Widow maker


How would you like your tree on top of your RV today, sir? With or without leaves?  And would you like any bruises with that?  Or how about a broken arm? The waiter at site 14 was having a hard time with his customer/camper and I can see why.

Seriously though, one of our jobs is to serve as Eyes & Ears for the CORPS and one never knows when it will be important simply to be there!  One of the things we are ever on the lookout for are “widowmakers”, “leaners”, and “hangers”;  tree limbs that that are snagged up in the canopy and are in danger of falling to the ground and hurting someone, or damaging property.

widowmaker
this is a good example of the kind of thing we were dealing with.

Saturday we had a good example of why campgrounds have hosts and volunteers.  We had a camper depart on Saturday morning as scheduled. Another was to take their place later in the day.  We did our usual ground level cleanup — little bits here and there.  We had just done a complete campground inspection a few days before, and the rangers had been through removing the hazards we noted;  hangers, leaners and widowmakers.  One limb we had not noticed — and it was only recently separated from the tree because it still had fully hydrated leaves — hung above that very site.  Actually — we had not seen it.  the arriving camper noticed it.  But what do you do late on a Saturday afternoon when you see a hazard in your campsite for the next 8 days?

The campground was full.  It’s late in the day.  We did what we are supposed to do:  talk with the ranger.  I gotta tell you, I would never have occupied that site if I had seen the widow maker.  And certainly if we had noticed it earlier we would have put the site out of service.  But here we have a camper with a 8 day reservation, no unreserved sites, and a hazard that is way too hight to reach.  To make it worse — the weather service had just issued a 6 hour strong storm warning.  This is when you appreciate the professionalism of the people you work with.

We had three rangers on site within about 20 minutes.  They cleared the area — it will be a few days before they can get a contractor out here to remove the limb (if it doesn’t fall in the next day or so) as well as to assess the damage to the parent tree.  That limb is 25’-30’ in the air and it’s not something you’re going to throw a rope over and simply pull down out of the canopy.

A church group had reserved an entire loop of the campground but they had a no-show — so I talked with the group leader and advised the ranger that we had another site for the camper to use.  Because of their kindness the camper’s vacation was saved and the rangers helped get them moved and sorted out.  In the end, the at-risk camper was accommodated, there were no injuries, everyone went away happy.

On another day, in another place the story could have been very different.  In the end, the storm warning proved to be nothing.  The storm missed us to the Northwest by 20 miles.  But everyone did what they were supposed to do and no one was the worse for the experience.

Once again I can go to sleep tonight thinking, “it was good to have been here.”

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll be here again tomorrow to chat.

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