Forest Redwoods

Mystery Coast Redwood #13

Don't trigger a bark avalanche !

Continued from: Coast Redwoods Main Page

Copyright 2017 by Mario Vaden

The redwood below is one I noticed around 2012 but never photographed until 2017 when I had enough enthusiam to cross so many salmonberry thorns on a day my timer was in the bag. It's a huge coast redwood approximately 20 ft. diameter. The trunk is loaded with organisms will all sorts of crazy greens. It reminds me of Soylent Green from 1973.

There is a lesson attached to this redwood and a few others like it. When you see trunks with scads of broken bark and wood around the base and deadwood overhead, don't mess around with the trunk. Don't put pressure on it, don't pull at it, don't dislodge or step on chunks against the base. You can trigger a small avalanche that can drop hundreds or thousands of pounds in a matter of seconds. This one is alive, but its possible for dead trunks to shed an entire wrap of bark in a single moment.

The day after this photo, I photographed another redwood on dark foggy hillside, facing south. I turned to the north and walked a few paces to compose some vine maples. A moment later a top broke like an explosion, but I didn't yet realize what happened. Limbs on coast redwoods are the size of mature trees in many of the country's other states. The breaking branch sounded like a falling trunk and for a moment it was uncertain whether to run for cover or stay in place. A few seconds later large limbs and wood crashed down through the canopy about 100 feet away. There was no warning. And this kind of event is possible near most any trail. I don't recall hearing a breeze or wind gust either. A weakness finally snapped and gave-way.

If redwoods that look rock solid can break without any warning, it's certain that trunks surrounded with debris are conveying a warning. A trunk like this is not worth measuring to a millimeter's accuracy. And the redwood below will not hesitate to hurl a lethal puke on anyone.


Huge Coast Redwood north of Damnation Creek trail turnout