While Dead Men Tell No Tales, Dead Trees Do… The Wednesday Photo Essay

Dead men tell no tales, or so they say. But dead trees talk back to you. At least it seems that way to me. I was backpacking into the Marble Mountains when I came upon this face on a burned tree. Was it saying, “Go back!”? Or maybe it was standing in for Smokey the Bear.

I’ve been hard at work on my next book: It’s 4 AM and a Bear Is Standing on Top of Me. In it I tell stories from 50 years of wilderness adventures ending with my 750 mile backpack trip down the Pacific Crest Trail to celebrate my 75th birthday. I’ve reached the point now where I am about to embark on the last section, my hike down the PCT. In preparation I’ve been going through my photos of the trip for inspiration as well as to jog my memory.

As I reviewed photos, I was struck by the idea that they would make appropriate content for my Wednesday Photo Essays. Rather than follow my days, which I more or less did in the blogs I wrote about the adventure, I’ve decided it would be fun to do a categorical approach and look at flowers, trees (mainly dead trees that have unique personalities), rock formations including mountains, and streams and lakes. There may be other categories as well. Today, I am going to include trees and brush I found particularly interesting. (I have a lot more but will alternate with flowers, etc. to keep things interesting.)

There is something almost heroic about this dead tree my nephew Jay Dallen and I found in the Trinity Alps. We both took numerous photos. I could imagine Michelangelo capturing this tree in marble.
I captured this photo by using rocks as a frame. The rocks shared a similar tortured look.
The tree encouraged close-ups and photos from several different angles. Jay and I must have been there for 30 minutes.
Dead manzanita lends itself to dramatic photos. The rock that the manzanita had grown over creates a close to perfect backdrop.
As you know, I have an active imagination when it comes to seeing faces in rocks and wood.
This was one of the most interesting I have ever seen. I looked through a knot hole and this peered back at me.
Just ducky.
I’ve always liked this statement by Joseph Campbell. If you find yourself falling off a cliff, “Dive!” Why not.
Are you a fan of “Lord of the Rings”? This sculpture that also led my nephew Jay and I to take numerous photos struck me as an Ent in search of Ent wives. Or maybe he was tearing out rocks to bring throw down at Sauron.
A closer look at the sculpture in its dramatic setting.
A black and white of the top of the ‘Ent’ sculpture.
Of course most of the trees along the PCT are happily living. I always like crown shots like this.
High altitudes with cold temperatures and high winds do their own unique job of sculpting trees. My father loved to paint trees like this.
This manzanita bush had plenty of beauty on its own but it didn’t hurt to have distant mountains including Mt. Shasta as a backdrop.
One should never discount the possibility of using a convenient tree as a chair! Peggy said it was quite comfortable.
Moss often adds a bit of color to dead trees.
Moss helped create this peep hole.
And decorated this dead stump.
Dance with me , honey!
Show me what you’ve got!
A tree eats a trail sign.
Nothing tells a story like old trail blazes left behind by explorers and pioneers to mark their trails. It’s a good place to end this post. If you have ever heard the expression, “Where in the blazes are we?,” this is where it came from.

FRIDAY’S POST: I am going to do a wrap on the petroglyphs from the Three Rivers National Petroglyph Recreation Area. (I still have two more petroglyph posts covering other areas we visited on our fall Southwestern tour.)

29 thoughts on “While Dead Men Tell No Tales, Dead Trees Do… The Wednesday Photo Essay

  1. The first face, to me, seems to say – “Look what you did to me!!” The second looks like an arthritic hand, IMO. I do love that tree you said your father liked to paint. A bonsai gardener would have trouble trying to duplicate that!!

    • Agree on the face, G— both a sadness and a warning. The second ‘sculpture’ is wide open for interpretation. But your description of arthritic set the joints in my typing fingers to aching. 🙂 I had the same thoughts on the tree. Thanks. –Curt

  2. I agree, trees can tell amazing stories! These photos are awesome, the burned ones reminded me of a trail I did in Sunset Crater. It’s a pretty cool place, I recommend it if you haven’t already been!

  3. Where in the blazes – I can’t believe I never put that together. Of course! I love the tree eating the sign and of course the search for Ent wives. That manzanita over the stone is gorgeous. Your imagination always delights. 🙂

    • My imagination is always at work. Thankfully. 🙂 And wasn’t that manzanita beautiful. It is such a gorgeous plant, always good for a photo or two. As for ‘where in the blazes,’ it took me a while as well. –Curt

  4. I love the movement in some of these trees. So sculptural, some of them look like dancers, especially the first one. Like a Degas or a Modigliani. Lovely.

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