Ax throw, log climb at Adirondack lumberjack class - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Ax throw, log climb at Adirondack lumberjack class

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Mike Groll). In this July 10, 2014 photo, Tommy Grunow of Riverside, Conn., peels the bark from a white pine log at the Adirondack Woodsmen's School at Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll). In this July 10, 2014 photo, Tommy Grunow of Riverside, Conn., peels the bark from a white pine log at the Adirondack Woodsmen's School at Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, N.Y.
(AP Photo/Mike Groll). In this July 10, 2014 photo, Bevin Rainwalker, left, of West Rupert, Vt., and Liam Gilbert of Blue Bell, Penn., saw a log at the cross cut station at the Adirondack Woodsmen's School at Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll). In this July 10, 2014 photo, Bevin Rainwalker, left, of West Rupert, Vt., and Liam Gilbert of Blue Bell, Penn., saw a log at the cross cut station at the Adirondack Woodsmen's School at Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, N.Y.
(AP Photo/Mike Groll). In this July 10, 2014 photo, Zach Brown, a guest athlete, demonstrates the boom run for students during Adirondack Woodsmen's School at Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll). In this July 10, 2014 photo, Zach Brown, a guest athlete, demonstrates the boom run for students during Adirondack Woodsmen's School at Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, N.Y.
(AP Photo/Mike Groll). In this July 10, 2014 photo, Emily Eidman, of New City, N.Y., performs the boom run on Lower St. (AP Photo/Mike Groll). In this July 10, 2014 photo, Emily Eidman, of New City, N.Y., performs the boom run on Lower St.
(AP Photo/Mike Groll). In this July 10, 2014 photo, Madison Lemoine, of Chepachet, R.I., checks the tape on her fingers before using a hand saw on a log at the Adirondack Woodsmen's School at Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll). In this July 10, 2014 photo, Madison Lemoine, of Chepachet, R.I., checks the tape on her fingers before using a hand saw on a log at the Adirondack Woodsmen's School at Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, N.Y.
  • NationalMore>>

  • American Jews, other 'lone soldiers' serve Israel

    American Jews, other 'lone soldiers' serve Israel

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 6:13 AM EDT2014-07-22 10:13:34 GMT
    By JULIE WATSON Associated Press The two Americans killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip followed in the footsteps of scores of Jews from around the world who have volunteered to fight for Israel.
    By JULIE WATSON Associated Press The two Americans killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip followed in the footsteps of scores of Jews from around the world who have volunteered to fight for Israel.
  • GOP voters in Ga. to decide Senate nominee

    GOP voters in Ga. to decide Senate nominee

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:04 AM EDT2014-07-22 09:04:39 GMT
    After a bruising nine-week runoff campaign, Georgia Republicans will finally have their Senate nominee who will compete against Democrat Michelle Nunn for a seat the GOP can ill afford to lose as the party looks to...
    After a bruising nine-week runoff campaign, Georgia Republicans will finally have their Senate nominee who will compete against Democrat Michelle Nunn for a seat the GOP can ill afford to lose as the party looks to take...
  • Hopkins pays $190M in pelvis exam pix settlement

    Hopkins pays $190M in pelvis exam pix settlement

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 4:41 AM EDT2014-07-22 08:41:47 GMT
    For Myra James, the process of going to the gynecologist is now too much to bear.
    For Myra James, the process of going to the gynecologist is now too much to bear.
By MICHAEL HILL
Associated Press

PAUL SMITHS, N.Y. (AP) - Ax throwing is encouraged in lumberjack class. It's also OK to dump your classmate in the lake - as long as you're both frantically trying to stay upright on a floating log.

The annual Adirondack Woodsmen's School is being held this summer amid the tall pines and placid waters of Paul Smith's College. Despite the course's name, there are no bushy beards here, no flannel shirts, no suspenders, no oxen.

