cove madness in Big Creek, NC
13, 2003 13:41 PDT
What an awesome day today in the Smokies! Sunny, 70 degrees and
a carpet of
wildflowers everywhere. I explored two unnnamed coves today in
the Big Creek
District, NC. The coves lie between Baxter Creek and Big Branch,
rather small and unimposing. However, they adequately bridge the
gap between Baxter Creek-with the tallest known forest in the
East and Big
Branch- with the tallest known white ash and American sycamore.
puzzled last night looking at my map why I had not explored
I ascended the first cove, which was second-growth forest, by
stream because the sides where terribly steep and composed of
and slick herbs. The steep slope did not keep the tall trees out
first tuliptree I measured was 160.67'. Similar was the next one
I also bagged two more 140'+ basswoods at 140.54 and 143.19',
and a sycamore
that looked much taller than it's 136' measurement indicated. In
all, I was
able to measure 10 trees for a Rucker Index of 129.76'. If I had
the n. red oaks, black locusts or chestnut oaks that reached
~125' the index
would be around 133.5'. Three cucumbertrees made it over 130'
tallest one standing at 136.06'. Bitternut hickory reached at
Black birch reached 113.3'.
I crossed the ridge and went west into the next draw towards
The first tree I saw as I descended the ridge was a gorgeous
10'8" cbh white
basswood. I took four shots on this tree and came up with an
148.9' (new record!) with an range of 147.92'-150.93' The other
were 148.02' and 148.83'. With it's well-formed and
still-growing top this
tree should enter the 150' club in a few years. It turns out
this tree is
not far at all from the lower section of the Baxter Creek Trail
and is at an
apparent cut line; below this tree is second-growth tuliptree
forest. And did they dominate! This young cove already has at
tuliptrees over 160'! One was 161.84' and the other 162.72'.
sycamore reach over 140' with the tallest 153.31'. A skinny
sycamore only 5'
in girth reached 146.27' and was holding it's crown position
tuliptrees. This tree should be watched as it couldn't be more
than 60 years
old and may become a "super-tree" of exceptional
height. Several other
tulips reached the upper 150's. A young basswood in this cove
reached over 131'. I only measured a few trees because I wanted
to get down
to Big Creek. I intended to scout a bench along the river above
the mouth of
Baxter Creek in preparation for the ENTS measuring trip the
BOB, JOHN, GARY, JESS--YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!
Here is the "tease". The bench along Big Creek holds
some curious forest
patches. One area is skinny tulips, the other old-growth sugar
hemlock and beech, and still other areas look like an elevated
grade. Regardless, some fine trees grow there: among them at
sycamores over 150', a possible NC State record bitternut
immense cucumbertree, and an almost guaranteed new black birch
record. Tuliptrees may hit 160'. I didn't spend time in there
heights other than shooting straight up from below to get ideas.
the sycamores for Bob...
I know what your saying (whining?) Bob- "IT'S JUST NOT
Gee, with super second-growth like this I wonder what the