All posts by MarkGWP

Redwoods Hiking Fall 2016 and a Little Bit More

Redwoods Hiking Fall 2016 and a Little Bit More

1      Klamath Redwoods

The remnant forest on Flint Ridge above the mouth of the Klamath River is quite spectacular.  The trail starts out near an old logging pond.  There is an interesting hike around the pond, some of it on an old narrow gauge railroad bed.  Remnant bumper piers built to control the log runs are visible.  There are colorful wood ducks paddling on the water.

The climb up the east slope of Flint Ridge is nice, the switchbacks are well designed and maintained and the trail bridges are in good shape.  The old growth redwoods start on the switchbacks not too far above the pond, with a number of redwoods in the 16 foot diameter / 325 feet height class.  The appearance of the old growth is very sudden and scenic.  That’s Mario and Ed, who joined me on this hike, in the pic.   Mario has a much, much better picture of the three of us at this location on his web site.

Flint Ridge at start of old growth
Flint Ridge at start of old growth

The good size redwoods run from this point all the way up the ridge.

Scenic old growth about half way up Fint Ridge
Scenic old growth about half way up Flint Ridge

 

On the upper half of the ridge Douglas fir are mixed in with the redwoods.  These fir trees are very tall, there is one right by a bridge on the trail that is about 300 feet in height.

Flint Ridge very tall Douglas fir
Flint Ridge very tall Douglas fir

Near the top of the ridge the nearby ocean starts to have an influence.   A few Sitka spruce start to appear.  There is a very interesting distinctive red cedar right by the trail.

Red cedar high on Flint Ridge
Red cedar high on Flint Ridge

This trail reminds me of the new James Irvine trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods, but Flint Ridge is less crowded and has more interesting and large trees right by the trail.

 

2      Prairie Creek Redwoods

 

Prairie Creek Redwoods provides a high level of easy access to large redwoods.  Drury Parkway and Cal Barrel Road (open in summer) have giant redwoods right by the road, then there is a web of trails that wind through many of the groves with the biggest redwood trees. It is a busy park (even on a late October weekend) and you will meet people from all over the United States and the world on the trails.

I did some hiking on both the old and new James Irvine trails.  It was interesting to see some of the big trees in the valley (old trail, no longer maintained) and then see the crowns of the same trees from the hillside (new trail).

James Irvine Giant redwood
James Irvine Giant redwood

 

I also spent some time on the trails near and along Prairie Creek.  There are many notable redwoods that grow along Prairie Creek.  Some of the big ones right by the road have a lot of wear and tear from foot traffic.  However some trees are protected by their location, being neither adjacent to a road or a trail.

Distant view of Adventure Redwood crown
Distant view of Adventure Redwood crown

 

3      Humboldt Redwoods

 

Later on the weekend I drove down to Humboldt Redwoods to do some exploration and hiking.  I was very keen to pick out the Millennium Redwood, which is a 370 foot redwood located in a small but beautiful grove in Humboldt Redwoods.  I had found the grove last summer, then received an obscure clue to help me locate the specific redwood.   As it turns out I had been to the very tree in June.

Millenium Grove crowns
Millennium Grove crowns

 

I also spent some time in the Harper Flat area.  Harper Flat is an even aged forest on the south side of Bull Creek a little east of the Giant Tree area.  There are many very tall redwoods, with more than a few of them having fused trunks or immediately adjacent trees.  Maybe abound 1,300 years ago this area was leveled by a flood or Cascadia earthquake and clonal sprouts from common stumps grew and fused over time.

The forest in Harper Flat is very dense, if you use GPS it will have problems in there.  However nearby Bull Creek with distinctive logs in the creek is always available as a reference.

Randy Stoltmann redwood
Randy Stoltmann redwood

 

It appears one very tall redwood in Harper Flat has fallen.  It was the north side of this pair, note the root ball.

Harper Flat tall tree down
Harper Flat tall tree down

 

Now for a little bit more ….

 

4      Tallest tree Lists

 

The tallest tree lists have not been updated for a while with any new measurement results kept private. So what is the current top twenty is anybody’s guess.  Many redwoods, including Hyperion, have apparently increased their growth rates in the last ten years.  This could be due to an increase in annual sunlight coupled with a higher level of atmospheric carbon.  More sunlight and more carbon in the atmosphere provide more energy for photosynthesis.  Then also the state wide drought has been less severe in northern California, so there has been sufficient seasonal rainfall on top of the frequent fog drip.

For Hyperion, I am pretty sure it is still the tallest tree.  There was a recent Facebook Live ranger talk where it was mentioned the tallest tree in Redwood National Park was 380 feet four inches tall (115.92 meters).  That has to be Hyperion, it was confirmed at 380.12 or so a couple years ago and was noted as growing.  Helios is about three feet behind based on published heights a couple years ago and still has a lot of catching up to do.

Based on growth rates and a few scraps of information, this would be my guess at a current top fifteen list:

Name Park 2016 Height Estimate (Feet)
Hyperion RNP 380.3
Helios RNP 377.2
Stratosphere Giant HRSP 373.9
Lauralyn HRSP 372.4
Nugget RNP 372.0
Paradox HRSP 371.4
Orion RNP 371.2
Icarus RNP 371.2
Millennium HRSP 370.7
Paul Zinke HRSP 370.1
Mother & Daughter HRSP 369.8
Mendocino MWR 368.4
Minaret HRSP 368.4
Pipe Dream HRSP 367.9

 

And more of a little bit more …..

 

5      The Big Reveal Website

 

The big reveal web site has been populated with GPS and hiking directions to some of the tallest and largest redwoods for about 18 months now.  For trees right by roads such as Drury Tree or Howland Hills Giant this site has not had much impact, as there was already a huge amount of wear around the trees.

Although my visits to redwoods are infrequent, I have noted newly created human foot traffic trails around both the Mendocino redwood and unfortunately coming out of the creek up to Hyperion.  Wear and tear will happen even if people take care.  It just has to happen when say over a few months a couple hundred people make their way through the ferns up to Hyperion.  This is the down side to the big reveal web site.  If people were searching for Hyperion here and there, then any effect of off trail hiking was spread out.  Now it is concentrated to the routes leading up to and around these trees.

Now the up side is that site has helped a number of people, including me, find some notable and amazing redwoods.  Not that futile searches are bad, any old growth redwood grove is magnificent. Then also for casual tourists there is lots of information on drive thru trees as well as notable redwoods adjacent to trails.

