Hermosa Creek Blue Spruce Finds - 2015

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Matt Markworth
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Hermosa Creek Blue Spruce Finds - 2015

Post by Matt Markworth » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:17 pm

All,

We covered a lot of new territory this year and the list of superlative blue spruces at Hermosa Creek continues to grow.

Last year and previous years had a heavy focus on areas reachable with an out and back day hike, so this year's strategy of setting up a base camp in the vicinity of Dutch Creek proved especially helpful. It was great to add more 160's to the list and also a good opportunity to remeasure some of the important finds from last year. There is only one re-measurement in the following list, resulting in the deletion of the 158.8’ blue spruce from last year’s list. There are still some areas within Hermosa Creek that I'd like to explore and that hold opportunity for superlative blue spruces.

Please reply with any additions/corrections and I'll update the spreadsheet. I also plan on consolidating the various yearly lists into one big list to be able to more easily see the big picture. One thing to note on the spreadsheet, I think that the relatively high number of westerly aspects has more to do with the areas measured, as opposed to the ideal slope for the species. My feeling is that an easterly aspect would have an advantage over a westerly one. As far as northerly vs. southerly, the blue spruces at Hermosa Creek definitely prefer northerly.

You may need to click on these images to make them big enough to read:
bp1.JPG
bp2.JPG
Hermosa Creek Blue Spruce Finds - 2015.xlsx
(13.66 KiB) Downloaded 129 times
My first day at Hermosa this year was 6/21. I got settled in on that first day and also remeasured the Protect Hermosa Tree. I camped that night awaiting new exploration the next morning. I backpacked in on 6/22 starting at the Hermosa Creek Trailhead and measured some trees along the way. Above the trail approaching the Stony Creek drainage there are some nice blue spruces where water springs up out of the ground. The 11'11" x 156' tree grows near an open pool of water and there is a lot of surface water around it. This would hold true for a number of the superlative blue spruce finds.
11'11'' x 156' blue spruce
11'11'' x 156' blue spruce
Continuing on, I traveled up Stony Creek to about 8,450' elevation, but no additional superlative blue spruces were found. I set up my tent at a small, established dispersed camping site north of Dutch Creek (better to use an established site to avoid disturbing vegetation) and walked along Hermosa Creek to the north. A 152' blue spruce grows on the western side there, but Hermosa Creek was too high/fast to crossover to get a girth.

After a great night of rest, I woke up on 6/23 and the effect of an Hermosa Creek morning on the senses was simply staggering. Beautiful. I hiked up to South Fork on this day and explored a little bit up there. There's a 11' x ~125' blue spruce near the trail south of Little Elk that is worthy of mention.
11' x ~125' blue spruce
11' x ~125' blue spruce
South of Little Elk Creek there is small unnamed gulch that provides a great water source for the 9'3" x 170.1' tree. Here is my post with photos: http://www.ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=70&t=7116

