Just when you think it’s safe to go into the forest…
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.
Glad to hear that Linda is OK. What an experience. There is an old saying that, “If it can happen, it will happen”–but no one knows where or when. We have seen many fallen trees on our hikes, but only saw one actually fall a few years ago just a dozen yards off the PCT going north.
Wow, Linda is a lucky lady! That back wheel looks nasty!! It reminds me of a backpacking trip that I did in Yellowstone years ago with Ann and DIck. We were hiking through an area with smallish trees, probably 6-12 inches in diameter, but they were falling over all around us. It wasn’t a windy day and luckily none hit us, but it was also one of those weird, fluky things, Probably 3 or 4 trees fell very near or over the trail during our hike through the area. Good that Linda is safe!
OMG!!!! What an experience! Lucky Lady! You should buy a Lotto Ticket it is your lucky time…So glad all is well and you get an new bike (or wheel)!
Linda, we are so glad you are safe!!!!
Somebody, something is watching over you, Linda. So relieved you came back safely!
I had a hard time to push “like” when I didn’t like what I saw! Glad you are ok.
I heard Linda tell her story at the Friday evening get-together on the beach, and could hardly believe her incredible story! Your photos certainly confirm her narrow escape. Thanks for sharing! And it’s our luck to have both of you, who contribute so much to the Serene Lakes community, hale and sound.
Glad to see that you are OK Linda. I wonder if the drought had affected the trees this way?