It would be very good if the big reveal web site could refrain from publishing details for locations and hiking routes to Helios and Grogan’s Fault.  You have already proved you are good at uncovering and using clues and also can do some tough hiking.  Your immersive photography is also very nice.  How about leaving a little mystery to the tree search for those who like to intuitively search for trees versus following GPS, and at the same time keeping the approach and area around a couple exemplary redwoods pristine.  If you locate either Helios or Grogan’s Fault put up your immersive photography, with some care to not show too much, and refrain from location description, hiking directions, or GPS.  Just an idea for you.  I don’t know you but I think you could be receptive to this suggestion.

Thanks for reading.

The Largest Redwoods – An Unfinished Story

1      Tree Height Versus Tree Volume

 

Tree height is an easy concept.  Measure the top and measure ground level and you have tree height.  Tree volume is more difficult to grasp.  The solid parts of a tree take up a certain amount of space, and that is the tree’s volume.  Since a tree is a tapering cylinder, cone cross section formulas can be used to estimate volumes of a tree by section.  Then sometimes the volume of the branches is estimated as well.  So tree volume is a pretty complicated business to nail down with precision.  For large redwoods the formula for a perfect cone usually gets you in the ballpark for estimating tree volume.

At some point in the near future technology may allow for rapid assessment of tree volumes in the same way the onset of laser rangefinders allowed for rapid assessment of tree height starting around the year 2000.  Think of a quadcopter with a digital camera that can measure tree height and width at various increments as it flies around and up and down a tree’s trunk.   Then think of this quadcopter moving up and down a hillside, doing these measurements for all trees over a certain size on the ridge.    This technology measures the trunk only.   Measuring limb volume is much more complex, and generally limb volume is not included when noting the volume of the largest trees.

2      The Largest Redwoods – A Very Incomplete List

 

There are lists which show the largest known redwoods in terms of volume and the tallest known redwoods in terms of height.  The height list is certainly complete or near complete as airplane based LiDAR measurements have allowed for whole forests to be measured for height.  However the largest volume list is incomplete, perhaps markedly incomplete.

Although trails have been built through and near many exemplary redwood groves, there are many areas with exemplary redwoods which have no trails.  Places such as the west side of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the Lost Man Creek area in Redwood National Park, and  the slopes above Redwood creek.    Even in areas with trails there could be very large redwoods tucked out of sight just a little bit away from the trails.

Now think about where the largest volume redwoods have been located.   Mostly in groves that have trails.  Why are so many of the largest redwoods located in Prairie Creek Redwoods?  For one, Prairie Creek has a lot of great redwood habitat with lots of alluvial flats and sheltered hillsides.  But also Prairie Creek has many trails through this habitat to make the identification of large trees easier.   What is different between Prairie Creek and the nearby groves of Redwood National Park?   Not much, at least for the groves that are relatively low in elevation.  But Prairie Creek has a much more complete trail system through its groves.

Let’s amplify this point with some statistics.

 

3      Most Redwoods Over 25,000 Cubic Feet are Yet To Be Discovered

 

If we assess the volume distribution of the top 25 giant sequoias and top 25 coast redwoods we see the relative volume between the largest and 25th largest trees in each group is similar.  In other words, each group covers the same relative range in volume.

Sequoia and Coast Redwood Top 25 Largest Trees Relative Volumes
Sequoia and Coast Redwood Top 25 Largest Trees Relative Volumes

 

So sequoias and coast redwoods have the same relative range from the largest through the 25th largest tree.   But there are many, many more mature redwoods than mature sequoias.

Species Trees/Acre Old Growth Acres Old Growth Trees
Giant Sequoia 3        38,000       114,000
Coast Redwood 8        85,000       680,000

Here the coast redwood old growth acres include only the northern redwood parks.

So there are 6X as many old growth redwoods in their prime range than the total number of old growth sequoias.  Yet the band for the top 25 trees in each species is the same?   There is only one explanation for this, and that is many, many of the largest redwoods have been missed, so far.

As a second comparison, let’s review the relative volume distribution for the twenty five largest redwoods versus the relative height distribution for the twenty five tallest redwoods.  How do those bands look?  Well they look really, really different.

Top 25 Largest and Tallest Redwoods relative volumes
Top 25 Largest and Tallest Redwoods relative volumes and relative heights

 

The 25th tallest redwood is about 95% as tall as the tallest redwood.  The 25th largest redwood is about 60% as large as the largest redwood.   Why the difference?   All or almost all of the tallest redwoods have been identified, through the use of laser rangefinder and LiDAR technology.  And many of the largest redwoods have not been found, as there is no comparable technology to quickly assess tree volume.

The current largest coast redwood tree lists have 25 trees over 24,000 cubic feet.   That is only a sample, there are probably over 100 such trees.  And almost certainly several trees are out there that are larger than 38,000 cubic feet.

So lots of discoveries to be made.   And lots of upcoming technology in the form of quad copters with smart digital imaging to assist researchers in making the discoveries.

Thanks for reading.

 

Hiking to Hyperion – Neither Triumph nor Failure

1      June 8, 2015.   The Big Day

The Hyperion redwood tree.  Tallest tree in the world.  It was always “there”, and probably passed over by more than a few redwood researchers and explorers.  But in August 2006 Michael Taylor and Chris Atkins put the rangefinders on the tree and found a height of 378 feet, making it the new tallest tree.  And in 2016 it remains the world’s tallest tree, at 380 feet 4 inches.

So that’s great, but where is this tree?   Well, in 2006, and for many years after that, no one would say.   But the tree was featured in a best seller.  And even today you can go to You Tube to play views from Hyperion’s canopy, and order a CD from National Geographic if you want even clearer canopy views.  Those canopy views gave away the general area for Hyperion to a number of people, more so over time as Google Earth capabilities and clarity improved.

So armed with my “definitive” analysis, I was set to find Hyperion.  This was a third attempt.  The first time was very fun and interesting but wrong area.  The second time was also fun and interesting but still wrong area.  Gosh the remote areas of Redwood National Park are incredibly green and beautiful with many, many giant trees.  But the areas were wrong for Hyperion.  But this third time would be the charm, I hoped.

2      Off to Hyperion

 

Around 11 AM I arrived at the mouth of the suspected creek.  This required a crossing of Redwood Creek which was knee deep with a pretty quick flow but really not that difficult on this day.  This crossing is impossible in wetter months as Redwood Creek can be twenty feet deep.

