Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Essex & Warren Counties, NY

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ElijahW
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Re: Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Essex & Warren Counties, NY

Post by ElijahW » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:39 pm

Thanks, Jared. The Putnam Pond section, along with Treadway Mt., is on the agenda, but I'm not sure when I'll get to it. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit; I haven't been to Putnam Pond myself. From my small sample, it seems that trees grow much better in the northern part of Pharaoh Lake. My intention is to survey every trail, as well as the promising areas in between, as time and weather allow. I welcome any help you can give.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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ElijahW
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Re: Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Essex & Warren Counties, NY

Post by ElijahW » Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:21 pm

NTS,

Sucker Brook Trail (Western half) 6/10/17

White Pine

145.9' x 12'1"
142.2' x 11'2"

Bigtooth Aspen

109.2' x 7'

Tamarack

108.3' x 5'10"
104.8'

Northern Red Oak

95.8' x 5'10"

Arborvitae

86.4'

English Oak

85.5' x 6'1"

Striped Maple

49.8' x 1'5"

This post covers only the western half of the Sucker Brook Trail, or about three miles east from the southern trailhead. It took probably two miles of walking to get into purely native forest; before that is a patchwork of Norway Spruce-White Pine plantations interspersed with native regrowth. After I spotted the first English Oak, Quercus robur, I seemed to see them everywhere along the trail. Nowadays, Sucker Brook is seldom-traveled, but the trail follows an abandoned roadway (I'm not sure of the abandonment date, but probably prior to 1940) next to which I saw one stone building foundation and several large stone piles. For some reason, people previously thought it good to plant a ton of English oak along the road. Sucker Brook is currently a designated horse trail, though I didn't see any evidence of it being used in that way. I did see plenty of bear sign (old scat piles and torn-up logs) and deer tracks. A small hawk, probably a Broadwing, was pretty vocal as I approached its perch both coming and going.

Turning to trees, the section of trail I walked on this outing cut across a gentle west-facing slope that is seemingly very fertile. I didn't get any reliable ring counts from downed logs, but I don't think anything I saw was older than 150 years. I only got two White pines to over 140', but there are probably several more, with potential for a 150-footer or two. Mature pines likely averaged close to 10' in circumference, and the trunks were thick for a good distance. To get back into such an impressive collection of pines was refreshing, especially after my last lackluster outing.

I debated whether to post this now or wait until I covered the entire Sucker Brook trail (about 7.5 miles), but I figured the fresher in my mind the trip was, the better, as I might not get back here for a few weeks. I'll close with a couple of photos; everyone have a great evening.
Eastern Newt
Eastern Newt
Indian cucumber
Indian cucumber
Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Essex & Warren Counties, NY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Thu Jun 22, 2017 1:14 pm

The two tall tamaracks really catch my eye here- while they don't quite approach your discovery in Newcomb, it seems as though the general impression I had that the species really rarely gets into the 105+ range, not dissimilar to old notions about black birch height, to take a notable example, may need some revision. Are you getting a sense of particular conditions in which tamarack seems most likely to reach and exceed the threshold of 100-105'? There's a fair bit of natural larch scattered around the allegheny plateau in SW NY that may be worth cross-referencing for similar conditions and looking for tall trees.

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ElijahW
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Re: Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Essex & Warren Counties, NY

Post by ElijahW » Thu Jun 22, 2017 2:43 pm

Erik,

The tamaracks have been a surprise for me, as well. Every one I've seen over 100' has been in a stand of young, fast-growing white pine. I think over their respective ranges, balsam fir and tamarack reach heights of 100' at a similar rate, though tamarack is generally both a taller and larger tree.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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ElijahW
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Re: Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Essex & Warren Counties, NY

Post by ElijahW » Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:22 pm

NTS,

Spectacle Pond Trail 1.7 miles (3.4 out & back) 7/8/17

White Pine

136.8' x 12'4"
130.4' x 12'9"
110.0' x 11'5"

I've been putting off this and the following section of the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness because Google Earth images suggested a severe lack of pines, a condition confirmed by Saturday's visit. Though my primary objective in this survey is locating large and old trees, I would not write off the Spectacle Pond trail for the average nature person. The climb to Spectacle Pond is uphill, but gradual, and runs along a pleasant, stone-filled stream the entire way. Additionally, the view north toward Pharaoh Mt. is the best I've seen so far.

