I spend a lot of time wondering about things I find at Roundrock, which seems like a good use for the land. Sometimes I am tantalized by having some facts before me, and I create possible fictions to fill in the spaces between the facts. Take this old snag for example:
This is a relic from the pre-ranching days. It stands on the edge of the Mighty Pole Forest, up the slope not too far from the south end of the dam. Likely it was one of the dozens of trees killed by the long-ago, death-from-above application of herbicides from helicopters. The tree died where it stood, and remained standing. In the ensuing years, it lost its upper branches as they rotted and fell off. Then, clearly, a ground fire passed through. Yet when the fire reached this snag, it must have flared much higher. Note the scorched patches up the side of the snag where the flames reached. Why is it burned there, yet the surrounding wood appears untouched? Maybe the fallen limbs below the tree provided fuel for the fire. Maybe enuf rotting bark still clung to the tree to feed the flames. Maybe some vine covered the old snag and directed the flames. Perhaps the fire roared up the hollow trunk and found an outlet there. Or maybe there is some other explanation that was consumed by the flames.
This snag stands about 15 feet tall. This shot is looking to the west. You can see that the base is largely gone, but for some reason, the snag has remained standing despite the wind and weather that have taken down other large, dead trees at Roundrock. It could be that the carbonized places where the fire kissed the wood are now harder than they would have been had they not been burned. So the base might actually be stronger though it is slighter.
The critters at Roundrock can be selective about their den trees since we have so many old snags. (I’ve estimated we have about five per acre.) No critters have made a home in this snag, and perhaps some day I will visit it to find it has finally fallen to the forest floor where it can be a different kind of fuel as it returns to the soil.
I love all of this kind of speculation. It’s probably much more interesting than whatever the true tale would be.