a great pine in Oregon
05, 2003 16:52 PDT
Here's an article from the Salem, Oregon newspaper. One thing I
have to say
is that I'm glad she (the journalist) got my words down fairly
Soon as I hung up the phone I became worried if she didn't quite
something I had spouted out. I wanted to make sure it came out
that's how I got in touch with her in the first place;
correcting her on
some errors she got from sources that were too old on a previous
it would be nice if I gave her good info on her next story since
if I knew anything about a tree she was writing about.
I found it kind of funny that when I told her of what I used to
height, she couldn't quite comprehend the whole clinometer
thing. I even
spelled it out for her 3 times. I think I recall Dale, Will or
saying when they told a journalist the same thing, they later
misspelling clinometer. But here she just wrote "other
works just fine. Anyway, she did a good job. I'm happy with it.
Column: Admiring a great pine in Oregon
July 5, 2003
Some say Americans are obsessed with superlatives - the best,
the smallest, the oldest, etc.
When I came upon Oregon's biggest ponderosa pine in La Pine
however, I knew immediately that - obsessive or not - it was a
that I followed the signs that read: "Big tree."
A paved quarter-mile trail from a small parking area rolled
When I first saw the tree, I stopped dead in my Chacos and said
to no one,
The tree stood regal and dignified despite its broken top.
It used to be 191 feet tall before its crown fell, but it still
impressive 162 feet high.
Its circumference is 28.9 feet and diameter is 9 feet. It is
about 500 years
Its bark looks like oversized slabs of patio slate. Great burls
bulge out of
its trunk like caramel popcorn for a giant.
Through the ages, Native Americans likely gathered here as well
while the tree survived fire and logging saws.
This is the stuff that gets people hooked on big-tree hunting.
"It's the fact that they are still around," said Rory
Nichols, 19, a
big-tree enthusiast from Silverton and student at Chemeketa
College. "They are whacking away at a lot of them and yet
it's still there.
I find that pretty amazing. You kind of wonder: 'How come they
Nichols had that thought when he saw Oregon's biggest tree, a
off Highway 101 near Seaside.
"It is a national co-champion although it is the third
largest in the U.S.,"
Nichols said. (Signs mark the way to the tree from the highway,
Nichols said his interest in big trees began when his mother
bought a book
from the Department of Forestry containing the 1994 Oregon
registry of big
He said he uses a laser range finder and other equipment to
"You put them together and do some trigonometry with a
calculator," he said.
He learned the most about big trees by communicating online with
the Eastern Native Tree Society.
The American Forest National Registry uses a points system to
trees are the biggest.
Sometimes, however, the system can "get people
squawking," Nichols said,
because a tree can score more points than another that has more
which can be difficult to measure.
When it comes to the truth about big trees, botanists and
such as Nichols would swear on what they consider to be the big
Robert Van Pelt's "Forest Giants of the Pacific
"This is a very outstanding book that came out in 2001 and
nothing has ever
been published like it," Nichols said.
The book has the most current information, he said. For
to Van Pelt, the Brummit Fir, in the coastal forest between
Coquille, is no longer the Douglas Fir national champ.
It still is the tallest Douglas fir in Oregon, however, and a
The reigning national champ is Tichipawa in the Olympic
Back at the big tree in La Pine, I walked just beyond it, where
Deschutes River flows by grassy banks. It remains a favored
fishing spot, as
it presumably has been for centuries.
I made my way to the Donald G. McGregor Memorial Viewpoint,
where the river
formed a lazy horseshoe glinting in the sun with the
Volcano looming in the distance.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, there was not a car or visitor was
in sight as
I listened to the pines squeak in the breeze.
Call me obsessive. It was the best.
Cathy Carroll is a freelance journalist who covers outdoors and
for the Statesman Journal.