The three week hurdle.

April 3, 2008

As the title alludes, your third week of planting will be the biggest hurdle of your rookie season. The infamous third cycle is known throughout the planting world, and is marked by a peak in bitching, whining, and usually quitting. The reason, which is often overlooked by quitting rookies, is that the third week is not only when you peak in physical pain, but also in mental suffering as you battle up the learning curve. Your body has been adjusting for 3 weeks, and is just getting to the point where you will start to develop your bush legs, but not quite. Be patient. Take it from someone who’s been there, the rest day at the end of the third cycle will be the tipping point in your planting career. If you can make it to the 4th cycle, you will most likely finish the season. You will also be reaching the gradual plateau of a learning curve with a steep beginning, but slowly climbing tail.

My advice to you is to recognize that this will be your toughest week. Recognize that the pain, and mental frustration that you are experiencing this week will pass, and if you can conquer this, the most difficult of cycles, the rest of your season will be easy. The money will come, your crew will bond, and you will become a person you’ve never known before.


41 Things to bring planting.

February 25, 2008

1. Watch – so you can be crazy and time your bag outs, and so you don’t stay in your land forever and not know when its quitting time! (want a digital one with a time, just pick up a cheap one!)
2. Notebook and pen – to keep track to totals/numbers
3. Tupperware (for lunch, needs to be pretty big – I’m talking enough for 2-3 sandwiches, some apples and oranges and lunch treats)
4. Rain gear – should be waterproof and breathable, but this type of jacket can get pricey, a normal rain jacket that’s just waterproof is better than nothing
5. Long underwear – top and bottom, it gets chilly at night for awhile
6. Some sort of polypropelene shirt – long sleeve,
7. At least one fleece sweater thing, and bring other sweaters to wear in camp and at night –wool is good too to have for warmth. (bring at least 2 crappy fleece and wool sweaters to wear to block and then you’ll want a couple to wear around camp at the end of the day. Old down vests are good to bring too)
8. Plate, knife, fork, spoon, cup/mug/nalgene
9. Water container = big one at least 6 litres. Can get a big blue plastic round water jug – 10 litres at Canadian tire. Don’t bring plastic bag kind! Can bring big therma jug that people take on picnics – don’t hold as much water and are more expensive!
10. Sun screen and lip stuff with spf in it!
11. Bug dope – should have some deet in it
12. Band aids/ tensors, polysporn, foot bandaids, second skin ***important**
13. Baby wipes – keeps you clean!
14. Bandanas = good to wear under hard hats
15. Benadryl, tylenol, cold stuff (no pharmacy in camp)
16. Quick dry pants – cargos or mec pants (1 or 2 pairs)
17. Gators (optional, you can get these at mec to keep your boots dry and protect your legs, I’ve never personally used them)
18. Warm sleeping bag and bring extra blankets
19. Therma rest or foamy thing to sleep on (can get these at mec or any outdoor store, can get foamy thing at canadian tire) **important for comfort and warmth!
20. Pillow –camping one (little small one that barely fits your head) or normal one!
21. Tent with a vestibule (area at front and/or back of your tent covered by your tent fly to keep your equipment in like stinky boots that you don’t want inside your tent) – as long as you can fit yourself and your stuff in it, size doesn’t matter. Usually people aim for a big 2 man, or a 3 or 4 person tent!
22. Hats, mits, warm fleece stuff – we’re not going anywhere tropical!
23. Winter jacket (wont be wearing it planting hopefully but, good to have for in camp and days off)
24. Light long sleeve shirt, preferably light colour to wear when its hot and bugs come out
25. Nothing blue= the bugs will love you! (no blue hard hat, pants etc)
26. Back pack – need a day pack to take with you to the block everyday, needs to be big enough to fit lunch in, some extra clothes, rain gear and anything else you’ll need at the block in a day!
27. Gloves – working gloves = good to have for reefers (unloading of trees) and for your shovel hand
28. Nitridex gloves… they are a thin glove with a lot of grip and you can still feel your tree. This isn’t necessary but they save your hands from cuts.
29. Duct tape!!!!!!!! AND LOTS OF IT, THIS WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE !
30. Rope – to tie tarps up with
31. 2 tarps – one to go under your tent(just needs to be as big as the bottom of your tent) and one to go over your tent, (to protect it from sun and other types of weather)
32. Day off clothes – jeans, shirts, sweaters etc that are what you normally wear!
33. Dry sack – good to put sleeping bag in to make sure it doesn’t get wet and to take to the block on rainy days to keep all your stuff dry (can get this at mec)
34. Music – mini discs, mp3 players, cd’s, walkmans, discmans – helps calm people down after long days, remember though they could get ruined. Some people plant with music but after about a week they’ve been through everything and start to go mad! We also have a stereo in camp that we usually rock out to every morning and night so you can play your cds as long as everybody likes your music.
35. Alarm clock – only if you’re the deepest sleeper ever and think that you’ll sleep through a horn being blared 10 feet from your tent for 5 minutes, music, and 70 other people getting up and telling you to get out of your tent! (sometimes this does happen)
36. Flashlight or headlamp (headlamp good to have if you plan on reading at night and makes it easier to find your stuff in the pitch black)
37. Don’t forget your tree planting equipment – shovel, bags, hi-vis, steel toed boots, and hard hat! **very important***
38. Bring other shoes – running shoes, flip flops, Birkenstocks etc for days off and after planting, some people even bring flip flops to the block because your feet get really sore after planting all day and you might want to get out of your boots asap!
39. Wool socks, I would definitely recommend Merino Wool socks – these things will save your life. You can buy them in bulk off They prevent blisters, they don’t smell, they wisk sweat away. They’re pretty much the best things ever. Bring at least 6 pairs of them.
40. Camping foldable canadian tire chairs – a really nice luxury and it beats sitting on boxes around the campfire
** This is just a list I made of things that are good to bring. You don’t have to bring everything on the list, but these things can definitely come in handy. Definitely don’t cut corners too much as this will hurt your planting numbers. As well we will be in town on days off and if you forget to get anything you can pick stuff up then. There will be most likely a Canadian Tire, some sort of outdoor store, a drug store etc in town. As well a lot of people have been asking about how much stuff to bring. I usually end up bringing two medium sized duffel bags and a giant tupperware bin. But I feel like I might overpack a bit! Don’t go crazy because you may not get all your stuff on a plane if you are flying 20Kg is usually the max per bag, and unpacking and packing can take forever if you have tons of stuff! It also doesn’t really matter what you pack your stuff in. Sometimes I just throw my tarps etc in garbage bags. I’d recommend duffel bags, or hockey bags. Mec has some good ones for a fair price that I’m going to pick up this year, but in the past I’ve just taken whatever I found around my house. This list is pretty much just an elaboration on the outland list which is in the crew area part of the website in the planter’s manual. So make sure to have a lookster at it! Happy packing.

