So this week we’ll be taking our second trip to the property. It’s not actually ours yet. We have an accepted offer, financing, and are progressing toward closing. However the bank that owns the property is quite behind on doing the things they agreed to. So we’re in a bit of a holding pattern. Neither of us has ever built a house before, so we’re sort of learning about the process as we go. There’s a lot to do, and it all has to be done in a certain order with all the proper permits. We’re just getting a handle on this now and are beginning to wonder whether it might be worth just hiring a general contractor to work through the details. This week’s trip is in part to make that sort of decision, and in part to let our son Will see the property. Thus far he’s only seen pictures. I think he’s going to like it, a lot.
So let’s start with the basics. When we say “Big Woods” we mean 70 acres of forest in the foothills of the Cascade mountains. The land is gently to moderately sloped with several streams running through it. At least two of the streams are year round, we aren’t yet sure about the others. Because of the streams, about half of the land is protected as wetland or buffer area. The land was logged some time in the late 90s except for the buffers on the two main streams. However, large trees were left scattered throught the rest of the lot. This combined with the “copicing” of many large bigleaf maples and a generous rainfall has the regrowth beyond where one might expect it at this stage. The stream buffers typical of climax forest in the area. The predominant conifer is Western Red Cedar mixed with a smattering of Western Hemlock and Douglas Fir. Deciduous trees are mainly a mix of Bigleaf Maple and Alder, there’s a healthy dose of Vine Maple in the under-story. And then there are the brambles. The logged areas are thick with Himalayan Blackberry, or, as we like to call it, “Kudzu of the West”. Some of the thickets are beginning to be shaded out by the regrowing trees, but even there, the remaining vines are treacherous. The older parts of the forest are thick with their own brambles, Salmonberry.