Tag Archives: harper flat

Redwood Thunder

1      Redwood Thunder

Redwood thunder is an uncommon but not rare event. It occurs when a large redwood tree falls to the forest floor, sometimes striking and taking other redwoods, firs, spruce, oaks, and maples with it. A cubic foot of redwood weighs 50 pounds, so if a moderately large 20,000 cubic foot redwood topples that is a million pounds, or 500 tons of wood crashing to the earth.

For redwood thunder to occur usually soaked soil and wind are required, though if the tree fractures on itself soaked soil is not an ingredient.  Sometimes before redwood thunder occurs the tree will lean against an adjacent tree, with the trunks and branches rubbing with the wind and making screeching sounds like giant stringed instruments.

All redwood trees eventually topple, or at least break off down to a low point on the trunk.  If a given old growth redwood has a one in a thousand chance of falling in any given year than that means, based on acres of old growth redwoods, the average annual tree fall count in the large redwood parks is about 300 trees, per park.

If there are multiple trees involved in a tree fall or if the tree falls across a creek, the tree fall is noticeable in Google Earth.  If you hike the same trails over several years you will for sure see trees that have recently fallen.  Their upper trunks are huge and their logs run sometimes more than a football field along the forest floor.

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2      Examples of Tree Falls

 

Here are several examples of tree falls I ran across in 2016.  Included are a picture I took of the tree fall accompanied by before and after Google Earth views of the tree fall areas (using Google Earth historical imagery).

In Humboldt redwoods a neighbor of the big Dyerville Giant log fell in the late spring 2016.  Its trunk shattered and splintered into sections where it struck the Dyerville Giant log.

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

 

Founders Grove - tree to fall marked with X. (Image from Google Earth)
Founders Grove – tree to fall marked with X. (Image from Google Earth)

 

Founders Grove - space left by fallen tree marked by X. (image from Google Earth)
Founders Grove – space left by fallen tree marked by X. (Image from Google Earth)

 

Another recent tree fall in Humboldt was in the area where a seasonal foot bridge is put in to link the Rockefeller Redwood area to the Giant Tree area on either side of Bull Creek in the upper Bull Creek Flats.  The new big log is used a lot to cross the creek, though it would be a pretty tough eight foot or so fall from the log to the rocky creek bottom if your foot or the bark slipped.

Log across Bull Creek in Giant Tree area
Log across Bull Creek in Giant Tree area

 

Bull Creek Giant Tree area - tree to fall marked with X. (Image from Google Earth)
Bull Creek Giant Tree area – tree to fall marked with X. (Image from Google Earth)

 

Bull Creek Giant Tree area, empty area where fallen tree was standing marked with X (Image from Google Earth)
Bull Creek Giant Tree area, empty area where fallen tree was standing marked with X (Image from Google Earth)

 

A third fall in Humboldt occurred in Harper Flat.  The tall north side of a twin trunk redwood fell in the last couple years.

Harper Flat fallen tree, north side of pair (still from I Phone video)
Harper Flat fallen tree, north side of pair (still from I Phone video)

 

Harper Flat - tree to fall marked with X (Image from Google Earth)
Harper Flat – tree to fall marked with X (Image from Google Earth)

 

Harper Flat - area left by fallen tree marked by X (Image from Google Earth)
Harper Flat – area left by fallen tree marked by X (Image from Google Earth)

 

The final example is in an area of tall hillside redwoods on the east side of Redwood Creek a little north of McArthur creek near the seasonal foot bridge.  Here the tree fall took out a number of redwoods and the whole group of fallen trees is slowly sliding down toward Redwood Creek.

Redwood Creek tree fall area, trees are slowly sliding downhill.
Redwood Creek tree fall area, trees are slowly sliding downhill.

 

Redwood Creek hillside above north seasonal foot bridge, trees to fall marked with X (Image from Google Earth)
Redwood Creek east hillside above north seasonal foot bridge, trees to fall marked with X (Image from Google Earth)

 

Redwood Creek east hillside above north seasonal foot bridge, area where trees stood marked with X (Image from Google Earth)
Redwood Creek east hillside above north seasonal foot bridge, area where trees stood marked with X (Image from Google Earth)

3      What Can Be Learned From Fallen Redwoods

 

A recently fallen redwood is a great opportunity for whole tree research once the soil in the fall area has stabilized.   The root system and affixed soils can be studied without any digging, this is the big primary benefit.  But also core samples can be extracted without having to climb and core living trees.  The canopy structure can be measured and reviewed without climbing and an unlimited amount of destructive sampling can be done.

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.