List provided by Gregg Geir. Many thanks.

Gear Part 3

January 21, 2008

So you’ve had a good sleep, worked hard all day, and are finally at the end of a hard 5 day cycle and you’re ready for some down time. Nights off are spent doing what ever you want: chilling, relaxing, drinking, socializing, playing music… choose your own adventure! Depending on how close you are to town, nights off can often consist of a trip to a crappy motel, and partying at the local watering hole. A good way to decompress after a week of hard work, these nights out can fun, but also costly costly. If you have come planting to pad your bank account, you will probably want to limit the amount of in town nights.
Days off usually consist of sleeping in… sort of, packing the crew in the truck and heading into down for a big breakfast, laundry, email checking, maybe hitting the pool (if there is one), and all around chilling and relaxing.

A few things to consider when packing about days off:

Town clothes. Though we will be living in the wild, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to look it. Your everyday clothes will function just fine, though there is an unspoken assumption that in-camp relaxing clothes are allowed to be as crazy as you want.

Bathing suit and towel.
Laundry bag (or some kind of bag to haul your dirty clothes around)
Comfortable shoes
Anything else you require to relax

Gear Part 2

January 3, 2008


To continue from the last post, the next place you will be spending a majority of your time is on the block. If you scroll down, you will see a post written by a crew mate of mine Robin who very nicely summarized the average planting day. I am going to elaborate on that synopsis a little with the gear used in mind.

Your day will start with an alarm of some kind. If you’re like me, you will probably slap the snooze a few times. It will take about 1-2 weeks to calculate exactly how long you can sleep and still get all your chow in and gear prep’d for the day ahead. (TIP: Fill your water and lay out all your clothes etc. the night before)

After wake up, it’s get dressed and pee time, not always in that order. If you have laid out all your clothing the night before, this part will be easy. (TIP: putting clothing in the bottom of your sleeping bag will keep it warm. No one likes putting on cold clothing in the morning.) Clothing is again a very personal comfort related decision. Keep in mind that Prince George has one of the best Value Village’s (VV) I’ve ever seen, and anything you wear-out can be replenished for a few bucks. My daily attire consists of:

Cheap cotton T-shirt
Longsleeve T-shirt
VV rugby shirt
Polypro underwear (Keeps the swamp ass at bay)
MEC climbing pants (Pricey, but they dry super fast and are light and durable)
Gators (personal preference, but work well with shorts and keep your boots in better shape for longer.<-always a plus!)
Smart wool socks, or a polypro + wool layer combo
Bombproof hiking boots (Mine were Zamberlan’s and were amazing<-more on boots later)

Keep in mind that this is the system that worked for me. You will have your own preferences on materials and warmth. I liked my set up because it allowed me to regulate for temperature very easily by shedding layers.

