Second Visit to Hermosa Creek, CO (8) Robert Leverett
June 14, 2009


   Today Monica and I headed back to Hermosa Creek in the La Platas. I couldn't let too much time elapse before a second measurement. I intended to remeasure both the tall ponderosa and Doug fir from yesterday. But this time I took my TruPulse 360 and my Nikon 440 as well as my Nikon Forestry 550. I actually wanted to remeasure all the tall trees from yesterday and hopefully discover more. This time, the weather cooperated, so I was able to take the needed time at each tree.
    The first couple of ponderosas I saw that looked pretty old and fairly tall stimulated the measuring gene. So we stopped. They proved to be nice, but no cigar. The first was measured to 130.0 feet in height and a girth of 8.8 feet. The second tipped the scales at 126.0 feet tall and 8.3 feet in girth. I think these two trees are representative of lots of ponderosas in the area on the down hill side of the trail.  On the uphill side, the trees are predictably shorter, many topping out at between 100 and 115 feet. Below the trail and down the mountain side and in ravines  is where the booty is to be found and shortly after measuring the just mentioned trees, I spotted a Doug fir that looked very tall. Seeing the base was the challenge, but  I successfully measured it to 144.5 feet in height. I then realized it was the one I measured yesterday at 144.0 feet. Its girth, as determined yesterday from a scramble down the ridge, is a healthy 10.3 feet. For me, this was a satisfactory confirmation of yesterday's measurement with the 550.
     I next spotted a dead Doug fir that I thought deserved a measurement as part of the confirmation of what the area grows or can grow. My 550-based measurement puts the dead monarch's height at exactly 150 feet. I estimate its girth to be 11 feet if not a little more. It was a worthy competitor.
    Next I remeasured a spectacular old ponderosa that I had measured with the Forestry 550 yesterday. On this measurement, I got 144.5 feet as compared to 143.3 yesterday. The light was right for the TruPulse, so I'm going with that measurement. The girth of the pine is estimated at 10.5 feet.  
After admiring the old pine,  I spotted a new ponderosa pine that I had not measured yesterday. I was able to get a height of 151.5 feet! Yes, another in the 150 club. I estimate the girth at 9 feet. 
     Soon after, Monica and I reached the height champ and I set to work while she kept the dog and answered questions from passersby. I first put an orange flagging ribbon at 6.2 feet above mid-slope. I then used the combination of the TruPulse 360, the Forestry 550, and the Prostaff 440 to arrive at the distances to the top and the ribbon. I settled on a compromise distance to the crown point since that is the measure most subject to error. I used the angles from the TruPulse. Putting it all together, I had to settle for 160.4 feet as the height of the pine. That is down from 162, but still a heck of a tall ponderosa. Before Monica and I leave Durango, I'll measure the pine at least one more time. 
      The Doug fir suffered similar shrinkage from yesterday's 550 measurement. I now place its height at right on 160 feet. I'll remeasure it also before leaving Durango. However, after the Doug fir, my measuring day was not yet complete. I turned my attention to lesser pines and confirmed one at 153.0 feet and 9.7 feet in circumference. Impressive. It is an old tree. After that one, there were no other ponderosas in the vicinity that caught my eye, but another Doug fir did and the tree beside it even more, which turned out to be a Colorado blue spruce - and a tall one. How tall? Well, I finally settled on 152.5 feet! Its girth is 8.3 feet. It doesn't replace BVP's champ, but it is nice to know that there are other contenders in the San Juans. 
      On the way back, I spotted another tall ponderosa and after some time getting its base, I settled on 141.0 feet and estimate its girth to be 8.2 feet. I have not come anywhere near exhausting the possibilities, but getting good measurements requires a lot of work. 
S o far Hermosa Creek has yielded the following measurements. Five girths are estimates at this point, as the following table shows.

Species            Height          Girth

Ponderosa         160.4           9.2
Doug fir               160.0        10.8
Ponderosa          153.0          9.7
Ponderosa          152.5          9.1
Blue spruce        152.5          8.3
Ponderosa          151.5          9.0 (est)
Doug fir                150.0       11.0 (dead)
Ponderosa           149.0         9.5  (est)
Ponderosa           144.5       10.3
Ponderosa           143.0         8.5  (est)
Ponderosa           141.0         8.2  (est)

     Oh yes, I discovered that I left my GPS at home. No coordinates unless I can find someone to accompany me on my next trip to the location.

     The following image is of the tall ponderosa. It is in the center of the photo.

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