Raul Mora Avalos - is a Hook Tender on a high lead logging operation. His answer to my question, ‘What do you like most about working in the woods?’ was “When I get home and my little girl runs and jumps into my arms and says, ‘Hello sweet daddy’.”
Near Fort Bragg, California, 2004
David Paul Bayles is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. These images are from his project ‘ Sap In Their Veins‘. To see David’s body of work click on any image.
Jim Nelson – is a timber faller. In the portrait of him his hard hat has many layers of masking tape with numbers on them. The calculations keep track of how many board feet of timber he has cut in a day. It is like his ‘time clock. Each log is measured by diameter and length and written on the tape. He is paid not by the hour but by how many board feet of timber he cuts. In the other picture he is in one of the more dangerous moments of felling a tree. Often limbs are breaking off and flying around (called ‘widow makers’) and on rare occasion a tree may not go down as planned. McCloud area of Northern California 1988
Jake Gregg – is a timber faller. In this picture he is cutting one of two trees that have, over time, grown together. Normally they cut the tree off as close to the ground as possible so they do not waste the tree, but in this case he has to cut above where the two trees have grown apart. McCloud area of Northern California 1987
Manny – is a knot bumper who lost his arm when the cat-skinner was in the wrong gear. He backed up instead of going forward as Manny had instructed him to with hand signals. The cat pinched his arm off between the hub of its wench and the end of the log. Like many injured loggers, Manny healed up and went back to work in the woods. Western Sierra Nevada near Calaveras County 1977.
Caulked Boot – Loggers often walk on the fallen logs up and down steep terrain. Caulked boots were designed to give them traction. Loggers call them ‘corks’. McCloud area of Norther California 1987
James Lee Wilson – is a skidder operator. This machine has two large ‘grapples’ that work hydraulically to pinch the end of a fallen and bucked log. Depending on the size of the log and the power of the skidder he can sometimes pull more than one log grappled together. They are pulled into the landing where the knots are bumped, they are branded and then eventually loaded onto a truck and hauled to the mill. Western Sierra Nevada near Calaveras County 2004
Donald Bruce Cash – works in the landing helping the loader operator. His job is called a knot bumper or landing man. He cuts off any knots or branches that are left on the logs and hits the end of each log with a big steel branding hammer. Each gyppo logger has their own brand so the mill can scale the log and pay the gyppo according to their contract. Western Sierra Nevada near Calaveras County 2004
Ron Rector – is a loader operator. In the mid seventies when I worked in the woods Ron was the loader operator and Manny was his knot bumper. They ran a smooth landing working together with just hand signals and a kind of seamless integration of effort that some times happens with men and machines. Western Sierra Nevada near Calaveras County 2004
Robert Ambrosini – is a loader operator. He has just told the story of how he lost his front teeth. The story involved too much beer and flying fists. Western Sierra Nevada near Calaveras County 2004
By David Paul Bayles
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