Your next move in the morning is to grab your day bag and head to the lunch or breakfast line. Your day bag should be as waterproof as possible and more importantly, animal proof. Ravens and foxes in the north are very crafty, especially when your lunch is involved. Also remember that this bag will be tossed in and out of dirty trucks constantly and will take a beating. My weapon of choice is a heavy-duty dry bag (the type you’d take canoeing) with backpack straps for the dreaded walk-ins. Your day bag should include, but is no limited to the following:

TOILET PAPER in a ziplock bag (This stuff is worth more than gold in the bush, and TP left unattended is fair game. Guard it with your life)
Bug dope (Watkins cream is king)
Rain gear
Duct tape (Note: All duct tapes are not created equal. As a rule of thumb, you pay for what you get. The pro stuff is better)
Hat for the sun

In the lunch trailer, you pack you fuel for the day, again it’s up to you, but remember you are what you eat (long live the PB & J). I bring a big tupperwear container to store my lunch. Some people just use the empty bread bags, but if you’d like your artfully crafted PB & J to still resemble a sandwich when it comes time to eat it, I’d suggest bringing a hard container of some sort.

Your next move is to breakfast where you load a jail tray with as much food as you can stomach. A luxury item here is a good travel mug for hot coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc. Nice to have for the longer drives to the block.

With your stomach full, your lunch packed, and 8-10L of water in your jugs (usually old milk or juice jugs, though some people bring the insulated versions as well), you jump in the truck and head to the block.


Planting gear consists of:

Planting bags
Silvicool inserts (x2)
Flagging tape
Plot cord
Silvicool trap
Hand covering (Duct tape, gloves, nothing… it’s up to you.)

And that about sums up the planting part of your day as far as gear goes. Again, follow the lists provided in the previous post, and you should be good to go.

Gear Part 1

January 3, 2008

Tree planting gear is as much a personal preference thing as anything else. Comfort, functionality, and durability are king when it comes to what gear to choose. This post will provide advice to keep in mind when selecting which gear you bring. I like to break down the planting experience into what I consider the 3 things you will be doing with your time: SLEEPING, WORKING, and RELAXING.

We start with SLEEPING because it is probably the most important tool you have to keeping your self healthy and sane in the bush. If you are not getting good quality sleep at night, everything (and everyone) else will suffer.

The nights at the beginning of the spring contract (and most of the summer for that matter) will drop below freezing. Gear that is essential to keeping you warm while sleeping consists of:

2 winter rated sleeping bags, one to go inside the other
Warm blanket
Long underwear
Wool socks
Comfortable pillow
Sleeping bag liner (Much easier to wash than a whole sleeping bag, especially after a hard week when you were too tired to shower)
Air mattress (Note: This must be insulated from the ground somehow. A cheap foamy on top of an air mattress will stop the cold from creeping through your mattress.)

Also, the size of your tent will determine how warm you are at night. A smaller tent hold the heat better, but may become a pain in the ass after having to get dressed with a hunch back all season. Conversely, a big tent will give you lots of space, but you’ll need extra warm sleeping bags, and maybe more blankets.

Other things to think about for sleeping time:

Flashlight, I prefer a head lamp, it’s easier for middle of the night pees.
Easily accessible toilet paper
Book(s), Ipod, etc.

Gear Lists

January 3, 2008

Here are a few links to some very thorough gear lists.

All the above links are great resources for getting you prepared for planting. The Nata link includes some prices from last year to give you a ball park of what you can expect to pay for brand new gear. If cost is an issue for you I highly recommend getting used equipment. You can save a bunch of money and pain, as broken in gear is WAY more comfortable than shiny new gear.

Both and give a good background behind the reasoning for selecting certain types of gear over others.

It’s all about the green, and I dont mean the trees.

November 15, 2007

If you are going to be working for me as a tree planter, there are some things you need to know about me and my management style. I am a lead by example kind of guy. If you know me, you know I work hard, and it is my promise to you as my crew that I will work as hard as I can to ensure that you are always in a position to make the most money you can. As a foreman, I get paid based on how productive you are as a crew. Basically, the more money you make, the more money I make… and to be honest, I want to make lots money this season. Therefor, I will be pushing you everyday to work towards the potential that only tree planting will bring out in you. I hope to push you to reach and surpass limits you never knew you had, you may at times hate me, thats OK, your bank account however will thank me.

All that being said, tree planting is not a job for everyone. It is consistently ranked as one of the hardest jobs in Canada for a reason, it is hard work! You will on a daily basis have to overcome physical and mental stress that, if you are a rookie, you have never experienced before. As a student of psychology, I have learned ad nauseum that everyone is motivated by different things. As a veteran highballer, I can tell you that if making money is not your prime motivation for going planter, perhaps you should consider another summer job. The good times and great experiences that you hear planters talking about are usually had by those who are pounding every day and making tons of cash. DO NOT GO PLANTING FOR THE EXPERIENCE… come for the money, and the experience will take care of itself.