The feeder creek, the one hopefully housing Hyperion, was very pleasant, with a lot of small frogs.  The creek bed has some uniform shaped stones which are a little slippery to walk over, I suspect these may be left over from the beds of logging roads that were once in the area.   Since I was alone I took care with every step, I did not want to slip and fall and hit my head on a rock, that would be really bad.  Every now and then there were some nettles to move aside and deeper pools to avoid.  I saw no human footprints.

There was a little under duck beneath a small log pile.  It looked solid enough and kind of served as an official entrance to the area of the creek where the mature redwoods start.   It was almost as if a sign could be put up there that says “This Way to Hyperion Grove”.

This Way to Hyperion
This Way to Hyperion

 

So all was well, I was making slow progress up the creek.  But then, some motion to my left, followed by the loudest, most guttural bellow I had ever heard.  And the source was close.  A bear, and he or she was very pissed off at me!   Well, I bellowed right back, HEY!!!!, and stomped around the creek.  I never heard from the bear again, it must have then moved out of the area.   Sounds unbelievable, but this is the honest to goodness truth.

The bear trap
The bear trap

 

Now armed with an extra dose of adrenaline I continued up the creek.  There were some nice tall redwoods to the right up on the hillside.  They didn’t exactly look like some of the Hyperion pictures, but who knows.

Hyperion Teasers
Hyperion Teasers

 

But I knew I needed to keep going.  I had one more good clue, a picture of some guys climbing over a log pile.  I was looking for that log pile.  And then, forty careful minutes into the hike up the creek, there it was, the log pile.  I was right!  This was Hyperion’s creek!

Log Pile Near Hyperion
Log Pile Near Hyperion

 

3      Hyperion Grove

 

So up and over that log pile I went.   Just like the guys in the photo.  No problems.   After that I was really amongst the old growth, with big mature trees on both sides of the creek.  The sweet smell of bay laurel / pepper wood permeated the air and the big timber muffled all sounds.  I knew Hyperion would be on the right side of the creek as moving upstream and right in this area.  So where was it, which tree is it?  There were a couple dozen to pick from.

Now I need to tell you Hyperion looks nothing like many of the pre 2015 photos on the internet.  It is much closer to the creek, just above the end of the sword ferns.  And it is very eroded on the downhill side, really pitifully eroded.  That tree could fall anytime, at least that’s the way it looks to me.   If it were growing that way along 101 I think Cal Trans would cut it down.  And those pictures of the grove called “Hyperion from Below” – no, they are not from below, they are from across the creek’s valley.

So I walked right by Hyperion.  Saw it, said nah, and walked right by it.  Unbelievable, but true.  I am sure others have done it.   A short way further along I saw a couple trees on the right that were good suspects.  And I saw another tree further ahead that looked like a candidate.  But I was getting tired, the day was moving along, and I decided to go up through the ferns right there to the two trees.

Candidate tree - not Hyperion
Candidate tree – not Hyperion

 

Candidate trees near Hyperion
Candidate trees near Hyperion

 

After hiking to the two trees I realized they were not Hyperion and its neighbor.  So I sat there for a while, feeling defeated.   I did not realize I was sitting sixty feet west of Hyperion and its neighbor.  The neighbor was blocking Hyperion and the distinguishing adjacent log.  So after about twenty minutes of reflection I walked back down to the creek, looking right at Hyperion on the way down.  I can still see it in my mind.  I didn’t recognize it for what it was.  How about that.

Here is my GPS trace of the hike in the Hyperion area, it is a little erratic versus my actual course but generally correct.  H1 is Hyperion’s location.  What a stunning effort and what a colossal albeit temporary setback.

Trace of hike in Hyperion area
Trace of hike in Hyperion area

 

Later last summer more information on Hyperion was leaked and I was able to go back later in the year and locate the tree no problem.  While sitting behind Hyperion I looked over to the two redwoods I was sitting beside three months earlier and just shook my head.

Hyperion
Hyperion

 

 

Thanks for reading.

Hiking to Redwood Tree Cathedrals

1      Redwood Tree Cathedrals

Tall redwood trees tend to grow in groups.  There are specific areas with the best soil, sufficient moisture, protection from wind, and the right mix of sun and fog to promote tall tree growth.  I recently spent a few days in the redwood parks hiking to tall trees along or near trails but still a little bit away from areas where most visitors hike.  These areas with tall trees are nature’s cathedrals, with the trunks serving as pillars and the crowns serving as rounded ceilings hundreds of feet off the forest floor.

2      Humboldt Redwoods

 

Day one hiking was in the Bull Creek Flats area in Humboldt.   I wanted to get some pictures from the “101 Big Cut” near Founders Grove.   On the way to that location there is a spectacular new tree fall at the Dyerville Giant location.   The Dyerville Giant was a tall redwood that fell in 1991 and its big log remains in Founders Grove.   Sometime in the early Spring an adjacent redwood fell across that big log and split in several sections.

Tree fall across Dyerville Giant in Founders Grove
Tree fall across Dyerville Giant in Founders Grove

 

Then on to the Big Cut Trail.  It is a moderately difficult twisting hike up to the top but the reward is a really nice view of the Bull Creek redwoods as well as some interesting civil engineering where the Avenue of the Giants crosses over US 101.

Looking up Bull Creek from Big Cut
Looking up Eel River South Fork from Big Cut

 

I spent some time in the Harper Flats area near Giant tree.  This area is thick with very tall even aged redwoods.  It is indeed a tall trees cathedral.

Harper Flat tall redwood
Harper Flat tall redwood
Harper Flat Cathedral
Harper Flat Cathedral

 

Another nice area visited was along Bull Creek a couple miles upstream from the Eel River South Fork.  I located a beautiful very tall round domed redwood right along Bull Creek.  Across the creek from this tree there are two tree trunks rubbing against each other in the wind, this makes a loud screeching sound which kind of sounds like whales singing.

Tall redwood along Bull Creek
Tall redwood along Bull Creek

 

Then in the flats above Bull Creek in this area is a scenic somewhat open forest area with big and tall redwoods.

Nice redwood mid Bull Creek Flats south side
Nice redwood mid Bull Creek Flats south side
Patriarch Forest Cathedral
Patriarch Forest Cathedral

 

3      Redwood National Park Tall Trees Grove to Forty Four Creek

 

On another day I hiked the Tall Trees Grove trail, crossed Redwood Creek on a seasonal footbridge which had just been put in that day, then hiked Redwood Creek trail north to Forty Four creek.  I had hoped to get a good view of the remnant redwood grove along Forty Four creek but did not have clear views of the crowns from the trail.   However the bridge and Forty Four creek are both scenic.  Be very careful on the bridge as some sections of the side rails are missing.

