ZAKFacts – Tree Edition

Today nothing happened. We woke up, ate breakfast, got in the car and drove. There was a stop for lunch in Wells, NV. There was a Target run and pizza for dinner. There was writing and repacking. Nothing happened.

So, instead of writing about today I wanted to share a bit about what we’ve learned on this trip. Geology has always been amazing to me. In particular it’s fascinating to learn about how pieces of the geologic puzzle have been put together to form a complete history of the world. I’ve also been fascinated at how the specific history of local places can be told by examining the rocks that appear there.

There was one phenomenon that I wasn’t aware of until taking this trip though: the ability of trees to fall, but intentionally miss the hiking trail. In retrospect, we began noticing this nearly immediately even at our first hike in the Bear Lake area of Rocky Mountain. It wasn’t until the past week or so that we learned the secret to how it works.

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An example of a tree that has split mid-fall to avoid the hiking path.

Although this behavior isn’t exactly natural, it is no less fascinating. We discovered that park rangers begin training these trees from a very young age. Although we didn’t gain any insight into what, exactly, the training entails. One can assume that a strong human-tree bond is essential.

While hiking through any forested area it is easy to observe many fallen trees in every direction. I know that I was always a bit on edge that one may fall my direction. As they say “trees fall all the time, but only once each”. I did find it comforting to know that as long as I stayed on the trail I was very unlikely to be hit. Still, imagine the surprise it would be to see a tree falling toward you only to have it split in half mid-fall and land harmlessly on either side of you!





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