Nature Blows My Mind! Oregon's 'Old Man of the Lake'

Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 2.0

The Energizer Bunny of Tree Stumps!

Most of our Nature Blows My Mind! posts are pretty in your face with beauty or weirdness. But this one is a little bit more subtle... It was sent to me by David D. (thanks!) who said that one of his tree-loving buddies passed it along. It's about a venerable 30-foot hemlock tree stump that has been bobbing vertically around the water of beautiful Crater Lake in Oregon for at least 116 years, but possibly much more.

It doesn't look like much in this photo from 2005:

Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 2.0

Or this sketch from 1938:

Public domain/Public Domain

Or this ranger demonstrating the Old Man's buoyancy around 1930:

Public domain/Public Domain

But it has been bobbing around seemingly forever in Crater Lake, never washing ashore, always moving around, requiring boat pilots to communicate its position regularly for safety reasons. It isn't decomposing, or at least, very slowly, and it looks like quite a bit of marine flora has grown on it.

USGS/Public Domain

During one three-month period of observation in 1938, The Old Man traveled at least 62.1 miles (99.9 km). Not surprisingly, the days on which the greatest movements occurred were days of relatively high wind and waves.

In 1988, submarine explorations were conducted in the lake, and the scientists decided to tie The Old Man off the eastern side of Wizard Island to neutralize the navigational hazard until their research work was complete.

As of January 2012, tour boats regularly pass The Old Man on their journeys to view the sights around Crater Lake. The clarity of the lake's water allows one to see far down The Old Man's length. (source)

I don't know, it might just be an old tree stump, but I think the Old Man of the Lake has personality and is one cool piece of trivia.

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Tags: Nature Blows My Mind | Oregon

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