Forty four creek bridge
Forty four creek bridge
Forty Four Creek
Forty Four Creek

 

On the way back up and out I stopped at the Redwood Creek overlook and watched the evening fog roll up Redwood Creek valley from the Pacific Oean. It comes in at a pretty quick pace, maybe ten miles per hour on this day.

 

4      Redwood National Park Redwood Creek Trailhead to Elam Creek

 

The northern portions of Redwood Creek trail provide nice views of the redwoods along Redwood Creek in several areas, particularly where the trail crosses Redwood Creek just a little north of McArthur Creek.   Just north of the Elam Creek Bridge there is a side trail that goes up to the Elam Horse Camp and then intersects with one of the horse trails.  This horse trail follows Elam Creek upstream for about half a mile, then there is a single file bridge where the riders and horses cross Elam Creek.   This bridge affords a spectacular view of very tall redwood trees that surround Elam Creek at this point.  It is a real back country redwood tree cathedral.

Elam Creek half mile up north slope redwood
Elam Creek half mile up north slope redwood
Elam creek half mile up another tall redwood on the north slope
Elam creek half mile up another tall redwood on the north slope
Elam Creek half mile up tall redwoods on south slope
Elam Creek half mile up tall redwoods on south slope

 

5      Redwood National Park Trillium Falls Trail

 

The Trillium Falls trail forms a nice loop through old growth redwoods.  The first part of the trail up to Trillium Falls is pretty busy but after that point the trail is less busy.  This is probably due to the steep climb to the upland redwoods and the overall length of the loop (about 3 miles).

Trillium Falls itself is very scenic.  There are also very nice redwoods around these falls.  Then past the falls there are some areas with really big and ancient redwoods.

Trillium Falls
Trillium Falls
Trillium Falls trail big trees grove
Trillium Falls trail big trees grove

6      Redwood National Park Flint Ridge Trail

 

There are big redwoods on the climb up Flint Ridge from the Klamath River.   On this day I wasn’t able to get to this area due to trail conditions.  But reading about the 1964 flood and viewing what remains of the original Klamath River coastal highway bridge was very interesting.  This old bridge has bear statues too, just like the new one.

Old Klamath River bridge
Old Klamath River bridge

7      Jedediah Smith Redwoods Trails

 

One up side from missing Flint Ridge was it provided some time to get up to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.  Road repairs had just been completed and the park was accessible from the south all the way up to Stout Grove.  I did some hiking in the big trees area and enjoyed trail side views of some big redwoods.

Distant view of Del Norte Titan crown
Distant view of Del Norte Titan crown
Sacajawea
Sacajawea

8      Montgomery Woods

 

On another day I met my friends Jerry and Teri Beranek for a hike through Montgomery Woods.  The many tall redwoods in the flats above the earthen dam and below the surrounding steep hillsides form a continuous redwood cathedral.   I get a lot of insights and plant identifications when hiking with Jerry and Teri.  Jerry has a couple new books, one on Humboldt and one on Prairie Creek.  They are very good, providing interesting background and perspective and many great photos and maps.  Look for them in the gift shops along the Avenue of the Giants and the Humboldt Visitors Center.

All three pieces entered ground at same angle
All three pieces entered ground at same angle
Montgomery Woods Cathedral
Montgomery Woods Cathedral

 

Thanks for reading.

Height Changes in Very Tall Coast Redwood Trees

1      Redwood Tree Height

In the past twenty years it has become possible to systemically search old growth redwood forests for tall trees.  Overhead LiDAR data can identify very tall trees.  Then follow up measurements with laser range finders can identify height accurately within a foot or so.  If more accuracy is required then advanced climbing techniques followed by the use of a measuring pole and direct tape drop can accurately measure height with a precision of a centimeter or so.

For trees on slopes or mounded trees there is still some judgement involved when determining true ground level.  So not everyone will agree on the exact height of certain very tall redwoods.

2      Average Annual Height Changes in Redwood Trees

 

Using published sources the height of the one hundred tallest known redwoods in 2000 can be compared to the 2012 height for the exact same trees.  When doing this comparison several interesting observations can be made.

  • First, ALL one hundred tallest known redwoods from 2000 were still standing in 2012. Assuming each individual tree has a one in a thousand chance of toppling in a given year there is a 70 percent chance at least one tree would fall during this period.  But none did.   So a quiet interval for the redwoods, versus the 1990’s when two of the tallest redwoods fell (Telperion and Dyerville Giant).
  • Second, just six of the one hundred tallest known redwoods lost height from 2000 to 2012. So very little die back of the tops.
  • Third, about one third of the one hundred tallest trees grew at an average rate of six inches or more per year. That’s a pretty good growth rate for an old growth redwood tree.

3      Some Tables Concerning Height Changes

 

This table shows twelve year height changes by individual tree, with the starting heights sorted from low to high as move from left to right.  Here note some of the tallest redwoods had pretty good growth rates but overall there is a slightly negative association between starting tree height and height change.

Height Change vs Height Rank
Height Change vs Height Rank

 

 

This table shows the average height change in feet per year by park.  Note the low tree count for Redwood National Park, many of the tallest redwoods in RNP were unidentified in the year 2000.

On average these tallest redwoods gained three inches in height per year.

Height Change by Park
Height Change by Park

 

 

This table shows detail for areas of Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  Note the fastest growth area is the even aged very tall stand of redwoods in Harper Flat.   Here the redwoods averaged almost five inches of growth per year.

Height Change by Humboldt Area
Height Change by Humboldt Area, chg/yr in feet

 

4      Height Changes for a Few Specific Redwoods

 

Here are examples of trees with negative of zero change in height.

Giant Tree. About nine feet shorter than the sign says.
Giant Tree. Lost about a foot in height over 12 years.

 

Redwood Creek Giant - no height change
Redwood Creek Giant – no height change but nice emoji

 

These three top ten tallest redwoods all had about the same average annual increase in height per year between 2000 and 2012, about 3.5 inches.

THE Stratosphere Giant
THE Stratosphere Giant

 

Paradox
Paradox

 

Laurelin, as inspired by Tolkien
Laurelin, as inspired by Tolkien

 

This is Nugget in Redwood National Park, it increased in height a bit more between 2000 and 2012 than the other top ten redwoods, about 4.25 inches per year.

Nugget
Nugget

 

There were two redwood trees on Harper Flat that grew a whopping seven feet between 2000 and 2012.   This tree is one of them.

