Correction: the weird skinny trees are not diseased or starved. They are Alpine Firs, Abies lasiocarpa, evolved to keep their trunks arrow-straight and their branches short and stiff so that they never catch enough snow to be broken. They move very oddly - when the wind blows, the branches don't bend. The entire tree rocks back and forth, in a way that somehow reminds me of rattling bones.
We're also seeing a lot of paper birches, which are pale white, smooth of bark and entirely without leaves at this time of year. Bonedance forests, ice and snow and alpine firs and pale white birch.
I'm identifying trees using an ancient dog-eared copy of A natural history of Western Trees, written by one Donald Culross Peattie in 1950. Does anyone write natural histories anymore? The language is, er, well... let me show you. This is what he has to say about birches and alpine firs:
Paper birch delights in the company of somber and militarily erect conifers, as if to set off its dryad-like charms of exfoliating soft bark, of daintily pendulous branchlets, of light green and vivacious foliage. It loves to grow around cold clear lakes where its smooth limbs will be reflected in the water like a bather's.
We are easily entertained, Perhaps it's the long hours driving.