Adirondack Outing Oct. 19, 2016

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Adirondack Outing Oct. 19, 2016

Post by tomhoward » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:08 am


On Wed. Oct. 19, 2016, Elijah Whitcomb and I went to Paul Smith’s College in the northern Adirondacks. We left North Syracuse after 7 AM, took I-81 north to Watertown, US 11 northeast through farm country to Potsdam, NY 11B east to Nicholville (in this area saw 2 corky Rock Elms in field among Amish farms), NY 458 into the Adirondack Park (through Santa Clara Experimental Forest – all 2nd growth) to NY 30, NY 30 south to Paul Smith’s College. It was a beautiful cool day, more sun than clouds with temperatures from 60 to 64 F. Most of the forest we traveled through is lovely 2nd growth with lots of White Pine (towering above all other trees), Balsam Fir, Red Spruce, Aspen, Yellow Birch, some Jack Pine, Hemlock, White Cedar, Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Beech, Paper Birch, Black Cherry. In the frequent swampy and boggy areas were plenty of White Pine (tallest tree), Balsam Fir, Black Spruce, Tamarack (starting to turn gold), some White Cedar. Maples were mostly past peak, but Aspens (Quaking and Bigtooth) were at peak, with mostly yellow and gold, some orange.

At the Paul Smith’s College VIC (Visitor Interpretive Center, a large outdoor area with many trails), Elijah and I met Rob Leverett and Betty Austin, and then Rob’s father Bob Leverett and Bob’s wife Monica. We walked along a beautiful easy nature trail through a lovely 2nd growth forest dominated by fragrant Balsam Fir, White Pine (the trees we came to see – lovely, fragrant, the largest and tallest trees, but not nearly as tall as expected), Yellow Birch (oldest trees, ancient, gnarly, with lots of character – especially one by bridge over stream – Bob Leverett said these picturesque Yellow Birches could easily be about 250 years old – the only old trees in this forest). Associate trees include Red Spruce (should be there, but I did not note it during the visit), Paper Birch, Bigtooth Aspen (some big), Hemlock (some big), Beech, Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Striped Maple, Black Cherry (some big).

The big White Pines should be 100-150 years old; one of the biggest is 35.8” dbh (9.4 ft. cbh) – Bob Leverett measured this tree to 108 ft. All these White Pines looked taller than they turned out to be.

Bob Leverett and I measured a typical Balsam Fir to 81 ft.

One of the biggest White Pines (10 ft., 7” cbh, 40.4” dbh) was measured by Bob Leverett to 113.5 ft. This is the tallest tree we would measure at this site. The tallest White Pines at this site could be about 120 ft. I measured a flat-topped White Pine to about 110 ft. above eye level.

The area where the big White Pines grow is at the edge of a marsh, and strong winds limit their height. It was still absolutely glorious to be among them, and the wind through the pines made a wonderful sound.

I measured a Bigtooth Aspen to 64.4 ft.

Rob Leverett talked enthusiastically about bigger and older trees near Cherry Patch Pond to the east (beyond Lake Placid), and he wanted to show them to us, so we went there next.

Bob Leverett said he measured a Balsam Poplar to 92 ft.+ by the motel in Keene Valley, NY where he and Monica were staying. He asked me if I had much information about Balsam Poplar heights. I said I only knew of one Balsam Poplar in British Columbia at 91 ft. – Bob was pleasantly surprised that the tree he measured could be the tallest known of that species.

Bob Leverett told us of a Quaking Aspen he measured near Stockbridge, MA to 108 ft. – this could be the Eastern height record; he measured a taller Quaking Aspen in Colorado.

We followed Rob Leverett to Cherry Patch Pond through beautiful country, with White Pines everywhere along the roads, on NY 86 through Saranac Lake, with White Pines lining lakeshores, with awesome views of the High Peaks (possibly including NY’s highest point, Mt. Marcy, at 5344 ft.), and to northeast other high mountains, including Whiteface, which reached into the clouds.

We took a back road, which bypassed the center of Lake Placid, a road which took us past the Olympic Training Center and by the towering Olympic Ski Jumps. There were many big Aspens among the White Pines. We drove through a forest with plenty of White Spruce, the most of that species I’ve ever seen in NY.

