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  1. #1
    Hang Williams's Avatar
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    Deadfall and tree selection

    I wanted to ask the forum when is "too much" deadfall in an area for you to hang from otherwise healthy looking trees? Do you ever see an area that just looks like SOMETHING is wrong and think looking for widowmakers in your immediate vicinity isn't enough?

    I went on a backpacking trip this weekend in the Sawtooths. We went thru a burn area on the way in and after that, never really found our way out of areas with a large amount of deadfall that, to me, looked to be fire damage. Research after the fact shows that the burn area was small and we had exited it; however, the deadfall was shockingly abundant to the point that I ended up erring on the side of caution with being unfamiliar with how to judge lodgepole pine health and going to ground in a clearing so as to not pull over a tree on myself.

    I didn't think to take any pictures of the truly heavy deadfall near the lake we were trying to camp next to, but this picture was from one of the better areas



    This picture from some post trip reading is more indicative of the area I deemed too much deadfall.

  2. #2
    Phantom Grappler's Avatar
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    Phantom skeeerd. You did good to trust your gut!

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    Crazytown3's Avatar
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    I always just trust my gut. If my initial feeling isn't good, I try to remember not to talk my self into it anyway.

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    Rolloff's Avatar
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    I stopped hiking until dark before setting up camp, in most cases. Woke up too many mornings in places I wouldn't set up in the daylight.

    Always leave the area telling myself that the event that took all those trees down only took the weak ones
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    sideshowraheem's Avatar
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    Hard to tell from the pictures but I’d echo, trust your gut.

    Roll off brings up an excellent point about setting up in the dark too! I’ve made the mistake of hanging from a dead tree once in the dark that swayed just a bit to much for me, thankfully it held through the night though.

  6. #6
    Hang Williams's Avatar
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    That is an excellent point that factored into this situation. Finished up work, drove to the trailhead, hiking was slower than expected and when the options at the destination didn't work out, it was pretty late in the day.

    In this instance, I actually did find trees in a small stand with minimal deadfall and get one of my better hangs setup for about 20 minutes before realizing I was going to second guess myself awake all night and I had an extra pad for my dog that I could use anyways and just did the ground thing.

  7. #7
    Hang Williams's Avatar
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    Aside from my instance this past weekend, does anyone have good rules of thumb for when deadfall becomes too prevalent?

    I'm thinking there's the gut feel of "you'll know it when you see it." Another thought that's been running in my head today was "if you pick a random 20x20 area and you're more likely to be hit by a tree in that area than not, it's a no go." It's a forest, there will always be down trees near your campsite, so that judgement call on probability is tough to create a hard and fast metric that engineers like myself desire.

  8. #8
    Member Bayou Russ's Avatar
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    I try to be as careful as I can but sometimes they’re sneaky little buggers…




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  9. #9
    cmoulder's Avatar
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    To be honest, some of the areas where I camp have standing widowmakers but I take into account the direction they're leaning and prevailing wind direction and hope* that if they do decide to fall that the odds will take care of me.

    One way to figure out if you're out of range of a particular tree is to use a compass with a slope angle function and measure whether the top of the tree is steeper or shallower than 45°. Shallower than 45° and you're safe. Failing that, you can angle your arm up and estimate the 45° angle. But you have to be careful with this because somebody might think you're giving a Hitler salute. Which is not illegal but might be problematic.

    (*Yes, hope is not a strategy. )
    Five Basic Principles of Going Lighter (not me... the great Cam Honan of OZ) Instagram (me!)

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  10. #10
    Carver's Avatar
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    Lodgepole pine does not compete well with other tree species so that it is most often found in burned over areas or clear cuts. The problem then is that the result is a dog hair stand with way too many trees of the same age competing against one another. A stagnant stand of lodgepole can be dangerous for when one falls, the rest are of the same age and condition and are often ready to follow. It often takes fifty or so years for a lodgepole to reach fence pole size. Small, tall and dangerous.

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