Three years. Three years I walked over this tree. Although it was a spectacular specimen, I deemed it uncollectable. Actually it was very collectable. A stiff breeze could move this tree from the shallow crevice it called home. The issue I had with it was the root pad, if you could call it that. It was maybe the size of a fist. One above the tree and one below it.
This last spring on I was collecting on the ridge where this ponderosa called home. I passed by it, as I had in the past. The only thought I gave it was too bad it wouldn't survive.
I spent most the day on this ridge with my son and my mom working on trees. My son asked me if I would collect a tree for him. I agreed and told him to pick out a tree and if it was collectable I would get it for him. Yep, you guessed it. He went straight to that tree gave it a wiggle and said "dad this is the tree". I had a lengthy discussion with him about how the health of the tree wasn't very strong and that the expectation of surviving a collection just wasn't there. He was persistent and I gave in and told him to prepare himself for the tree to not make it.
I took great care to collect what little roots were there, spending the time disparaging the logic of collecting a tree bound to die. Complicating the collection was the fact the root pads were attached to long roots away from the trunk. After a short time the deed was done. It was collected. I wrapped it up tight and carried it and the other trees off the mountain.
A few days later the tree was planted in pumice and in a five gallon bucket. It was treated like the rest. Much to my surprise, it pushed candles on most branches. Then the needles came. This fall it surprised me still with the new buds.
It's looking good, and I think it's going to make me eat crow. Its been said the strength of a pine is in its roots. I think it's also worth noting not to underestimate a trees will to live.
As the tree looks today. I wish I had a picture at collection but I don't.