Cataloochee Valley_Pretty Hollow Creek.

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James Parton
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Cataloochee Valley_Pretty Hollow Creek.

Post by James Parton » Wed Apr 21, 2010 5:22 pm

ENTS,

Last Wednesday Will Blozan e-mailed Josh Kelly and I inviting us on an outing with him into the Pretty Hollow Gap in Cataloochee Valley on the upcoming Sunday. Josh had plans and could not go but I was up to the task.

The Pretty Hollow Gap Trail begins at a gate on the right just before reaching a bridge over Pretty Hollow Creek. It is located past the main campground and first elk fields but not as far in as the last elk fields and the Caldwell house. Anyway, the lower part of the trail is a road and we were able to drive in and park a little ways up and then we grabbed our gear and water and set off. The first thing Will noticed and brought to my attention was the tall Serviceberry trees. Serviceberry always reminds me of my dad. He has always been fond of these trees, especially when in spring bloom. Many old timers call them Sarvis-trees or " Sarvis " for short. I have heard them called Asarvis and Dad always calls them Asargus. Anyway, these are the tallest I have seen. Standing under the trees roughing them out with our lasers we got heights between 70 and 90 feet on the taller ones. That's awesome. Prior to this I had never seen one over 50 feet. The white blooms could be seen high up in their crowns. Will said the tallest he knew of was over 100 feet. Awesome! I will certainly let dad know of this! I also noticed a lone old-growth tuliptree on the left near the creek on the way up. For some reason they left this one. Will seen it but did not give it much of a passing glance. He had either measured it in the past or was after other game. Only he knows.

Hiking further up the trail into the second-growth forest we started seeing really tall Northern Red Oaks, Tuliptrees and Black Cherries. Will and I both had cramped necks from checking out so many trees with our lasers. One skinny tulip made 150 feet. We also measured a Northern Red to 139.2 feet. A Black Cherry made 143.3 feet. Will is awesome on finding the highest point in complex crowned trees quickly. My measurements compared to his always averaged a foot or two low. He usually ended up finding a slightly higher point than I. The above two height measurements are his. Hopefully I wrote them down correctly. If not, I am sure he will correct me.

Naturally in the usual Will Blozan style, we headed off-trail down into the cove and crossed the creek diving into thick rhodo more than once. Will does this so naturally while I fight and struggle my way through. We checked out two once nice hemlocks in the middle of very dense rhodo on the hillside. Both had died of HWA infestation and what a shame. Both are well over 12 feet in girth. This part of the forest is above the cut-line and is old-growth.

We also checked out a nice twin-trunked Basswood tree. Will has the measurements on it. In fact Will has most of the measurements from the day. Hopefully he'll post them soon.

To be honest with you folks, I often got distracted from the trees. It is springtime and many wildflowers were in bloom on the forest floor. Various trillium, wild violets and many others whose id I did not know. I would occaisionally ask Will. What's this? What's that? He usually had an answer. With ENTS you learn to see the forest as a whole. Not just the trees. Also the variety of leaf shapes on those small plants on the forest floor is amazing. What diversity! I took a few wildflower and shrub-layer plant pictures which I will enter in an upcoming post. Yes, there is more!

On the way back down the trail Will pointed out an old chestnut snag to me. It was surprisingly tall. Naturally I examined it closely. We also checked out a couple of small European Chestnuts near the trail. I think an old homestead once was located here. Will thought they may be a mother tree around somewhere since these looked young. But we never found it. More on Chestnut to come.

We also found some really nice Witch Hazel trees. Will was quite interested in those. One that looked really aged was one of the taller ones Will knew of. He said they are probably other big ones in the vicinity. I'll have to return and see.

Returning to the truck we loaded our stuff back in and headed back up the valley to an area that Will had treated before. To show me green hemlocks and some nice chestnut relics located there. We parked at a gate blocking a forest service road which is located at an intersection. Right of the gate is the winding dirt road out of the park and left goes to Cataloochee Creek and beyond. Into Tennessee. Of course the paved road goes down into the valley. Anyway, after a five minute walk we exit the forest service road to the left and enter the woods. Now how different this immediatly looks. The hemlocks are big! Not record height but still big. But they are GREEN! Let me tell ya folks, when you get used to seeing dead grey hemlocks seeing big live ones is an eye opener. This was my favorite part of the trip. Those trees brought tears to my eyes. Will and the NPS deserves praise for this. But if only the park service would have treated more trees. It's far to few and too late for many. I hope the NPS keeps this grove up as well as the nearby Winding Stair Conservation Area. Until a viable biological control is found, if ever, the trees depend on these treatments being kept up. every 3 to 5 years or so. They are as Will put it. They are on " life support ".

Also in the forest are remnants from another past catastrophe. Old American Chestnut remains are common here. Will showed me a standing chestnut snag with the bark still on. That is something not seen very ofen anymore. Mature bark. Most old trees and logs have lost their bark years ago. One wonders why this one still has it. Also another huge log is found. One approximately 4.5 feet in diameter. Few living American Chestnut live long enough to develop mature bark. More to Come!

In short, I thank Will for inviting me. Cataloochee is awesome and I await my next visit there.

http://msrmaps.com/image.aspx?T=2&S=11& ... Y=9871&W=3
Girth Measurements.jpg
Girth Measurements.jpg (39.86 KiB) Viewed 912 times
James
Attachments
Serviceberry.JPG
American Basswood.JPG
American Basswood.JPG (63.11 KiB) Viewed 912 times
14ft5inHemlock.JPG
Hemlock.JPG
Hemlock.JPG (83.81 KiB) Viewed 912 times
Live Hemlocks!.JPG
Live Hemlocks!.JPG (88 KiB) Viewed 912 times
Last edited by James Parton on Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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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dbhguru
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Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:34 pm

Re: Cataloochee Valley_Pretty Hollow Creek.

Post by dbhguru » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:23 pm

James,

Excellent write-up. I enjoyed it very much. I would very much encourage you to choose a forest site, measure the pizzazers out of it and write an essay for the next Bulletin. You are quite capable of putting together a very interesting article.

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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James Parton
Posts: 1576
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:47 pm

Re: Cataloochee Valley_Pretty Hollow Creek.

Post by James Parton » Wed Apr 21, 2010 8:55 pm

Bob,

That is quite a compilment from a literary genious like you. Thank you!

I'll have to choose a site. One not to far away, but special.

James.
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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