In the Woods

March 24, 2013

Broken, downed tree at Cunningham Falls.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Even though the calendar says it is Spring, it has been cold and wet over the past few weeks and tonight’s forecast is for a rain/snow mix that could make the morning commute interesting.  On days like what the morrow will most likely be, getting up and out early before folks start careening down the highway is a real benefit.

Broken, downed tree at Cunningham Falls.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

But I digress-it would seem that it would be hard to do that at the beginning of a post, but I seem to have managed it.  Anyway, given that today was in the high 30s and overcast, but not wet in any way, going to the mountains and walking in the woods seemed like a very good idea.  On the way to the Catoctin Mountains, I realized that it had been quite a while since I had been there and one way to measure that is by the weather we have had recently:  I have not been to the mountains in one hurricane (Irene), one superstorm (Sandy), and one derecho (sorry but the Weather Channel had not yet started naming everything).  I have written a number of posts about these storms and their effect on the built environ, as I have been doing most of my photographic work in the city for the past year or so.  As a result of that, I had (almost) completely lost touch with the local mountain range to the north and west.  It was a pleasure to again walk along the trails and look up to see trees and large rocks instead of glass, steel, and concrete.

Broken trees and rocks at Cunningham Falls.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The downside was exactly that-the number of horizontal or diagonal trees was impressive as those three storms had really left their mark.  And that mark will most likely be visible for quite some time, long after the snow and chill in the air have been replaced.

The wood stove in the ranger station did a very nice job of removing said chill and created an inviting atmosphere that was a bit hard to leave.  Nonetheless,   I did leave wondering just how much heat could be generated if it were possible to harvest that vast amount of board-feet of downed wood.  Another climate-related angle occurred to me as well: once a tree is down, it is no longer able to participate in the CO2-to-oxygen cycle, nor is it able to provide cooling shade.  While absolutely not as damaging as a clear-cut, these storms did take their toll.  Despite the snow still on the ground, and that yet to come tonight, we really are just around the corner from another summer.  It would be nice to have those trees back to offset that heat that is sure to come.

Take good care.

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