We stopped on NY 86 at the small parking lot at the beginning of the Cherry Patch Pond Trail, in a beautiful setting of high hills topped by White Pines over 120 ft. tall, and a marsh backed by a high ridge that seems to be covered with old growth White Pine-Hardwood forest.

The trail through the Cherry Patch Pond forest was rugged, narrow, rocky, with steep ups and downs. The trail goes through a beautiful old growth forest dominated by Red Spruce, Balsam Fir, Yellow Birch, and eventually near the end of our walk, White Pine. The air was fresh and fragrant with Balsam Fir. Associate trees include White Cedar, Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Striped Maple, Beech, Black Cherry. Groundcover includes Bunchberry Dogwood and Clubmosses.

Rob Leverett said he counted 250 rings on many stumps and cross-sections in this stand.

This forest has many young trees, and in many places the old trees are widely scattered, so there may have been some logging. Downed timber is fairly plentiful, and pit and mound topography is abundant, so wind is a major disturbance. These trees seem to be older than they look. The Red Spruces are exceptionally large.

Elijah measured a 6 ft. 9” cbh (25.8” dbh) Red Spruce to over 96 ft. tall.

Elijah measured a large White Cedar to 74 ft.

We came to a huge Red Spruce, the biggest Red Spruce I’ve ever seen. Bob Leverett thinks this rugged old Red Spruce could be 350 years old. This Red Spruce is 7 ft. 5” cbh (28.3” dbh), and 101 ft. 4” tall, as measured by Elijah.

We came to the edge of the big White Pines, but we were too exhausted, and a lot of time had gone by, so we decided to turn back. Before we turned back, I got a height above eye level of 132.8 ft. on one of the tall-looking White Pines; since the base of this tree is very likely above eye level, this White Pine may not be as tall as that.

A small Red Spruce cross-section had what looked like about 200 tight rings. Rob Leverett has counted 140 rings on a Balsam Fir cross-section in this area, an exceptional age for Balsam Fir.

We returned to our cars, said good-by at the end of this splendid get-together, and Elijah and I continued northeast on NY 86 into the spectacular Wilmington Notch, with old growth White Pines on cliff faces, awesome views of towering Whiteface Mountain (4865 ft.), Little Whiteface Mountain (3660 ft., with a chairlift to the top), fantastic fall colors on steep gorge slopes, old Red Pines atop cliffs, White Cedars on cliff sides, Hemlocks in the gorge.

Elijah and I turned around at Wilmington, took NY 86 back by Cherry Patch Pond, and into the lovely village of Lake Placid, with its Olympic venues, big fancy hotels, lovely Mirror Lake, big White Pines. We continued on NY 86 west to Saranac Lake, and then NY 3 west to Tupper Lake, through 2nd growth forests in swampy areas with rugged White Pines towering over Balsam Firs, Black Spruces, Tamaracks, White Cedars, Hemlocks. We took NY 3 west across the lower, swampy western Adirondacks, to the Watertown area. There were many White Pines, Sugar Maples with gold, orange, and red leaves illuminated by the setting sun, golden-leafed Aspens, some big Black Cherries. On NY 3A we went by the area where Elijah measured a 93 ft. Jack Pine. We took I-81 back to North Syracuse. The outing took nearly 13 hours from after 7 AM to 8 PM.

Trees Measured by Bob Leverett, Elijah Whitcomb, and Tom Howard
Oct. 19, 2016:

Paul Smith’s College VIC Nature Trail:

White Pine
108 35.8” dbh
113.5 10’7” cbh
about 110

Balsam Fir

Bigtooth Aspen

Cherry Patch Pond:

White Pine
132.8 height above eye level

Red Spruce
96+ 9’6” cbh
101’4” 7’5” cbh

White Cedar

Tom Howard Oct. 20, 2016

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Adirondack Outing Oct. 19, 2016

Post by Erik Danielsen » Thu Nov 03, 2016 11:13 am

I was really rooting for these pines when they were mentioned at the workshop! The search for exceptional NY conifers continues. Does the Wilmington Notch seem like a promising spot for tall trees, or is it more to be appreciated for its beauty?

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