In my opinion, no other trees in Southeast Alaska are as suffused with sheer character as shore pines (Pinus contorta contorta). Over hundreds of years, they grow into an incredible variety of shapes, pressed and bent and corkscrewed by snow and wind and time.

Then, after they live out their multi-century lives and begin to decompose, their unique characters emerge even more strongly. Most have twisted trunks (according to a small study a friend and I did last winter, almost all trunks twist to the right). Some, like this one, twist in incredibly tight spirals, while others are more relaxed. Over time, they begin to look less like tree trunks and more like frayed and rotting ropes, their fibers gone soft and silver.