Harper Flat up seven feet in twelve years
Harper Flat redwood up seven feet in twelve years

 

The two tallest redwoods, Hyperion and Helios, are not included in these tables as their discovery year was after 2000.  In general Hyperion is growing relatively slowly compared to the other tallest redwoods while Helios is growing at a rate similar to Laurelin, Paradox, and Stratosphere Giant.

Hyperion did pick up the pace a bit after 2012.

 

Hyperion
Hyperion.  The tallest.

 

I read a Humboldt State dendrochronology (tree ring) study which indicated redwoods are putting on more mass now than at any other time in the past one thousand years.  This is also exhibited in the general height increase of all the tallest redwoods from 2000 to 2012.

Why is this?

 

 

 

 

Tall Redwoods Need Loads of Schist

1      Tall Redwoods and Creeks

There is an association between alluvial flats built up from by stream flood deposits and tall redwood trees.  The tall redwoods spread their roots through this nutrient rich soil, often in multiple iterations as alluvial soil builds up from flooding events over the centuries.   However these streams are not an important source of water for these redwood trees.  Instead high amounts of annual rainfall as well as year round fog drip provide the water for these giants.   However there is another way rich soil can accumulate to support the growth of tall redwoods.

2      Tall Redwoods and Schist Filled Benches

If you have been on the hillsides above redwood creeks you may have noticed several things.

  • First, the hillsides can be very steep, with gradients often between 20 and 40 percent.
  • Second, there are convex (slightly bowl shaped relative to the slope) benches that occur at different elevations on these hillsides.
  • Third, these benches have a dark, fine soil. That dark fine soil is called schist and when you stand on these benches you are standing on a pile of schist.   Schist is great soil to support redwood tree growth.    In the Redwood Creek Basin the soil on the hillsides (all of it) creeps about 2 millimeters per year and can also flow up to 200 millimeters during a very heavy rain event.  The convex shape of the hillside benches induces the capture of the creeping schist soil.  Presto, you have the perfect growing medium for a redwood.

If a redwood grows on a schist bench in an area that is within reach of fog year round it can grow very tall.  As tall as any redwood that grows in the alluvial flats.

Hyperion grows on a schist bench.  By all accounts Helios and Orion also grow on schist benches.

Much of the alluvial flat soil is schist that has washed, flowed, or crept down the hillside, mixed with the flowing creek, and then left on the flats above the creek banks as the waters receded.    To some extent this occurs every year during the transition from the wet to the dry season.  One type of schist soil is called greywacke.  There is a redwood on the upper Bull Creek flats in Humboldt Redwoods that is named Graywacke after this soil type.

 

3      Schist in Northern California Is Formed by Plate Tectonics

 

A lot of geology is hard for me to follow but apparently the schist associated with northern California redwood forests was induced by tectonic fracturing and shearing of underlying bedrock.  There is a tremendous amount of tectonic activity in the northern California redwood belt, as this is the location of the Mendocino Triple Junction where three large tectonic plates meet.   There is a subduction zone a short distance offshore which induces giant (9.0 magnitude) earthquakes every 300-500 years (the last one was in 1700).   Off the major faults are many minor faults, and the some of the notable redwood creeks follow these minor faults.  Examples are Redwood Creek following Grogan Fault and Lost Man Creek following Lost Man Fault.

The tectonic activity and associated periodic earthquakes have created the benches on the hillsides and contributed to the unstable nature of the soil formations.  The soil formations then  creep over time, allowing for the collection of the soil in the convex benches.

4      Schist in Northern California Needs Flooding for Active Transport

 

Heavy rains induce the hillside schist soils to flow over the underlying bedrock.  This can help the convex hillside benches “fill up” with soil as well as transport soil down to the creeks.  Once in the creek the schist soil mixes in with the fast moving floodwaters.  Then as the flood waters become less turbid and start to recede the schist falls out of solution and adds soil to the alluvial flats along the creek.

 

5      The Formula for Tall Redwoods in Northern California

 

A unique set of circumstances have combined to create the spectacular redwood forests in northern California.   These forests would not be as impressive or even exist at all if even one of these ingredients was missing:

  • High annual rainfall
  • Some fog to provide moisture during the dry season
  • Temperatures above freezing year round
  • Incredibly rich schist soils which are the product of tectonic activity
  • Flooding rainfalls to move the soil into the convex benches and build the alluvial flats

Forests with tall redwoods need earthquakes and floods to thrive over the millennia.

 

6      It is Difficult to Measure the Height of Redwoods on Hillsides

 

Exceptional redwoods have been noted and measured in the northern California redwood forests for over fifty years.  Looking through the data the redwood dimensions are defined in these ways:

  • Diameter (or circumference which we recall from trignometry is pi x diameter).  This is by far the easiest dimension to measure as you walk up to the trunk and use a tape wrap or rangefinder to do the measurement.
  • Height. This can be difficult as the top of the tree needs to be hit at a distance with a rangefinder, then the height differential between the measure point and the point where the trunk meets soil needs to be determined.
  • American Forestry Points:  Trunk circumference inches plus height in feet plus one fourth average crown spread in feet.  So here the crown spread has been added as an additional measurement to base circumference and height.
  • Mass or volume. This is exceedingly difficult to measure and requires multiple measure points along the trunk as well as some kind of estimate of wood in the limbs and branches.  Based on the overall shape of the redwood formulas for different geometric cone forms can be used as an estimate.

When a tall redwood is on a hillside all these measurements become more difficult.

  • For diameter the determination of average breast height (4.5 feet) measure point can involve some judgement as the point where the trunk meets soil can be ten feet higher on the up slope side of the tree versus the down slope side of the tree.
  • For height the elevation differential between measure point and trunk elevation can become difficult. Many hillside redwood tops will measure around five hundred feet in height from a measure point on the flats but how high is the tree base above the flat?   The GPS can become a little erratic on a remote forested hillside and GPS altitude  readings are usually a little off.  So even if you get coordinates right at the trunk that may or may not be correct for altitude.

Also LiDAR has had its problems measuring trees on slopes.   If a tree leans to the downhill the height will be overestimated.  But there are also many redwood trees that lean a little uphill.  This is due to the downslope buttressing seen in many hillside redwoods.   Redwoods leaning uphill will have an underestimated LiDAR height.  By the way, this hillside buttressing is an area of controversy in determining the ground level for hillside redwoods.

Demonstrated LiDAR errors for redwoods heights are up to five percent.  This would result in an 18 foot or so error for a very tall redwood.

It is possible the tallest redwood is not Hyperion but rather a hillside redwood that has been missed so far.   It is very easy to walk right by a tall hillside redwood.  There is a chance a redwood or two growing out of a schist bench on a steep hillside slope could be taller than Hyperion.  As one redwood explorer has commented, “chance has potential”.

