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Get a bargain on a holiday tree with a Forest Service permit

Find ten-dollar trees and free adventure in a Washington forest. #k5evening

NORTH BEND, Wash. — Sounds easy enough. Pay $10 for a permit either online or at a ranger station and cut your own Christmas tree in the wild. 

A couple of members of Team Evening discovered that there's far more to getting a DIY tree in the forest than having the proper paper work. 

The US Forest Service sells holiday tree cutting permits for $5 to $10 depending on where you’re cutting your tree. Jim Dever picked up two permits, one for him, one for Jose, to hunt for trees in the National Forest land off I-90 west of Snoqualmie Pass.

"We like to think that this is a great opportunity for folks to come and not only explore the national forest, but to make an adventure out of getting their Christmas tree,” said Colton Whitworth, Forest Service Public Affairs Officer. Jim got his permits at the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Ranger Station in North Bend. You can also go to recreation.gov to purchase permits online.

Whitworth’s main piece of advice? Start your hunt early in the day. 

“I think a lot of folks come up and think it's gonna be a quick and easy process, it's not usually that,” he said. 

He also said to use a vehicle with high ground clearance and 4-wheel-drive. 

"You're going to encounter roads that are often covered in snow, it’s a little rugged."

Recent snowfall has made even lower elevation Forest Service roads tough going, so tire chains and a shovel for digging out of snow are essential safety gear. Also carry matches, a blanket, a flashlight, food, and drinks and have a full tank of gas. Tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back. And dress for the occasion.

“Bring extra warm clothes, you could get wet, you could get cold," Whitworth said. "Bring a beanie, gloves. You're also going to want to make sure you've got some water-proof pants, jacket and some boots."

A hand saw, a tarp for covering your tree, and tie downs are also required equipment for wild tree hunting. And bring some patience. This isn’t like going to a U-cut tree farm, as Jim and Jose learned. They had to park their 4-wheel drive rig when the snowy road got too steep and go on foot.

Jim tried calling to the trees by singing a carol. Didn’t work. But Jose’s pep talk did.

"It's all about the Christmas spirit, Jimmy. Remember. Christmas spirit. We're gonna find it." 

Right after that, they found their tree.

In the end, it took more than 2 hours of trudging through the snow, one snowball fight, and countless slips on the ice to find the trees. Two spindly Douglas firs. But at least the Evening crew came out of the woods with 10-dollar Forest Service trees and no major disasters to report. After all, it’s not about the size of your tree. It’s about having a tree hunting buddy to make sure you get out in one piece.

KING 5's Evening celebrates the Northwest. Contact us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email.

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