Big Creek/Mouse Creek and vicinity *NEW RECORDS*

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Will Blozan
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Big Creek/Mouse Creek and vicinity *NEW RECORDS*

Post by Will Blozan » Sun Oct 31, 2010 4:37 pm

ENTS,

I spent this glorious day in Big Creek to check on some trees I had not seen for many years. Specifically I targeted the 150+ northern red oak on Mouse Creek (Smokies height record) and a spot Josh Kelly sent to me with a high LiDAR hit. On the way up the Big Creek Trail I stopped to measure a chestnut oak that has always taunted me as being tall but I was never there with leaves off since I spotted it. It did not disappoint- 38.3" DBH X 143.1' tall. I believe this surpasses the Cataloochee height record that was last measured at 141.9'.
Mouse Creek Falls
Mouse Creek Falls
Big Creek was WAY to big to safely cross so I had to pass the mouth of Mouse Creek which terminates in a nice waterfall. I went up trail to a bridge and bushwhacked back down to the creek. The red oak was easy to find as it was still in full leaf as opposed to most of the other trees. I explored the crown and found a high point nested in the multiple options. In March 2005 I measured it to 151.4 feet. Today I got it to 153.3'. The girth has slightly increased from 41.7" to 42.2".
153.3 foot red oak
153.3 foot red oak
I also remeasured a tuliptree that was last lasered to over 174'. I could only get 172.6' today. Not bad though. Surrounding tulips were over 160' and I headed up stream to see what I could find. Nothing to report, just nice regrowth from the clearing done just before the park was established. Well, actually one tree caught my eye that I think Jess Riddle measured in 2005. It was an American elm 32.3" DBH X 129.8'. This, I am pretty sure, is a new park height record.

I headed back down Mouse Creek and hopped the nasty ridge to the east to get into an unnamed cove with the high LiDAR hit. The going was rough but I did get to traverse the upper flanks before dropping down. Much of the cove was a shrub-entangled tallus field with hardly any trees. Some nice, large yellowwood were in full, heavy fruit though- don't get to see them much. I quickly tired of stumbling through this crap and went down towards the GPS LiDAR waypoint.

I could see the tall trees but a chasm loomed between me and them; the topo map did not reflect the landslide that gutted the cove and sent it into Big Creek years ago. Up and around I went again. I honed in on the waypoint but was distracted by a slender but tallish mountain silverbell (Halesia monticola). Two solid laser shots put this tree at a new eastern record height of 138.6!!! If you don't know the species you probably won't appreciate it but let me tell you- it was the find of the day!
138.6' Silverbell
138.6' Silverbell
I found the tree with the LiDAR hit. Nestled among lesser 160+ footers was a nice tuliptree in full autumn color- 36.5" DBH X 171.3'. LiDAR had it at 174'- not too bad considering how steep the slope was under the tree. This site is yet another in Big Creek that supports tuliptrees over 170'.
171.3 foot tuliptree
171.3 foot tuliptree
I made my way back to Big Creek and not far from the bridge I spotted a yellow birch 18.6" X 105.3'- probably in the top five recorded heights for the species.

Will Blozan

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James Parton
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Re: Big Creek/Mouse Creek and vicinity *NEW RECORDS*

Post by James Parton » Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:49 pm

Will,

I remember Big Creek. I would have liked to have went today but having my daughter made it not an option for me. It still amazes me on how productive the Smokies are on big trees. It outstrips all other sites in the area and largely dominates the east with few rivals.

Tallus fields? Is that those slippery slatelike rocks that lie under the leaf litter on the mountainsides? I remember that. It makes being on your knees easy!

You measured a 171.3 tulip today. I went on a much easier stroll through a forest with my daughter off the parkway today. My tallest tulip today was only 138.2 feet. And yes, that Mountain Silverbell is awesome!

What does Yellowood look like? I have never heard of it.

I never knew Northern Red Oak could pass 150. Cool!
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
Bardic Mentor
New Order of Druids

http://www.druidcircle.org/nod/index.ph ... Itemid=145

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Will Blozan
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Re: Big Creek/Mouse Creek and vicinity *NEW RECORDS*

Post by Will Blozan » Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:24 pm

James,

One of the main reasons I went to the red oak today is that next week I will have the opportunity to remeasure one in SC that Jess Riddle and Mike Davie got to 154.4'. Yellowwood has smooth bark like a beech but it is very dark gray- almost black. They are not common (loving rich tallus slopes in the s. Apps), often lean heavily and if you were to come across one you'd probably wonder what the heck it was. They have alternate, compound leaves that themselves have alternate leaflets. Only one has been found over 100' at Meeman-Shelby State Park, TN. Big Creek has them to the low 90's.

Will

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James Parton
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Re: Big Creek/Mouse Creek and vicinity *NEW RECORDS*

Post by James Parton » Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:23 pm

Will,

How many oak species top 150?
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
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New Order of Druids

http://www.druidcircle.org/nod/index.ph ... Itemid=145

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tsharp
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Re: Big Creek/Mouse Creek and vicinity *NEW RECORDS*

Post by tsharp » Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:27 pm

Will: Incredible Silverbell.WOW! I had to smile when you said the bark on the Yellowwood looks like Beech. I came across a planted on in WV that was labeled European Beech.
TS

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dbhguru
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Re: Big Creek/Mouse Creek and vicinity *NEW RECORDS*

Post by dbhguru » Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:59 pm

Will,

You're bringing the Smokies back up on the radar screen. The number of tulips above 170 continues to grow. The silver bells are off the charts. The Smokies continue to rule. Now to the red oak. HOLY MOLEY as Dale would say. How many 150 oaks do we have? Don't we also have one in Tennessee somewhere?

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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Will Blozan
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Re: Big Creek/Mouse Creek and vicinity *NEW RECORDS*

Post by Will Blozan » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:00 pm

James,

I have no idea how many oaks break 150. Three in the East that I know of; cherrybark 160', shumard 157' and n. red 154. White oak is close and scarlet, chestnut, swamp chestnut, and overcup are known to the 140's. I know valley oak (CA) is over 150' and several tropical species as well. Some of the European oaks may be close.

Will

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Will Blozan
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Re: Big Creek/Mouse Creek and vicinity *NEW RECORDS*

Post by Will Blozan » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:03 pm

Oh yes, willow oaks in the 140's as well. Bob, I don't know of a 150' oak in TN. Of course there is that 200' swamp chestnut oak lurking out there... ;)

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Jess Riddle
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Re: Big Creek/Mouse Creek and vicinity *NEW RECORDS*

Post by Jess Riddle » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:17 pm

Will,

I'll second that silverbell as the find of the day. I didn't see that one coming. I was very impressed by the ones over 130' on Baxter Creek.

I hope the Whitewater River red oak is still standing. I think there was a polypore sticking out of the base last time I was there. The 153' at Tamassee is due for remeasurement also.

Jess

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James Parton
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Re: Big Creek/Mouse Creek and vicinity *NEW RECORDS*

Post by James Parton » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:55 pm

Hey, Jess.

What is a polypore? My guess is a type of fungi?
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
Bardic Mentor
New Order of Druids

http://www.druidcircle.org/nod/index.ph ... Itemid=145

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