7      Views of Tall Redwoods Growing on Schist Filled Hillside Benches

 

Tall redwoods growing on schist filled bench above Redwood Creek tributary
Tall redwoods growing on schist filled bench above Redwood Creek tributary

 

Tall redwoods growing along schist filled bench above Lost Man Creek
Tall redwoods growing along schist filled bench above Lost Man Creek

 

8      Views of Tall Redwoods Growing on Schist Filled Alluvial Flats

 

Harper Flat. Even aged forest of tall redwoods with many fusions. Fused redwoods are clonal sprouts from same roots that fused over time as the trunks touched and grew. Even age of stand and clonal fusions due to flooding event 1,000 years ago.
Harper Flat. Even aged forest of tall redwoods with many fusions. Fused redwoods are clonal sprouts from same roots that fused over time as the trunks touched and grew. Even age of stand and bias toward clonal propagation  due to flooding event 1,000 years ago.

 

Redwood National Park Tall Trees Grove. Iconic alluvial flats grove.
Redwood National Park Tall Trees Grove. Iconic alluvial flats grove.

 

 

Cascadia Subduction Earthquakes – Effects on Redwood Forests

 

1      Bull Creek Giant – January 26, 1700

Please note this section involves speculation but is based on a known geologic event.

The Bull Creek Giant stands as the king of the redwood forests along Bull Creek in what will become Humboldt Redwoods State Park in northern California.  Its top leaves quiver in the evening breeze 390 feet above its 21 foot diameter base. It is nine in the evening, and wispy fingers of fog are starting to flow up the Eel River and into Bull Creek Canyon.  The forest is very green and damp from the ample winter rains.

Suddenly a pulse moves through the ground underneath the giant redwood.  Then a few seconds later the ground starts to rumble, then shake, then lurch.  The shaking continues for one minute….two minutes…..three minutes……four minutes and gets worse and worse minute by minute.  The root ball of the giant starts to twist in relation to the axis of the tree.  This induces a circular motion at the top of the tree with ever increasing centrifugal force.  Suddenly the top sixty feet of the tree snap off and crash to the earth.   Now the shaking starts to decrease in intensity and then ends rather quickly.  There will be many strong aftershocks during the upcoming hours and days but the main event is over.  For the third time in its lifetime the Bull Creek Giant has endured a 9.0 magnitude Cascadia subduction earthquake.  This time the redwood did not get off damage free.   It is no longer the tallest tree on Earth.

Bull Creek Giant - survivor of at least three 8.7 to 9.2 magnitude earthquakes
Bull Creek Giant – survivor of at least three 8.7 to 9.2 magnitude earthquakes

 

2      Original American Villages in Areas That Will Become Eureka, Arcata, Orick, and Crescent City – January 26, 1700

Please note this section involves speculation though it is based on oral traditions and a known geologic event.

Groups of native, or original, Americans have lived along the Pacific Northwest coast for over ten thousand years.  In the oral traditions of these peoples are stories of past giant earthquakes followed by walls of water coming in off the ocean.   At 9 PM the inevitable happens and another great quake occurs.  The ground  shakes violently, knocking people off their feet and caving in walls and roofs.  The people who are able to do so act on their oral traditions and immediately start walking to higher ground.  The people who are trapped in debris or otherwise unable to move to higher ground are tragically drowned twenty minutes later by a great upheaval of water originating a few hundred miles offshore.

Redwood National Park ocean front south of Orick
Redwood National Park ocean front south of Orick

 

3      Redwood Forests – 2016

 

The present day remaining old growth redwood forests are very special.   They give us a view into what forests looked like many millions of years ago and are also places of great scenic beauty.   These trees are very long lived and well able to withstand a lot of what nature dishes out.   Be it forest fires, winter storms with hurricane force winds, flooding rainfalls, and even 9.0 magnitude earthquakes, many redwood trees endure.  But many are damaged in some way by these events, and sometimes these trees come crashing down to the ground, the whole entire tree, all at once.

I would like to speculate the 9.0 magnitude Cascadia subduction earthquakes occurring every five hundred years or so have effects on redwood forests in ways that have not yet been documented.  These effects could include the following:

Even aged reiterations in crowns:   The 9.0 magnitude earthquakes cause tops of trees to whipsaw and snap off.  This effect has been documented in the Forest of Nisene Marks at the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.   Perhaps there are clusters of reiterations in cadence with the timing of the past large earthquakes in 1700 AD, 1310 AD, 810 AD, 400 AD, and 170 BC.

Twisted redwoods:  The cause of twisting in some trunks is not well understood.  Perhaps one influence is the reorientation of the axis of the tree due to twisting of the roots caused by the large intermittent earthquakes.

Bends in trunks:  Some redwoods have a pronounced bend in the trunk.  These could originate with leans induced by rapid subsidence due to earthquakes followed by the trees then growing straight sections.

Even aging of downed redwoods:  Once redwood trees fall they still persist on the ground for hundreds of years.  Core samples can be taken from a sample of downed redwoods and the rings cross dated to the core samples taken from many standing redwoods.  In this way the last growth year of the downed redwoods can be determined.   I predict the year 1699 will come up much more often than by chance.

Possible even aged crown reiterations in Humboldt Rockefeller Loop Eel River front
Possible even aged crown reiterations in Humboldt Federation Grove redwoods fronting the Eel River

 

Redwood National Park trunk with twisting
Redwood National Park trunk with twisting

 

 

4      Eureka, Arcata, Orick, and Crescent City – 2016

 

When you drive along Route 101 in and near the towns of Eureka, Arcata, Orick, and Crescent City you will see blue signs with a symbol of a person moving uphill from a large wave.  These signs will say “Tsunami Hazard Zone” or “Tsunami Evacuation Route” or “Tsunami Evacuation Site”, or something similar.   Should a large earthquake occur while you are along 101 or other low lying areas in or near these towns heed these signs.  The people living in these areas are well aware of the risks associated with major earthquakes and know to get to higher ground immediately, most likely by walking as the roads will be damaged and gridlocked.   It is very doable as there are many hills and getting to one hundred foot elevation should be safe enough.  Then they know to wait there until the all clear, most likely several hours later as there will probably be multiple tsunamis, with the first starting 15 to 30 minutes after the initial earthquake.

