Word from the Woods: All in a Day’s Work

When I dreamed of living in the woods, my fantasies did not include generator operation, maintenance, and repair. But living alone in my cabin, with no road access and no cell service, far from my nearest neighbor, I need some way to communicate with the outside world. My little generator powers my satellite Internet and charges my laptop. It would be a lifeline for me in case of emergency, but I have to admit that its operation has proven to be an ongoing learning process. Earlier this week, I inadvertently flooded the spark plug, and I realized I didn’t have the appropriate wrench to remove it, nor was I sure how to dry the plug even if I did.

The next day felt like a marathon. In the morning, I loaded the 50-plus pound generator onto my gear sled and strapped my microspikes onto my boots. I pulled the generator two and a third miles across the ice of First Roach Pond to a public boat launch, then another mile and a half up a gravel road to where my Subaru was parked (nearly four miles total). My first stop was West Branch Pond Camps, where co-owner Eric Stirling kindly demonstrated how to dry a wet spark plug. But the generator still wouldn’t start – I needed to replace the plug.

So I headed off to the nearest town, Greenville, about 25 miles distant, and to the NAPA store. There, I bought a new spark plug plus a spare, and the wrench to handle them. The very helpful sales rep supervised me as I installed the new plug – but yet again, the generator failed to start.

Next, I took it to a local expert in small engine repair, who gave me another lesson. When I tried to start the generator in the NAPA parking lot, I engaged the choke, as I usually do – but post-flooding, this was a mistake. To my tremendous relief, my generator was now good to go.

I decided to take advantage of this unplanned town trip to pick up my mail and get some supplies, and, of course, I needed to get something to eat to fuel my muscles on my trek back home. By the time I drove back to the boat launch, it was well after dark. I dropped the generator and supplies at the launch so I could do the mile and a half roadwalk from my parking spot without pulling them (at that hour, I didn’t expect anyone would be driving by who might take them).

I parked my car, walked back to the boat launch, and at long last, started across the ice toward home, generator and supplies in tow. The temperature was relatively warm by Maine Woods standards – probably in the range of 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit – and there was almost no wind. There was no moon, so the night was dark. But the frozen surface of the pond reflected the faint glow of starlight, and the constellations helped me navigate the two and a third miles across the ice back to my shore, which lies below and just a little east of the North Star.

When I finally reached my cabin, about 10:30 PM, I needed to get the fire going, and split and haul wood to fill my nearly-empty rack. The day was surely strenuous, but I felt good nonetheless. I found helpful people and nature’s beauty to sustain me along the way. And I’m now better prepared to deal with future generator issues on my own.

Please join me on Facebook for a live video chat this coming Sunday, March 6, at 7 PM! This is your chance to ask me questions in real time. Or, if you prefer, you may send questions in advance by replying to this blog notification, by sending me a private Facebook message, or by posting your question in the event discussion. https://www.facebook.com/events/491156692476243

A view toward the public boat launch from my shore on First Roach Pond. Taken at sunrise, February 7, 2015.

Related Posts