Saturday, April 7, 2012

... Lovelier Than a Tree

With Easter looming and so many things to do this weekend, we opted for a short hike partway up the Windy Gap Trail and back down the fire road to the still-closed Deer Flats campground around Crystal Lake.

One of the things that caught our attention was the many ways that trees die and rot in the forest. Part of the natural order of things, as they live, die and then carry on their part of nature by disintegrating. In the top photo, you can see how the outer portion of a tree can slowly disappear until its core is exposed and it too begins to break down. Certainly the breakdown is accelerated by termites and other insects, until the pulp covers the ground and feeds the soil below.

In the second photo, a massive tree lies in pieces, neatly cut in half to move it out of the way. The number of holes indicate how useful it was in life to so many woodpeckers, who hammer away to attract a mate, feed on insects, or defend their territory.

What killed these trees? Fire, lightening, insects, disease, drought, road-building? Hard to say. But there is something comforting in the knowledge that they are still an important part of the forest.

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