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1631If a tree falls in the woods..

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  • karens62@aol.com
    Jun 1, 2003
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      Ed and I had planned to hike Mt. Mitchell this weekend, spending the night near the top and coming home today.  Yesterday morning's thunderstorm, drenching rains and forecasted winds of 80 mph on top of the mountain changed those plans!  After a fun visit to Linville Caverns, we walked the mile up Table Rock from the parking lot, enjoying the sun which was finally peeking out from the clouds. The wind was pretty fierce and we were still a few thousand feet lower than our original destination. Sitting on the rocks on top of the mountain was well worth any discomfort the wind brought, but I was glad we had modified our plans.

      Since I was still craving a night in the hammock, we found a pulloff in the forest and hunted for a place to hang the hammocks for the night. After a short search, narrowing it down from a few options, we settled on three appropriate trees and set up the two hammocks side by side.  We're finally getting the two tarp technique figured out, if we can only remember what we did the last time! (you can see pics under Ed's Doubles in the photo section - the ones from yesterday aren't posted yet)

      After all this hard work, a short nap was in order but, alas, was not to be. As we settled down, we heard the cracking of a BIG tree nearby.  Since this definitely deserved a closer look, we got up and saw that, while we were in no danger, the tree still hadn't fallen all the way but was being held up by some smaller trees. As we watched, the wind gusts rocked the tree and then, finally, sent it crashing to the ground! WOW - that was loud!  That's when we realized this wasn't a dead tree, but a LIVE tree! Apparently beetles had eaten a weak spot in the trunk about 20 feet off the ground and weakened it enough that the gusts sent it toppling.  I had heard trees fall in the middle of the night, and we all know Ed's checkered history with falling trees, but it was quite a surprise to see one crash down in broad daylight with clear skies.  That was the excitement for the night, we thought.

      After dinner we settled back into the hammocks for the night. When I got up to readjust mine, Ed was nice enough to point out that the "double" tree I had my foot tied to was actually one live tree and one dead tree. hmmmm. Well, it'll be fine, really it will. After all, I'm tied to the live one, not the dead one.   He settled down to a deep sleep with no clue that I was lying awake feeling the hammock shudder each time the gusting wind knocked the dead tree against the live tree.  So, over the next hour and a half, I worked myself up into a state of extreme anxiety, all the while trying to convince myself that this tree had been dead for a very long time and hadn't fallen yet. Besides, what are the odds of two trees falling in that close a range in one day. Slim, right? But, what if this is a premonition and I am ignoring it? Would Ed at least survive to tell my family how I had been pierced by a falling tree? He's got an affinity for falling trees and hadn't been hit by one yet; perhaps I would be protected by proximity?  Luckily, before I self-destructed, he woke up and made the mistake of asking how I was.  Within 15 minutes, we were packed up and on the road home. What a guy!  We even stopped to check out the Brown Mountain Lights on the way home, but the ghosts apparently all had Saturday night off.  So much for spending the night in the hammocks, but I was glad I listened to my gut feelings. Now I can only hope that when we revisit that site, we'll find that tree has fallen and I was right!  And yes, next time, I not only will look up, but I'll really spend time making sure the tree isn't dead.

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