Regular readers know that there is no bigger advocate for getting out into the new Royal Gorge open spaces than this author. I have often had people ask me if it safe to go out in the forest. The person asking the question is usually concerned about bears. In the past I have always told people that they don’t have to worry about the bears and the forest is entirely safe. After today I may have to modify that advice.
This morning I suggested to my wife Linda that we do a short mountain bike ride out to Lyle’s lookout. It is one of our favorite spots on the summit and the ride out there is a nice relatively flat trail. It was a beautiful September day with the first signs of autumn showing in the leaves and warmth of summer was starting to wane. The ride out to Lyle’s was beautiful and the view was the best we had seen in the last smoky month due to all the wildfires.
We started the ride back and had come down the hill from Lyles and were just starting up Killy’s Cruise towards home. I was riding about 30 yards in front of Linda. Off to the left of the trail I heard a sharp crack and I looked in that direction expecting to see that I had spooked a deer or even a bear. I didn’t see anything but then came an even louder crack from further behind me. Then I heard a familiar wooshing sound start that I recognized as a falling tree. I frantically looked back over my right shoulder to see where Linda was and what I saw was chilling. A thirty foot high snag about 1 ft in diameter was slowly falling directly on the trail at Linda. It is one of those moments when you realize that something bad is going to happen and there is no force on earth that can stop it. In what seemed like sickening slow motion I saw the tree hit Linda’s bike and smash her to the ground.
I slammed on my brakes and jumped off my bike and ran back up the trail expecting to find the worst. Unbelievably, as I approached Linda she was waving her hand at me and yelling that she was all right, from under her crushed bike. The tree had fallen just about 12 inches behind her and had completely smashed her back wheel. There was no doubt that had she been a few seconds slower, I would be relating a much more tragic tale. As it turned out, Linda came out of this little ordeal with no more than a scrape on her arm, and oh yes, a lot more respect for trees. I think that the pictures below can tell the rest of this story better than words. My take home message: when someone tells you the odds against something happening are astronomical, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Life is fleeting, so appreciate what you’ve got.