According to numerous credible websites there is a ten percent chance a major (8.7 to 9.2 magnitude) Cascadia subduction earthquake will occur in the next fifty years.   The full threat of these earthquakes was not realized until 2005, and many buildings and infrastructure have earlier construction or remodel dates. For this reason as well as the sheer size of the event the primary impact of Cascadia subduction earthquakes will be damage to buildings and infrastructure.  However the tsunami threat to low lying areas is also of great concern.

Since 2005 a lot of good work has gone into threat identification and preparation for the inevitable upcoming event.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Record Breaking Redwoods Outside the Redwood National and State Parks?

1      Tall Forests – NASA Canopy Height Mapping

 

NASA maintains a global canopy height map on its website. This map is comprised of airplane based LIDAR mapping (2.4% of land mapped for canopy height) and satellite based “spectroradiometer” equipment (97.6% of land area mapped for canopy height). The canopy height is appropriately in shades of progressively darker green with the darkest green indicating at least eighty percent of the tree canopy in the area is over 70 meters (230 feet).   All the dark green areas in northern California are old growth redwood stands.   The average tree height in old growth stands in northern California is 250-300 feet, with maximum demonstrated individual tree height at 380 feet.   To see more on this subject see my posting on “Distribution of Tree Height in an Old Growth Redwood Forest”.

Below is a portion of the Global Canopy Height map that includes the area from Fortuna to Klamath. The dark green (old growth redwood) forests have been noted from north to south.   The old growth forests include Prairie Creek Redwoods and Redwood National Parks. No surprises there. However there are five additional areas with large enough tracts of old growth redwoods to be discernable on the global canopy height map.

You can click on the map to see a larger version.

 

NASA Global Canopy height map - Eureka to Klamath
NASA Global Canopy height map – Eureka to Klamath

2      Lesser Known Areas With Old Growth Redwood Forests

 

From north to south here are some comments on the lesser known areas with old growth redwoods forests.

Six Rivers National Forest High Prairie Creek Section and Yurok Redwood Experimental Forest

This area is low elevation and is protected from the ocean by a large ridge and has riparian zones along High Prairie Creek.   These are perfect conditions for large and tall redwoods and indeed there are many large tree crowns in this area as seen on Google Earth.

This area does not have any public access and most requests for special access will be declined.

This could be the best area for old growth redwoods between Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and the trees in this forest are representative of the redwoods found in those parks.

Yurok Experimental Forest and Six Rivers NF near Klamath
Yurok Experimental Forest and Six Rivers NF near Klamath (Google Earth view)

 

Private Holdings – GDRC and HRC

The GDRC dominates timber holdings north of Eureka while HRC has extensive holdings around Eureka and south.   Both these companies provide detailed publicly available management plans and holdings maps. Most of their holdings are managed second growth but they do have some old growth forests. Any old growth areas of three acres or more are voluntarily and permanently protected from harvesting and road construction by both of these companies.

I am not familiar with the access requirements for these areas but certainly written permission would be required from the respective company.

 

Headwaters Reserve

Some folks call this the “mysterious Headwaters Reserve”.   It was the scene of some famous forest protection protests in the 1990’s and culminated in 1999 with a $380 million purchase of 7,000 acres from the owning lumber company, of which 3,000 acres are old growth redwoods. The purchase was 100% taxpayer funded, $250 million from the Federal government and $130 million from the state of California. The Reserve is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The Reserve does have public access though it is limited.   There is a north approach which requires a five mile hike or bike from a parking area to reach the heart of the reserve.   Then there is a south approach from near Fortuna that requires a reservation and meeting up with a representative of the reserve.

This reserve contains a few redwoods in the 360 feet height range. This is exceptionally tall, there are less than sixty redwoods throughout their range that are over 360 feet in height. Undoubtedly there are exceptionally large diameter and volume trees in this reserve as well.

Headwaters Reserve low elevation north section (close in Google Earth view)
Headwaters Reserve low elevation north section (close in Google Earth view)

 

3      Record Breaking Redwoods Outside the Redwood State and National Parks?

 

Any of the lesser known areas highlighted above could hold a record breaking tall redwood tree. It is not likely but there is a chance. As one well known redwood explorer writes – “chance has potential”.

Based on the existing information on tallest redwoods, a super tall redwood can grow anywhere from near sea level to around 900 feet in elevation.   That covers a lot of ground. As long as the soil is good, there is some protection from wind from surrounding trees and hills, and there are year round water sources (nearby creeks, springs, and fog drip) a very tall redwood is a possibility.

Then to increase the possibility there needs to be a forest of trees growing in conditions for super tall redwoods. Each of the lesser known areas outlined above contains such a forest, as confirmed by the NASA global canopy height map.

For the same reasons there could also be very large (over 20,000 cubic feet) redwoods in these areas as well.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Distribution of Tree Height in an Old Growth Redwood Forest

1      Old Growth Redwoods

 

Old growth redwoods – that phrase invokes a lot of different feelings in people. Certainly in the present the phrase describes the large never cut forests in the redwood parks. Forests full of giant trees, some by rivers or streams and others along hillsides. Forests covered with needles and sorrel and forests covered with ferns. Forests with deer moving through them to reach the creeks, all the while shadowed by mountain lions. Forests with black bear dens. Remote and rugged but never more than a few miles from a highway.

Two parks with many acres of old growth redwoods as well as the ten tallest trees in the world are Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Redwood National Park.   Each parks contains hundreds of thousands of old growth redwood trees.   Here is the math:

Park Acres Old Growth Redwoods # Redwood Trees > 100 cm per Hectare # Acres per Hectare # Old Growth Redwood Trees
HRSP                    17,000 50 2.47                            344,130
RNP                    19,640 50 2.47                            397,571

 

The redwood density figure is a general rounding of the findings in a redwood plots study underway at Humboldt State University.

If that number seems too high, well…. Here are two pictures.   These are from the Redwood Creek Overlook on Bald Hills Road in Redwood National Park.   The old growth forests and patches are very distinctive.   If you go to that overlook and put a strong pair of binoculars on those forests it is an impressive site.   Many big and tall trees all growing along Redwood Creek and the surrounding feeder creeks and hillsides. I can’t imagine a more spectacular forest. It is kind of intimidating.

Redwood Creek Overlook looking west northwest.
Redwood Creek Overlook looking west northwest.

 

Redwood Creek Overlook west southwest view
Redwood Creek Overlook west southwest view

 

2      Height Distribution for the Tallest Trees

 

Thorough ground based searches combined with LiDAR technology have given a pretty complete picture of tree height in all parks with the exception of the Headwaters Reserve. The tallest redwoods, those over 365 feet, are all in Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Redwood National Park, with the exception of two trees in the exceptional Montgomery Woods Reserve. Then all the trees over 370 feet (there are only ten or so) are in Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Redwood National Park.