On 6/25, Will, Larry, and I checked out Swampy Creek above and below the trail. I had been to Swampy last year, but wasn't able to spend a great deal of time there and it was in serious need of measurement. Swampy opens up into a meadow at around 7600' and maintains a gradual decline for about another 200' vertical feet. Earning it's name, the waters of Swampy spread out in numerous directions and provide ample water for the blue spruces. Due to thick vegetation, the 163.8' blue spruce measurement required us to use the base of another tree as a reference point. I went high up on the slope to get a shot to the top and to the reference tree, and then Will shot the reference tree from the base of the 163.8' tree. I held some vegetation back to help with the line of sight.
Larry and the 9'2" x 155.1' blue spruce
Larry and the 9'2" x 155.1' blue spruce
Me and the 11'11" x 150.5' blue spruce
Me and the 11'11" x 150.5' blue spruce
Top of 7'9" x 163.8' blue spruce
Top of 7'9" x 163.8' blue spruce
On 6/27, the workshop group went up the Hermosa Creek Trail, and Will, Larry, Daniel and I continued northbound on the trail. Larry and Daniel were on mountain bike, and Will and I were backpacking. It was especially nice that Daniel was there for a re-measurement of the Dutch Creek Giant. Larry and Daniel would head back to the trailhead, as Will and I got set up for a 3-night backpacking stay. That next day we would head up Dutch Creek up to about 8,950'. Some trees look to be in prime locations to put on girth over the years, but they haven't reached superlative status yet. We did find a nice tree on Bondurant Creek at 8,230' elevation measuring 7'5" x 157.5'.
7'5" x 157.5' blue spruce
7'5" x 157.5' blue spruce
The next day we headed up to Little Elk Creek and on the way back we dropped down to Hermosa Creek. I stayed closer to the creek, while Will spotted some nice blue spruces growing in a flat area near the edge of the slope. The 11' x 156' tree and the 11'6" X 160' tree are benefiting from the same general water source benefiting the 170'1' tree higher up the slope.
Top of 10'2" x 158.7' blue spruce
Top of 10'2" x 158.7' blue spruce
11'6" x 160' blue spruce
11'6" x 160' blue spruce
On my last two days at Hermosa, I used two routes (a log, and utilizing a rope) to cross Hermosa Creek and checked out Buck Creek and the unnamed creek opposite Stony Gulch. I crossed a log to get over Hermosa Creek north of Buck Creek and traveled up and around private property. Buck Creek is the most scenic and wild place that I've seen at Hermosa, but superlatives weren't found. The lower elevation and easier access for logging probably play a role in the lack of superlatives. I did measure one last 160 footer on the creek opposite Stony.
8'5" x 160' blue spruce
8'5" x 160' blue spruce
Although we didn't quite find the statistical outliers like we did last year, we nailed down some of the re-measurements and put together a lot more data on what this species can achieve. The next time I'm at Hermosa, my first priority will actually be measuring a huge blue spruce that is no longer standing. I would estimate girth at about 14'. While standing at the base, I took a slope distance laser shot to a piece of the trunk I could see in the distance and got 133', and I'm not sure how much trunk will be on the other side of that point. I plan on piecing it together by matching up segments of bark with the hope of getting a reasonable estimate of trunk length. I'll do tape wraps as well for an estimate of volume.

Matt

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Lucas
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Re: Hermosa Creek Blue Spruce Finds - 2015

Post by Lucas » Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:18 am

"In the wild, Picea pungens grows to about 23 m (75 ft), but when planted in parks and gardens it seldom exceeds 15 m (49 ft) tall by 5 m (16 ft) wide."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_spruce

Apparently, Wiki can't be trusted.

An impressive spruce. Is it well separated genetically from other spruces or an eco-variant.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Matt Markworth
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Re: Hermosa Creek Blue Spruce Finds - 2015

Post by Matt Markworth » Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:18 pm

Lucas wrote:"In the wild, Picea pungens grows to about 23 m (75 ft), but when planted in parks and gardens it seldom exceeds 15 m (49 ft) tall by 5 m (16 ft) wide."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_spruce

Apparently, Wiki can't be trusted.

An impressive spruce. Is it well separated genetically from other spruces or an eco-variant.
Lucas,

I agree. Most resources can't be trusted when it comes to maximum tree heights. I have four guide books that include Picea pungens and here are the heights. The first two are actually pretty close, especially considering they've been published for awhile.

Sibley: "Medium to large tree often 80-100' tall (max.148')"

Peterson: "Height 80-100 (150) ft."

Golden Field: "A medium-sized tree , 80 to 100 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet in diameter. Blue spruce occurs on mountain slopes in Rocky Mountain regions, generally near streams. This tree is also widely used as an ornamental." - I got this book for free, or else I wouldn't own it. It does have some nice illustrations though.

Weber/Wittmann Colorado Flora, Western Slope: Smartly doesn't make estimates of tree height!

Matt

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dbhguru
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Re: Hermosa Creek Blue Spruce Finds - 2015

Post by dbhguru » Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:04 pm

Matt,

We stand humbled by the accomplishments of the team. An article needs to be written for the Bulletin.

Lucas,

A lot of people who submit to Wikipedia don't do their homework, and where tree numbers are involved, the chances are that misinformation will be the rule rather than the exception. In time, I think American Forests will have an authoritative database on tree maximums, built primarily by the Native Tree Society. That's the direction we're going. American Forests has standing, and that is important when there are competing sources on tree statistics.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Hermosa Creek Blue Spruce Finds - 2015

Post by Larry Tucei » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:38 am

Matt- I really enjoyed hiking with you and Will. Riding the Bike in was awesome and I soon found out that in can be extreme. Lower Swampy was exceptional and loaded with tall Spruce. The hike up Swampy produced some nice Ponderosa and a few tall Spruces. I have another post to put up showing some of those areas with trees that we did there. That was some tough hiking up and down but worth the difficulty. We need to get a Drone or Lidar of Hermosa Creek to save time. It is so vast of an area to cover with the limited time we have spent their. Larry

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