherished walking stick for the old Hermit.

PJ shows the simple process of freeing the small tree from the soil, keeping its major root system intact. It is the bent and twisted root of the tree that provides the hiking stick with its unique handle and with its ultimate distinctive 'look'.

In future videos PJ will describe the process of shaping the raw material into a special walking aid for an old man as he rambles about the grounds of the Cloister at Three Creeks and beyond.

Video uploaded for PJ Wetzel by F.I.T. Wilderness, VLC

Monday, July 19, 2021

Video 18, Chestnut Liberation

The Chestnut blight fungus, introduced from Europe early in the 20th century, has completely removed the American Chestnut as a primary forest species in the eastern US. The loss has had a devastating effect on eastern wild landscapes. But there's an amazing story of hope for natural Chestnut recovery. The fungus that attacks the trees kills only the growth above ground, and does not kill the roots. The American Chestnut is able to re-sprout new growth from the roots, and many such sprouts continue to thrive in the understory of the eastern woods. Some of these trees' root systems have lived more than a century in this diminished state and show no signs of giving up. When they are exposed to sunlight, they can even grow large enough to flower and produce viable seed (the delicious chestnut) before the Chestnut blight fungus attacks and kills it back.

The grounds of the Cloister at Three Creeks has at least half a dozen of such sprouting chestnut trees in the forest understory, and here PJ discusses plans to give them a little human assistance in growing to the size where they can produce seed. Every seed produced is one more chance that American Chestnut will evolve natural blight resistance. It may take centuries, but nature does not work on human time scales. This is the story of hope and recovery that PJ presents.

Video Uploaded for PJ Wetzel by F.I.T. Wilderness, VLC


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Video 17, Little Things, Big Mysteries

One of the most bizarre discoveries at the Cloister at Three Creeks was this statue of St. Francis of Assisi lying face-down in Flat Rock Creek deep in the wilds of a natural woodland. How did he get there? How long had he been lying there? From the weathering of the concrete on his hooded head (which was pointed upstream), and the growth of moss on his back, the answer to the second question is unquestionably many, many years. If only he could talk, and tell us the tale of how he came to be abandoned and forgotten deep in the woods so long, long ago ...

The video contains a few other stories, ones that nature tells, the kind that PJ is always seeking out.

Video uploaded for PJ Wetzel by F.I.T. Wilderness, VLC


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Video 16, Rain

A little practical joke.

Pretty much self explanatory, no?

A sudden shower hits the Cloister at Three Creeks. Very sudden.

Video uploaded for PJ Wetzel by F.I.T. Wilderness VLC

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Video 15 A short walk on Stoney Creek

Stoney Creek is the largest of the 'Three Creeks' that surround the Cloister. Here PJ takes a little walk next to some of the noisy white water. The video is chopped short because his camera battery ran out. But the intended experience was complete, so here it is.

Video uploaded for PJ Wetzel by F.I.T. Wilderness, VLC