Many of the Trembling Aspen trees in this area have unusual twists in their normally straight trunks.
Like the orchids, it is a mystery as to why the trees in this area are crooked, though both foresters and Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in stories have a few ideas:
Snow loading: Dawson receives heavy snow loads each winter. Snow and ice could have bent young aspen stems and the tree continued to grow in that shape.
Krummholz (‘crooked wood’): When Dawson was booming, the surrounding forest was cleared for timber and fuel wood. A the trees grew back, this slope would have been exposed to fierce winds, stunting their growth and twisting the wood.
Genetics: Trembling Aspen trees can reproduce through ‘suckers’: a new tree grows off the roots of an existing tree. The resulting aspen trees in the area are clones, all connected through their roots. So, if one tree has a genetic anomaly that results in crooked growth, all the clones will be twisted too.
TSÄK GE JEK'S FEAST
As told by Joe and Percy Henry
Tsaek Ge Jek was a hunter who went out and killed a moose one day. After skinning the moose he was ready to share the meat.
"I wonder who can help me with this feast," but Tsaek Ge Jek did not have any friends with him. He decided to climb a tree and call his animal friends to the feast.
He chose a nearby tree with a forked branch and climbed up. "Twist with me," he told the tree, "so I can call my friends from all around the bush."
"No," said the tree. But Tsaek Ge Jek was bossy and impatient. He bothered the tree until it began to twist around.
As Tsaek Ge Jek twisted and turned he called out to all of the animals, "Come and feast with me, my friends."
Once the tree stopped twisting Tsaek Ge Jek realized that he was stuck.
He had to stay up in the tree while Whiskey Jack, Crow, Bear, Mouse, Wolverine ... everyone came and began to feast. "Save some for me," cried Tsaek Ge Jek, but the animals ate all of his meat.
When every last morsel was gone the tree let Tsaek Ge Jek go. And that's why we have twisted trees today.
Winter photos: YG - M. Pedersen