What to do on a snowy Saturday? The Trekkers venture into the Hills to hunt for the annual, family Christmas tree!
Remember a few weeks ago, when I lamented the early start to the Christmas season that seems to worsen with each passing year? Well, Thanksgiving is over folks! The tree is decorated, lights are sparkling (both inside and outside the house), and Trans-Siberian Orchestra is booming from the speakers. Christmas has now been fully embraced by the Trekker household! (I told ya I wasn’t a Grinch!) 🤶
I discussed the logistics of tree hunting in the Hills in a previous post. We have a favorite area we frequent, and no, I won’t tell you where it is! 😉 I will tell you this much, the mountains west of Deerfield have an abundance of spruce trees (assuming that’s the type you’re searching for.) Flag Mountain Road is one of our favorite routes that takes you to some good hunting spots. The difficulty with this location is that it usually receives some of the heavier snowfall in the Hills. Unless there’s been an unusual lack of snow that season, I would never suggest attempting these roads, that time of year, without a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. Even if there’s little to no snow in the lower elevations, what falls as rain in these locales often falls as snow in the higher portions of the Hills. And, as is true throughout the Black Hills, cell service in this area is often spotty (if it exists at all), so if you do get stuck and/or your vehicle becomes disabled, you may have a lengthy walk–possibly in deep snow–before you can call for help. Also, watch your step when you venture off the roads. The deep snow can easily hide stumps, downed trees and other deadfall that can trip you up.
We were comfortable attempting the drive in the snow because we knew where we were going as we’ve been to this location many times (once in even deeper snow). We also know the terrain well, such as which areas to avoid as the road winds through gullies that tend to drift. We had numerous options of recovery gear with us–and yes mom 😉–we had extra clothing in case we were stuck out for a lengthy period of time or needed to hike out to call for help. We also had bug-out plans if the conditions proved worse than we had anticipated.
I think this is the first time it’s been actively snowing while we were tree hunting. And–unusually, for a Hills’ snowstorm–there was little wind and the snow was actually heavy and wet (as opposed to sugary-powder). The way the snow blanketed the trees created an incredibly iconic scene. Click here for a short video of our trip out of the forest!
We wandered around one of our favorite hunting sites for a while…when both of us looked across the meadow, blanketed with fresh-fallen snow…and there we saw it. Standing on the border between meadow and forest, with its MUCH larger brothers towering in the background. We had a true “Griswold Family Christmas Tree” moment (and yes, Trekker family tradition dictates we watch that movie the night we go tree huting to start off the Christmas season.) 😉
The tree is perfect! It’s one of the fullest and best-shaped ones that we’ve hunted (just don’t look too closely at the back, it kinda looks like Cookie Monster took a bite out of it 😂.) A word of warning if you’re going tree hunting in the Hills. These are not “tree lot” or “tree farm” trees. These are “free-range” trees that have to fight for sunlight around others growing near them and may have to repair themselves after storm or animal damage. It’s extremely rare that you’ll ever find the “perfect” tree, but you’ll know when you find the “right” tree. It calls to you. The experience of trekking out to the wilds to acquire a tree from its natural habitat is incredibly exhilarating. It speaks to the instinctual lumberjack who’s hiding in the deepest, darkest depths of all of us. 😉 It’s also a fun, family activity. As I mentioned earlier, there’s little cell service out there, so gather the kids up in the “old family sleigh” and head out for some good, old fashioned–sans-technology–family time!
…just don’t forget the saw! 😳
See below for pics of our adventure, thanks, as usual, to Mr. Trekker for several of these!