Sunday, March 20, 2011

Reflections #4: Deadfalls

Much of the Alps has been burnt by either the 2003 or the 2006 bushfires. This is a major cause of the problems with track overgrowth. Wherever the canopy has been cleared by fires, dense saplings spring up covering every available inch of ground. The other problem is dead trees. Many of these have blown down and block the track until Parks can get to them with a chainsaw. If they can get to them. But worse still are those still standing.

I had just refilled my pack from my drop on the Jamieson-Licola Road. I was walking along Middle Road below Mt Skene, a relatively level, narrow 4wd track. The fog had moved in but there was no perceptible wind. Not a zephyr. Out of the stillness I heard a loud 'crrrraaaaacccckkkk' then a loud 'crash-kaboom'. I turned and watched as the tree fell across the road not 20 metres behind me, where I had just passed.

I looked at all the foreboding ashen grey dead trees that lined the upper bank and overhung the road I was on. In the eerie fog they looked ominous and all looked ready to fall. Not 20 minutes later I was stopped by another crack. This time it was ear-piercing and resonated through the forest. There was a long pause as the 'craaaaaaccccck' echoed before a massive 'KAAABBBOOOOMMMM!' followed. All the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I couldn't tell how far away that was but I felt the ground shake with the impact.

That old riddle about 'if a tree falls in the forest and no-one hears it does it make a sound?' came to mind. Bloody oath it makes a sound!

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