 

Trees over 350 feet.  Each line represents a tree.
Trees over 350 feet. Each line represents a tree.

 

There are two things that are apparent when viewing these graphs. First, the distribution patterns are very similar between the parks. And second, there are a lot more tall trees in HRSP than in RNP. Based on this data paired with the history of each park the explanation is certainly this: In Humboldt most of the forests with the tallest trees are intact. In Redwood National Park most of the forests with the tallest trees have been thinned or removed.

 

3      Height Distribution for Old Growth Redwood Trees

 

Noting the steepness of the curve on the tall trees graph it is evident there is some type of “bell shaped” distribution where there are many trees of a certain height, say 350 feet, then the trees get fewer and fewer at 360 feet and even more scarce at 370 feet.

Using this information and the total number of old growth redwoods we can infer the number of trees of certain heights:

Std Deviations Expected Pct of Trees Less Than HRSP Expected Trees RNP Expected Trees HRSP + RNP Expected Trees
2 97.725%                      7,829                      9,045                              16,874
3 99.865%                          465                          537                                1,001
4 99.997%                            11                            13                                      23
4.5 99.99966%                              1                              1                                        3
5 99.99997% 0.0981 0.1133 0.21

Looking at the results of expected trees versus actual tree populations, it is evident four standard deviations describes 368 feet or so redwoods, while 4.5 standard deviations describes the very tallest redwoods (380 feet).

Then with some calculations and interpolation, we can arrive at three standard deviations corresponding to a 338 foot redwood tree.   This then results with the following very approximate distribution of tree height in old growth redwood forests in Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Redwood National Park.

Std Dev Height Feet
4.5 383
4 368
3 338
2 308
1 278
0 248
-1 218
-2 188
-3 158
-4 128
-4.5 113

 

So the average old growth redwood in Humboldt and Redwood NP is 250 feet tall.  Remember this covers all old growth trees at all elevations that are at least 3.28 feet in diameter.

Then there are 1,000 trees over 338 feet in height.

What do you think?

 

4      Old Growth Redwood Groves Close Ups

 

For some closer in views of old growth, here are pictures from two of my favorite areas in the redwood parks.   There are views like this all over the redwood parks.

 

Humboldt Bull Creek outflow
Humboldt Bull Creek outflow

 

Redwood NP Lost Man Creek area
Redwood NP Lost Man Creek area

 

Thanks for viewing and reading.

 

Montgomery Redwoods Hike

 

1      Tall trees In A Small Area

 

Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve is a very scenic spot with a high concentration of very tall redwood trees.   The tall trees list shows 17 trees in this reserve over 350 feet in height. The tallest redwood in the reserve (Mendocino Redwood) is about 368 feet tall and is the 11th or so tallest tree in the world.   The tall trees over 350 feet are found throughout the reserve – in the lower, middle, and upper flats. But that is a small area – a long stretched oval about 1.5 miles around and only 150 or so yards wide.

I had the fortune to recently hike through this reserve with Jerry Beranek. Jerry is a noted redwood photographer and writer who has published several books. His book “Coast Redwood – Tree of Dreams and Fortune” is a must have for any redwood enthusiast. It contains many great pictures of redwood trees as well as lots of information on the trees, plants, and animals that coexist with redwoods.

Jerry points out Montgomery Reserve may have been a lake at one time. A landslide could have backed up the creek for several centuries or thousands of years, allowing the shallow lake to form. Then the natural dam let go, the lake drained, and the rich soil was populated by redwoods which grew tall in the protected valley on the north side of a coast range mountain. As he mentions the redwoods needed to “stretch” to get up above the rim of the bowl and get more sunlight.

This picture is from the area at the start of the grove after hiking up the hill from the parking lot. You can see the evidence for a long ago earthen dam (I am standing on it) as well as the beauty of the grove. Montgomery Creek winds through the flat area with tall redwoods uniformly distributed throughout.

Start of lower flat in Montgomery Redwoods
Start of lower flat in Montgomery Redwoods

 

2      Fire Event in 2008

 

There was a large fire in this reserve in 2008 that burned the undercover (it has since fully recovered) and some of the hardwoods on the slopes above the flat (they didn’t make it). This fire was part of a group of wildfires that occurred in July that were very destructive to Mendocino County. Most of the redwoods came out ok as one of their specialties is fire survival given their thick bark. However a few of the hollow redwood trees sustained significant damage including one really big one that burned for days like a giant smokestack and then collapsed. As part of the collapse event one huge branch splintered into three sections as it crashed to earth. Each of the three sections entered the ground at about the same angle. These branch sections are still buried in the earth – three big widow makers. They are pictured below.

Congruent near simultaneous ground entry for broken sections of a single large redwood branch
Congruent near simultaneous ground entry for broken sections of a single large redwood branch

 

3      A Big Tree and a Tall Tree

 

The biggest and fourth tallest tree in the reserve is the Montgomery Giant, with a diameter of 17 feet and a height of 361 feet. Jerry and his buddies did some climbing in this reserve in the 1980’s. In 1981 Jerry climbed the Montgomery Giant and measured its height via tape drop at 357 feet. While at the top an even taller tree in the distance was noted as the tallest tree in the reserve. This tree was assigned the name Mendocino Redwood in the 1990’s and for a few years it was the tallest known tree (before the Stratosphere Giant was identified).

Here are two pics of the Montgomery Giant. The first is a mid to upper trunk view. Then the second is of Jerry and I having a discussion on how to get a fish line over the lowest branch in the tree.

Montgomery Giant mid and upper trunk view
Montgomery Giant mid and upper trunk view

 

Montgomery Giant - we are discussing the methods used to get a weighted fish line over the lowest branch of a tall redwood
Montgomery Giant – we are discussing the methods used to get a weighted fish line over the lowest branch of a tall redwood

4      Finishing Up the Hike

 

Jerry, like some other redwood enthusiasts, hikes with a tripod and camera. Here he is checking light while setting up for a photo.

 

Jerry Beranek setting up for a photo along the trail
Jerry Beranek setting up for a photo along the trail

 

Recently eight of so interpretive information signs have been put up along the trail. They are well done. Here is one of them.

One of a group of very well executed information signs recently added along the loop trail
One of a group of very well executed information signs recently added along the loop trail

 

Montgomery Redwoods Reserve is a great hike. This was my second hike there and both times I was lucky to hike with someone knowledgeable about the reserve. Jerry’s knowledge of and experiences in the redwood forests are impressive, interesting, and entertaining.