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  1. #21
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    If I'm in my hammock and lightning hits one of the trees, do I get executed? I'm not aware of any data on the subject, so this is just me theorizing: To get me, the path has to be from one tree, through a few feet of Polyester tree straps, down a few feet of dyneema, through 10 ft of nylon fabric, other end of the suspension, then down 6ft or so of tree to ground. It's high resistance pathway compared to keeping along the tree it hit. Hopefully, any lightning bolt powerful enough to open that path would vaporize my suspension before the path was complete. OTOH, I'm immune to the ground flash anyone lying on the ground would be vulnerable to. I may be whistling in the dark, but I feel pretty safe from lightning.

    Getting hit by lightning isn't the whole threat picture. A tree hit by lightning is going to explode above me, and while my suspension may sacrifice itself to save me, it won't help if a tree falls on me. Lightning usually comes with rain and high winds, so I always look hard for "widowmakers" which, to my mind are the bigger threat in a storm.

  2. #22
    cmoulder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-Rat View Post
    Before anyone else pontificates about how they think they're going to protect themselves from lightning, think carefully about these photos.

    You say you think you're going to be safe hanging from a small tree or in the bottom of a valley because the lightning is going to hit the tall tree or ridge? Even NASA didn't have it figured out and the lightning went right past the high point of the lightning rod to hit the base of their billion dollar investment.

    You'd think that a tall steel structure (aka skyscraper) should be a much better conductor than damp air. Yet the lightning bolt bypassed the metal and continued through the air to the ground. You think a little bit of amsteel is going to make you safe? Hah!

    The last photo is a tree I hiked past a few weeks after it had been struck. The middle of the tree looked like a stick of dynamite went off in its center. That's the top half of the tree laying on the ground. 20 foot long chunks as large as my thigh were blown 30 feet away, with smaller shrapnel as far as 100 feet. The path of electricity isn't the only danger related to a lightning strike. I've seen three trees like this in the last few years. All were on flat mesa tops; none were anywhere near the cliff edge.

    I say, lightning is going to go wherever it wants and do whatever it wants, and that it's fairly unpredictable. Lightning is only one of many risks we take every time we step outdoors and honestly, it's probably one of the smaller risks. The only way to stay safe is to stay home. Stop worrying about it. Get out there and enjoy life.

    Attachment 189092 Attachment 189093 Attachment 189094
    Many (many!) years ago I had a summer job with the state of Mississippi, on a crew installing concrete picnic tables at the oxymoronically-named Dry Creek Water Park, not far from Hattiesburg. One afternoon a strong storm was brewing, with the sky turning quite literally black as night, so our supervisor, a wizened gentleman named James Rawls, hustled us into the bed of the truck and drove us quickly to some sort of administrative building nearby.

    Just as I was hopping out of the truck, I happened to be looking directly at a tall pine tree about 75 feet away at the very moment a bolt of lightning struck it with a most awesome effect. And I learned something. What happens is that the liquid inside the tree is instantaneously super heated and the steam causes the tree to explode exactly the same as a popcorn kernel. Bark and other pieces of the tree scattered in all directions, and left the remaining stump with jagged splinters twisting in every direction.

    And yes, after arcing several thousand feet through the atmosphere I don't think a few feet of webbing or cordage is going to influence its path.
    Five Basic Principles of Going Lighter (not me... the great Cam Honan of OZ) Instagram (me!)

    “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.” ~ Gen. George S Patton

  3. #23

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    FWIW, I know someone who was struck by lightening and did not die. She did get CPR so she might have but it was not like she was liquified.

    She does have really curly hair though I doubt it is related.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post

    And yes, after arcing several thousand feet through the atmosphere I don't think a few feet of webbing or cordage is going to influence its path.
    You mean I shouldn't bother putting a skeleton key at the end of my driplines? Dang, I thought for sure they worked, because I've not been hit yet.

    They're also good at repelling tigers. Multi-use item.


  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by cspan37421 View Post
    You mean I shouldn't bother putting a skeleton key at the end of my driplines? Dang, I thought for sure they worked, because I've not been hit yet.

    They're also good at repelling tigers..

    And recharging your electronic things!

  6. #26
    Senior Member Slackdaddy's Avatar
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    These threads come up every year or two.
    And in the end,, there is nothing you can do but enjoy the light show and hope for the best.

  7. #27
    cmoulder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cspan37421 View Post
    You mean I shouldn't bother putting a skeleton key at the end of my driplines? Dang, I thought for sure they worked, because I've not been hit yet.

    They're also good at repelling tigers. Multi-use item.

    Well the skeleton key did work for Mr. Franklin, allegedly. No word from his assistant.
    Five Basic Principles of Going Lighter (not me... the great Cam Honan of OZ) Instagram (me!)

    “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.” ~ Gen. George S Patton

  8. #28
    It's definitely not the ideal place to be but the chances of me waking up and moving in the middle of the night for fear of lightning is... zero.

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