Total Miles: 81.4
I love trees. Always have. I can’t say exactly when the fascination began but my interest in them has certainly grown with age. Perhaps it felt wrong to know so little about the companions I’ve walked among on my many journeys over the years. I’m far from an expert, but what little I learn brings me closer to understanding the world that surrounds us all and my place in it.
Knowing your place in the world is one thing and knowing your place in the food chain is another. Emerging from a stand of lodge pole pines in the early morning hours, I looked down to notice for the first time a print in the mud that I’d been expecting. The sizable bear it belonged to was, sadly, nowhere to be found. Not two hours later, another dose of wildlife appeared right next to the trail as a small bird seemed resistant to flying away even as we stepped next to it. A closer look at the spot it had been revealed why.
By noon, the trail had crested a small saddle that separated two different drainages and the one we now looked down into was very different indeed. Fire is a fact of life in the wilderness, and burn areas are commonplace but this one was unusual, not because of its size or even the extent of its devastation, but because of its sound.
We scarcely notice, but even in the slightest of breezes the forest composes its own symphony of sound. From the gentle woosh of swirling winds twisting through the hemlocks and pines, to the creaks and moans of dead timber swaying against a neighboring trunk, to the soft sizzle of fluttering aspen leaves. It’s all being conducted if we only happen to listen to it.
Skeletons of their former selves, this particular stand of burned trees felt altogether different. Like walking through a timber graveyard, the wind that was lessened from yesterday but still gusty and unpredictable created a macabre kind of symphony. Eerie wind-chime like sounds, almost human-like voices, and even higher pitched shrieks that echoed of their tortured past. What history and tragedy they must have witnessed.