Recently Aly I got the urge to go exploring. We chose the Blow Down, an area of the peninsula that we pass through quite often, but have not probed extensively before.About 30 years ago, a windstorm knocked down a swath of trees like dominoes, creating a slash through the forest from the water’s edge up into the peninsula. Apparently, someone cut a tree partway, then left it. The man who built the homestead told us he’d found the tree that started it all when it eventually fell. The resulting tangle of fallen trees, and the saplings that have grown in around them created a strange mix of dense thicket and open glades.
The north end of the Blow Down crosses the tip of our pie-wedge property. Where the trail crosses through it briefly, it’s lined by large logs, many of which are cut to form the trail. It’s one of the few parts of the trail open to the sky, so it piles deep with snow in the winter that lingers late in the spring.
Inside the Blow Down, we forced our way through small hemlock saplings and false azalea bushes. As expected, we found devil’s club, but it has only now begun to bud. The naked canes, while fully spined, are easy to get around right now.
The Blow Down reminds me a lot of typical Southeast Alaska forest: thick undergrowth crisscrossed by windfall trees. Tree roots spread wide and shallow in the thin topsoil. A fallen tree upends a huge disk of root, earth, and rock that props the lower end of the trunk off the ground, often to a height of 10 feet or more. The rest of the peninsula is a bit of an anomaly, with its open forest floor and relatively spaced trees.
The tangle didn’t surprise us, but the open spaces did. We know that moose spend a lot of time in there, and now we know why: lots of comfortable, sunny patches of soft duff and moss protected by thick brush.
Many fallen trees continued living, as their branches became upright trees in their own right, growing on the fallen log. Many of the new trunks are as thick, or thicker than the original tree.
We spent a couple of hours kicking around in there. It was a brief adventure, but I love exploring with my best buddy.