The three White pines were the only living pines I saw prior to reaching Spectacle Pond, and the ones along the pond itself struggled to top 100' in height. I didn't measure any other species, partly because of their unimpressive respective sizes, partly because of the heavy downpour driving me out of the woods. A few of the older Hemlocks may top 100', and some Red Spruces may also come close to that mark. I think the oldest trees along this trail are in the 175 year old range, but most appear much younger - closer to 100 years old. A couple of images from my visit below:
Yellow Pond Lilies
Yellow Pond Lilies
Looking north across Spectacle Pond to Pharaoh Mt.
Looking north across Spectacle Pond to Pharaoh Mt.
Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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ElijahW
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Re: Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Essex & Warren Counties, NY

Post by ElijahW » Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:59 pm

NTS,

Gull Pond Trail 0.6 miles (1.2 out & back) 7/8/17

White Pine

142.3' x 7'8"

That's it - sort of. This tree and many others of similar dimensions grow in a plantation north of the Gull Pond trail along East Shore Rd. The area's history and plantation location suggest establishment between 1880 and 1910. As an aside, for those interested in a trip to the Schroon Lake region, East Shore Rd. boasts several stands of attractive 130-140' White pines on both public and private land.

The trail to Gull Pond is hardwood-dominated, a nice assortment of American Beech and Basswood, Sugar Maple and White Ash, with the occasional large Yellow Birch or Hemlock. The hardwoods seem to be of the same vintage as the pine plantation. One or two hemlocks seem particularly old, and may pre-date initial clearing of the land. Gull Pond seems a nice place to take a rest and contemplate [where are the big trees?]; a rock wall topped with Red Pine blocks the view of any higher landmarks to the east and makes the location seem much more isolated and wild than it is. All in all, this is a nice spot, and easy to get to.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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ElijahW
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Re: Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Essex & Warren Counties, NY

Post by ElijahW » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:00 pm

NTS,

Sucker Brook Trail: remaining eastern portion (~4 miles) 6/10/18

White Pine

144.8’ x 11.96’
118.4’ x 12.03’

White Ash

131.2’ x 8.01’
122.1’

Hemlock (fallen & cut)

~175 growth rings 15’ above base
~200 year old Eastern Hemlock
~200 year old Eastern Hemlock
The Sucker Brook Trail is, by far, the most productive portion of Pharaoh Lake I’ve surveyed so far. On this trip, I was zeroing in on White Pines in excess of 140’ and/or 12’ CBH, but many slightly smaller pines were overlooked. Sucker Brook may also be the least-traveled trail in the wilderness area.

The two White Ashes grow next to each other on a southeastern slope, at 1200’ of elevation. These trees don’t appear particularly old, likely dating from the 1890s or so. As far as I know, the 131’ Ash is the tallest hardwood yet measured in the Dacks.

I’m behind a little on this Pharaoh Lake thread, but I’ll continue updating it as I’m able. A couple additional trails have already been surveyed.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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ElijahW
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Re: Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Essex & Warren Counties, NY

Post by ElijahW » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:55 pm

NTS,

Desolate Brook: Eastern side only (No trail; approximately 10 miles round trip) 7/8/18

White Pine

154.0’ x 12.65’
150.0’ x 11.5’
148.8’ x 7.91’
147.5’ x 8.64’
144.3’
143.0’ x 8.65’
140.7’ x 7.87’
140.0’ x 12.48’
133.8’ x 6.22’

Some notable scenes from the outing:
The attachment 5061040A-F8AE-4FDA-B6AA-C64A1DC4716A.jpeg is no longer available
Desolate Brook Pines
Desolate Brook Pines
Desolate Brook
Desolate Brook
Great Blue Heron Rookery
Great Blue Heron Rookery
As noted above, this trip only covered the eastern side of Desolate Brook, the aptly named flow located at the center of the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness. A future survey will need to be done for the western portion.

The pines listed above were the only tree species of any size I found in this area, but they more than made up for the absence of canopy diversity. As far as I can tell, most pines along Desolate Brook are in the 150 year age range, with perhaps a few slightly older individuals.

As nice as the pines were to find, I had two separate bird encounters that were much more special. Along the southern stretch of Desolate Brook, not far from Sucker Brook, I was repeatedly swooped down upon by a small hawk. The hawk was either a Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned, and was probably defending its nest. I was never in danger, but the experience was hair-raising, nonetheless.

Farther north, in an old beaver pond, I came upon a large Heron rookery. I counted somewhere around 35 individual birds, all nested in drowned out white pine snags. I probably watched these birds for half an hour as one adult Heron after another glided in with fresh food for their brood. Fascinating stuff.

More to come,

Elijah
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"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Essex & Warren Counties, NY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:52 am

The dacks are really starting to fill in with 140-150' white pine sites. I imagine really any adirondack site sufficiently sheltered and below a certain elevation will happily grow 150' whites- the historical focus on just a handful of old-growth sites being an artifact of the timbering and fire history. Some of these sites might not have had any trees over 140 a few decades ago. That photo of emergent pines lining Desolate Brook is certainly evocative.

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dbhguru
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Re: Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Essex & Warren Counties, NY

Post by dbhguru » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:44 am

Erik,

You make a point that I've frequently made in the past. Trees continue growing for many decades. Duh! The 120-footers of yesteryear are the 150-footers of today. We see across the landscape a growing number of sites with 150-footers. The mature forest sites of 20 years ago have not been dormant. Their trees continue growing.

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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