Hiker was on trail when killed by tree | VailDaily.com

Hiker was on trail when killed by tree

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colorado ” Two 68-year-old hikers were simply walking along a trail when a long-dead Douglas fir snapped during gusty winds and fell, killing one of them, park officials said Wednesday.

“Five seconds one way or the other and it would have been an interesting story and an enjoyable hike,” park spokesman Larry Frederick said.

Frederick said rescuers believe they found the tree, which was about 30 feet from the trail. It had snapped about 15 feet from the ground as winds of up to 50 mph swept through the Wild Basin area.

“I imagine it was somewhat noisy and the tree snapped off as they were walking out,” Frederick said.

The men’s names have not been released.

The survivor was briefly stunned by the falling tree but managed to hike out two miles to the Wild Basin Lodge and Event Center to report the death of his hiking partner.

Park officials believe the tree may have been killed by a spruce budworm infestation that swept the area in 1980. Douglas firs are also prone to spruce budworm infestation, which defoliates trees.

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