Sitting beneath Mt St Helens is Spirit Lake. It was there before the blast but not exactly where it is now. The debris that rushed off the mountain and the side of the volcano collapsed pushed down to the lake and actually raised it up a couple of hundred feet. The water also rushed up the surrounding hills. These had been covered in trees which, as the blast expanded outwards, got snapped off at their bases. These stripped tree trunks got picked up by the water and washed back in to the lake as the water retreated. The result is that there are now thousands of tree trunks floating on the surface of the lake making a raft. This moves with the wind so its location on the lake surface changes all the time but it always covers a substantial portion of the lake.
The lake also covers the previous location of a lodge that used to serve visitors. The owner of the lodge died in the explosion and the raised level of the lake now puts it above the lodge’s original location. The owner had been advised to leave but he had lived there all his life and he wasn’t interested in going. He was one of the many people to die that day.
When starting up at rocky mountainsides, it is easy to spot trees that seem to be doing an amazing job of growing out of somewhere that looks like it shouldn’t be possible. Normally I am a lot further away that is practical to get a good look at how they do this. However, while hiking in the Cascades, we came across a spot right next to the trail where some trees were growing right out of the rocks next to us. It was so cool to see how they develop a root structure in solid rock from which they can grow and flourish. Here are a couple of shots to show how they have successfully embedded themselves in a rocky surface.
In the parts of Washington where there is heavy tree cover and plenty of rain, you can get some serious growth of moss on the branches of the trees. Go to the rainforest out on the Olympic peninsula and there are plenty of examples of this but even in the hills around Snoqualmie, you can see such trees. The softer light during the winter helps show up the moss well with it almost appearing to glow in the shaded areas.
I saw one tree across the river from us and in direct light and it really stood out from the surrounding trees so I figured a shot had to be taken. On our side of the river there was plenty of moss too so here you have a single tree and then some close ups of other trees to show just how the moss dominates the trees. Of course, it isn’t very dense so doesn’t overwhelm the tree but it really makes the structure seem much beefier!
This one is quick. A tree has broken and the trunk – not a very thick one – had not only broken but twisted as it fell. I was fascinated by the shape it took and the way in which the fibers of the wood had distorted as it fell over. It showed the inner structure of the tree in a vulnerable way which is obscured when the tree is intact.
Seeing logs on the shore is not unusual. Plenty of logs get washed ashore. However, when taking a walk along the beach at Shoreline over the holidays, there was a tree trunk that had become lodged on the water’s edge. It had become wedged in amongst some piles in the water with the roots of the log still out in the water. Usually the logs appear to have been cut but this was a tree that had got washed out into the sound. Everyone was taking a look at it or climbing out on to it. It was pretty big and finding a way to convey the size was something I pondered at length.
Walking along Long Beach in Tofino early in the morning, it was still pretty cold. The lack of wind meant it was perfectly comfortable in the sun but the air temps were low. The result was lots of frost on the tree stumps that were scattered along the beach. The texture of the cross section of the wood was already accentuated by weathering but the addition of the frost provided a bit more emphasis to the surface.
I am regularly fascinated by the way in which a fallen tree will be the source of food for new plants. The decaying wood releases nutrients and provides a great base for the next generation. Of course, as it decays further, the base may gradually disappear from under them. In the interim, though, any number of plants will sprout and develop. I came across one such log in Meerkerk Gardens. It seemed to be home to any number of new plants (and that ignores the insect species that were, no doubt, hard at work on its surface).
Wood on the shoreline is usually pretty interesting from a texture perspective. Spending a bunch of time in the water getting beaten by waves and any other debris in the water tends to smooth out the surfaces and also emphasize the flaws in the structure of the wood. I saw a bunch of wood on the beach at Shoreline when walking along the shore there and one in particular caught my eye.
On my route to work each day, I pass by a great looking tree. I first saw it in the spring when there was blossom to make it look even better. In fact, what I thought was one tree is actually two. There is a smaller tree in front of the trunk that makes it look like a very thick trunk whereas it is really a normal size. However, from the right angle and early in the morning when the sun is on it, the thing looks beautiful. Sadly, the fire hydrant spoils things a touch!
I have seen full sized trees being trained or supported with structures put in place to keep their growth where intended. I had never thought about it being applied to bonsai though. However, while trimming is a key part of shaping a bonsai, there are more direct approaches like wiring along branches to keep them going as intended. A close look at some of the exhibits at the Pacific Bonsai Museum showed how this was done. The clever bit was that these additions were not so conspicuous and didn’t ruin the appearance of the tree.