I explored along Indian Camp Branch which flows south out of NC
SC within the Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area. I stayed within the
which eventually flows into the East Fork of the Chattooga River
Walhalla State Fish Hatchery. I surveyed this drainage in 1995
as part of an
old-growth mapping project.
11' pine and rhodo-laurel thicket
The terrain is quite flat and gentle for much of the drainage,
hemlock/heath "bog" forest thickly lining the banks.
rhododendron and mountain laurel line the stream, with large
American holly, witch-hazel and mountain holly present. Most of
have been cut over, but mature second-growth forests of white
pine and pitch
pine ~130 years old are striking. Relic stands of sub-xeric oak
exceed 300 years in age, with blackgum, tuliptree, and eastern
exceeding 400 years. Relic old-growth trees and patches of older
provide some diversity from the straight stems of the newer
growth. In fact,
a nearly unbroken riparian corridor of "old-growth"
lines the stream banks,
with ancient white pine and hemlock dominating. Many are quite
white pine without a doubt exceeds 300 years in age. Another
American holly, also exceeds 300 years in age per a core sample
I took in
1995. If this tree is still alive it is 343 years old at 4.5
feet. From what
I recall, it had a carving still visible in the bark that had
"1865" in it. A trail cut chestnut oak had no less
than 350 rings about 20'
from the base. However, aside from white pine and some
"shrub" species, no
trees were huge even though they are ancient. Soils are poor and
the high rainfall may in fact leach any nutrients out before
Ancient sourwood bark
Tall pitch pine
I was primarily hunting for a huge white pine Michael Davie and
I found in
1995 or 1996. We struggled with a tape drag and clinometer
cross-triangulation in the thick rhododendron, and I have wanted
to laser it since it is close to a state champion in points. We
height at 154' after much rhodo-wrestling, a number quite
such an ancient tree. Well, I found the tree still alive and
ANCIENT remnant of what must have been a very impressive pine
ago. The top was extremely gnarly and weather-beaten, but a
solid laser shot
determined its height to be 151.5'. Supported by a trunk
11'8" in girth, it
is a most imposing tree as it has virtually no taper and a very
of massive limbs and extreme gnarl factor. However, a younger
slightly out-points this tree.
11'8 inch X 151.5' ancient pine
I did confirm one white pine in the 12' X 150' class, a tree I
last spring that has since grown. This young, vigorous tree is
now 12'1" in
girth and 150.4' tall. I found many white pines over 10' in
girth and 140'+.
This is a grove to watch as it has dense stocking and wilderness
As the hemlocks die off the pines ought to have more resources
"bulk-up". The hemlock woolly adelgid is so thick in
there that trees up to
three inches in diameter are entirely covered EVEN ON THE BARK.
12' 1 inch X 150' white pine
I measured a few other trees, none of which were exceptional
except for the
mountain laurel, which at 75 points (32" X 36' X 27') is a
potential new SC
State Record. I don't know how it ranks in height but I measured
it looked tall.
Ancient mountain laurel
Unfortunately, one of the huge pitch pines I
measure had recently fallen. It turns out I passed by many new
champion witch-hazels but I did not have my state list so I was
not aware of
it. One of the pitch pines I reported on last year has grown
X 130' X 28'), and is likely a SC State Co-Champion at 240
points. None of
the big white pines out-point the tall one I reported on in
the Chattooga River.
Huge fallen pitch pine
One of the coolest trees I saw was a "serpentine
tsuga" (as in snake, not
rock). It was a hemlock that had repeatedly fallen and leaned
over in a
semi-circular manner, but still had a top growing upwards. About
lying on the ground and the tree was about 40' tall. I'll send a
the ENTS website- way cool!
Serpentine tsuga 2
Hemlock Varnish Shelf Fungus (Ganoderma tsugae)
Some other trees:
6'2" X 131.9'
9'10" X 152.4'
10'5" X 162.2'
11'4" X 147.2'
11'0" X 137.7'
11'5" X 152.4'
10'2" X 157.5'
9'2" X 148.2'
Will Blozan 5/29/2005