Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tree Bridge

This small tributary once flowed over the top of these tree roots. Now it flows beneath. Trees don’t begin life floating in the air, so at one time the stream bed had to be quite a bit higher. This scene has changed very little since I bought the property. The stream has eroded down to the layers of shale and erosion of the shale is a much slower process.

At one time these roots probably stretched along the stream bed. The stream must have been stable for quite a while for the roots to reach this size. Something happened to cause the stream to go through a period of rapid change. It most likely had something to do with the way the land was being used at the time, but I could have been that the tree finally reached a size large enough to change the pattern of water flow.

The roots look like they could become animated and walk the tree right up the bank. They seem to be well anchored in each bank. The tree doesn’t seem in any danger of falling. Water passing over that tangle of roots would have had a varied pattern of drops and swirls. One tiny change could have set in motion a series of events that resulted in drastic changes in the stream bed.

The positioning of the tree certainly makes an odd sight. At some point in the past, water came around the left side of the tree and created a small channel. That channel has since stabilized and is no longer eroding. Water following that channel could have been the catalyst that started the stream channel to erode.

The tree, a Box Elder, is the largest in the area. The trunk has a bit of a bow, but it still appears to be healthy and vigorous. Box Elders are known for growing in wet situations, so it’s not surprising to find that it once grew in the stream. I expect it to be around for quite a while.


  1. Very interesting spot indeed. The tree's roots truly look like they're animated. And that moss on them must feel so warm.

  2. The moss does present a warm look, but when I took the pictures the temperature was a few degrees below freezing and a strong wind was coming up the valley. It's supposed to warm up during the next couple of weeks, so I'm hoping it won't be long until the actual temperature matches the image.