Thunderstorms blow in and out quickly around here. Yesterday morning dawned hot and humid and even at 6 am you could feel a thunder storm brewing. The sticky humidity blurred the far side of Round Lake as thunderheads grew in the north-west. Around 3 the wind started to pick up and distant rumbling heralded the start of the rain. The wind grew fierce forcing curtains of rain across the lake so dense the far shore was obscured. Lightening and thunder crashed over head as Denali cowered in the corner.
Within an hour the storm had blown over. The air was cool again and smelled fresh with the rain. It was time to play the “what’s missing” game. The joy and curse of living in a forest is the trees. Trees provide shade, sing in the wind, and house the birds. Trees also tend to come down at inopportune times and usually in the wrong place. Walking around looking at the canopy after a storm, it can be difficult to tell if something is missing. Yes, you look out the same window every day, but will you really notice when a tree is suddenly not there when it is surround by a forest?
The first clue was a snapped off poplar trunk. The freshly splintered wood was white and stood out against the wet dark green leaves. A dead tree that had been standing for a few years had lost the top 20 feet. A quick walk about discovered the top had fallen cleanly in the brush and would not need any clean up. Perfect!
Walking back, a large spruce top was laying across a path. The top had popped off in the high winds and fallen, missing two roofs. A small 10 foot chunk, no problem. Toss it in the back of the pickup and done.
The next problem was a tree across one of the driveways. Slightly more substantial but a quick chainsaw job and a full pickup load of wood and the road is clear again.
The more serious report comes from down the road near the Cross Bay parking lot. A large white pine had been struck by lightning. The tree still stands, but a long spiraling crack has formed all the way down the trunk. Chunks of bark have been blown off and charred. Although not a problem right now, it is a tree to be monitored. Lightening strikes can start trees and duff smoldering. The heavy rainfall will prevent flare ups initially, but a few days later when the forest starts to dry again, small embers can ignite new fires.
We had some guests out in the storm paddling. The rain was so heavy at one point they could not see the shore of Brant Lake! When storms like that blow in, it is best to get off the water and hunker down in the safest place you can find. It is awe inspiring part of wilderness travel to watch storms roll across the lake as long as take precautions to keep yourself safe!