19, 2002 17:34 PDT
Mike Davie and I explored the upper reaches of Den Branch in
Cataloochee, NC GSMNP. Although most of the "good"
sites for big trees were cut, we did find a few trees of note.
The surprise of the day was a huge (for down here) shagbark
hickory that stood a hair over 125' tall on a massive trunk
9'1" in girth. The discovery of this tree doubles the known
old-growth specimens in the Cataloochee Valley. I believe this
girth is a GRSM record.
The second growth areas supported mainly tuliptree, n. red oak,
basswood, silverbell and black cherry with upper canopy heights
135-147'. Many large n. red oaks covered the upper steep slopes
(11-15' cbh) and some areas had white oaks Dr. Stahle would go
nuts over. Ages certainly exceed 300 years.
Old growth coves were typical of Cataloochee. Many, many old
tuliptrees up to 15' in girth and 157.7 feet tall. Hemlocks,
currently uninfested with adelgid, commonly reached 140' with 3
trees found over 150'. The tallest was 156.2 feet and 10'8"
in girth. White pine reach up to 162.7' tall and 12'3" in
girth (not the same tree).
Not bad, considering the "best" was gone and three
species over 155'.