I always take more lenses than I can shoot, and training and acclimatizing for a 200 mile high-altitude bike ride takes its toll too, but I did return with a load of material to work on, the results of which will be showing up this week here on this site.
Update: seems I picked up a virus from an aid station at the Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge, so after the fever/chills subside, I'll get busy on new material.
Freak 180 mph downdraft topples centuries-old trees
On a documentary note, the most unusual sort of damage occurred near Tioga Pass (and also Devil’s Postpile to the south and perhaps other locations). Apparently tens of thousands of trees were downed in the Sierra in the Tioga Pass, Reds Meadow/Devils Postpile, and Mammoth Lakes Basin areas.
As if a giant hand slammed down and crushed them to the ground, centuries-old trees were uprooted instantly and lie prostrate on the ground, sometimes singly, and sometimes by the dozen. According to the ranger (I asked), this happened last November, with hurricane-force winds hitting 180 mph.
I observed many trees nearly 3 feet in diameter—ancient and beautiful—now havens for beetles and grubs for the next 50 years.
I am sure glad I was not in the park at the time!
The Monologue reports in more detail:
On November 30, 2011 local weather stations indicated that wind speeds did not drop below 120 miles per hour (mph) for three hours, and that gusts exceeding 180 mph battered the top of Mammoth Mountain. Usually high winds blow from the west in the Sierra, but this windstorm blew steadily from the north, uprooting trees that have adapted to withstand westerly winds, not northerly winds.
Can trees withstand such high winds, regardless of direction?