Laurel Branch Leviathan climb   Will Blozan
  Dec 18, 2006 06:01 PST 

This Thursday the Tsuga Search team will climb and model the "Laurel Branch
Leviathan", a HUGE eastern hemlock Jess Riddle found around 2 years ago. It
is over 18 feet in girth and 153' tall, and has enough points to qualify as
a new National Champion (385). The climb will be attended by several NPS
staff and a reporter for the Knoxville News Sentinel. The story will focus
on the Tsuga Search Project and the finds and results Jess and I have
discovered. Another reason for the exposure and interest is the very real
possibility that this tree will take the crown as the largest eastern
hemlock in the east. 
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Laurel Branch Leviathan - photo by Will Blozan
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Laurel Branch Leviathan - photo by Will Blozan

A reticle modeling of the tree a few weeks ago suggests
its volume may be close to 1600 cubic feet (it is still over 12 feet in
girth at 85' up.). The current record holder is the "Cheoah Hemlock" in
Highlands, NC at 1564 cubic feet. At this time the largest climbed and
modeled hemlock in the Smokies is the "Caldwell Colossus" weighing in at
1385 cubic feet.

We climbed two huge trees last week that should exceed 1300 cubic feet. I
will post the details when the numbers are finalized. One of them involved
frame mapping a huge section of a fork. We have also visited and modeled a
gorgeous hemlock found by the NPS that will both exceed 1300 cubic feet and
160' tall- not a common combination! Only the "Yonaguska Hemlock" has
achieved this status (1367 ft3 X 168.9')

Lots of climbs coming up.

Will Blozan

President, Eastern Native Tree Society
President, Appalachian Arborists, Inc.

Laurel Branch Leviathan climb - Finally   Will Blozan
  Mar 05, 2007 15:21 PST 

[As an aside Will told me that the climb had been originally scheduled for December, but was postponed three times due to inclement weather before it was successfully climbed in February]

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Vista of the Cumberland Plateau to the northwest from atop the leviathan

"Towering record for park" on the KnoxNews Web site:,1406,KNS_392_5395138,00.html

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 Stitch of Base of Tree - Feb 2007
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 Stitch of full tree and crown - Feb 2007

If you followed the link shown above you know by now that the Tsuga
Search Project has now documented a new eastern hemlock volume record- the
Laurel Branch Leviathan. Pending further base mapping to refine the
measurements of this tree and the Cheoah Hemlock (1564 ft3) the volume will
stand at 1583 cubic feet. We have now documented three hemlocks over 1500
cubic feet and three exceeding 170' tall. My congratulations to Jess Riddle
on finding the Laurel Branch Leviathan!

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 Opening in base of trunk. That is Kristine Johnson crawling out, Supervisory Forester for GRSM.
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 Will Blozan inside trunk

I was interviewed last week for an article for an Asheville, NC newspaper,
and interviewed today for a special story to go into a commemorative
publication celebrating Great Smoky Mountains National Park's 70th
anniversary. Then I got home and was informed that another Asheville
newspaper wants to do a COVER story on the TSUGA SEARCH PROJECT!!!

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Initial Ascent of Tree
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 Will and Jason measuring lower trunk (photo by Jess Riddle )
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 Jason about 30 feet up

BTW, I hear the Knoxville News Sentinel story was FRONT PAGE!

Tomorrow Jess Riddle, Jason Childs and I will head into Deep Creek for three
days to attempt to climb two hemlocks. One has been measured over 168' tall
and the other should easily exceed 1300 cubic feet in volume.


Will Blozan
President, Eastern Native Tree Society
President, Appalachian Arborists, Inc.

RE: More ENTS in the news...   Robert Leverett
  Mar 06, 2007 04:29 PST 


   A big congratulations to you and Jess. Tsuga Search and the ENTS
mission are reaching an ever wider audience thanks to the efforts of you
all, the fabulous website that Ed created and maintains, the special
events that we hold, and our great members. Our membership now stands at
159. We just need to hear from more members.