Instead, 18 young students in matching gray sports shirts took part recently in a weeklong crash course on old-school lumberjack skills such as sawing, chopping, ax throwing, log boom running and pole climbing. While the course is for college credit, many participants echo Tommy Grunow, who said he wanted to learn the "lost art of lumberjacking."

"I looked at the list of what we'd be doing ... and I got to ax throwing and I lost it. I had to come," said the incoming Paul Smith's freshman from Riverside, Connecticut.

Paul Smith's focuses on environmental studies, and the woodsmen's summer curriculum includes the "history of axes" and the "art and science of hand-hewing logs," but there's also a lot of fun stuff with axes and saws.

On a recent afternoon at a lakeside clearing on campus, students strapped spikes around their boots to scramble up a 45-foot pole and raised long-handled axes over their heads, executioner style, to send the tools tumbling into a bull's-eye painted on a log end. They sawed solo with a bow saw and in pairs with a 6-foot crosscut saw. They practiced their underhand chop, which required them to stand on the log they were axing (with metal booties to protect against errant swings).

"It's like a brave new world out here," Liam Gilbert, of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, said with a smile. "I had not thrown an ax, and on my first throw I managed to break a handle. So I have not thrown one since."

Later on at the lake, the students, in their late teens and 20s, took turns trying to dash across a log boom stretching from the shore and climbed on a floating log two at a time to see whose fast footwork could keep him or her vertical on the spinning lumber the longest.

Instructor Brett McLeod oversaw all of it, offering occasional tips on fluid ax swings or crosscut techniques. McLeod is a former logger who chopped and sawed in woodsmen competitions, as do some of these students. Late in the afternoon, he divvied up the students into relay teams involving cutting, climbing and throwing, which looked sort of like the Hunger Games as imagined by Paul Bunyan. The races hone students' timber sports skills, though McLeod sees a larger value in the course.

Students, he said, will need these skills if they go on to work as park rangers in wilderness areas that don't allow mechanized equipment. Others could use their newfound skills to build their own log cabins. And all of them will get a (calloused) hands-on experience about natural-resources management and the history of the Adirondacks, where loggers have been swinging axes for centuries.

"The idea was basically to get students to think about things besides video games and really sort of bring them back to nature," McLeod said.

The first one-week course is for beginners, with more advanced training this week. Many students will attend both weeks. The first week's group included three female students. One, Madison Lemoine, of Chepachet, Rhode Island, said she's used to competing with males in lumberjack competitions.

"It's tough, actually. You have big guys, and I'm like, 'OK, give me an ax, and I'll do my best.' But you just try as hard as you can," she said. "It's like God's fury raining down with that ax. You put in everything you have."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • InternationalMore>>

  • Parents of abducted girls, escapees meet president

    Parents of abducted girls, escapees meet president

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:31 AM EDT2014-07-22 11:31:20 GMT
    President Goodluck Jonathan is meeting with many parents of the 219 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls and some classmates who managed to escape from Islamic extremists.
    President Goodluck Jonathan is meeting with many parents of the 219 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls and some classmates who managed to escape from Islamic extremists.
  • Amid sanctions, France in warship sale to Russia

    Amid sanctions, France in warship sale to Russia

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:21 AM EDT2014-07-22 11:21:35 GMT
    French President Francois Hollande is defending plans to deliver a warship to Russia, despite calls for a European arms embargo against Moscow over the fighting in Ukraine.
    French President Francois Hollande is defending plans to deliver a warship to Russia, despite calls for a European arms embargo against Moscow over the fighting in Ukraine.
  • Jakarta governor Widodo wins Indonesian election

    Jakarta governor Widodo wins Indonesian election

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:21 AM EDT2014-07-22 11:21:31 GMT
    Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto says he rejects the election process and accused it of being unfair as nearly complete results showed his opponent Jakarta governor Joko Widodo leading with 52...
    The final tally in Indonesia's presidential election shows that Jakarta governor Joko Widodo has won with 53 percent of the vote.