Vail Daily letter: Watch out for trees
Vail, CO, Colorado
I think fellow local hikers need to be cautioned about the growing trail hazard from gusty winds and trees falling.
Usually I start hikes early in morning, but recently I went up an East Vail trail after lunch. About half an hour up, one begins to pass through stands of dead lodgepole pines. On at least one trail, fallen trees look like the game “Pickup Sticks,” making continuation rather arduous.
I chose one with less deadfall, but grew gradually alarmed as I ascended and found the winds gaining in strength from increasingly warm air and altitude.
The trees squeaked, chattered, groaned and swayed as the heavier gusts hit them. The U.S. Forest Service had warned its volunteer trail monitors about this danger last spring. Shallow rooted lodgepoles usually topple within three to five years of dying, if not before.
Not wanting to share their fate , I turned around and headed home. I encourage local hikers to start early and turn back if windy conditions develop.
The good news is that trained Forest Service volunteers cut up large numbers of trail blockages last year, and this year they will have reinforcement from a Forest Service trail crew, according to our wilderness ranger.