Month: November 2013

How Old are Those Trees?


The tight rings of this stump caught my eye. The two yellow pencils represent 100 years from the edge of the bark, and then another 78 rings to the red pencil. That is 278 years to where the heart wood column had rotted out. I took a few measurements to come up with a average of 18 rings per inch in the central part of the stump – and measured approximately 6 inches to the theoretical pith. That makes for a total age of 386. Wow!


In the 1950s-1960s large tracts of privately held land where harvested on South Fork Mountain. The evidence is still present, in the form of stumps (obviously), old porcelain signs like this one, and cull logs left on landings.


Fortunately, most of the USFS held stands in the upper elevations of South Fork Mountain have been left intact. Due to the short growing season in the sub-alpine areas (+4,000′ elevation), trees can take along time to mature. The true fir trees in this picture are well over 6 feet in diameter. Based on the age of the stumps on adjacent private lands, these trees are easily close to 400 years old. Food for thought next time you are on Route 1 and wondering about the old growth stands you are driving or hunting through.

More South Fork Mountain Diversity


There are not many places in Humboldt County with this type of forest. I typically find chinquapin mixed in tanoak/Doug-fir associations and almost always as a minor component of the overall composition. These stands on South Fork have clusters of old, gnarly groves mixed with true fir and sugar pine.


As small as the world can seem at times, you can still appreciate the vast expanse of forest in this part of CA. Most of the land in the picture is part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest which is a forest of about 1 million acres.


Here is a stitched panorama. Its a great view of the South Fork Trinity River. Hyampom would be off to the right eventually, 5 or so miles up river.

Want to learn more about the unique golden chinquapin? Chrysolepis chrysophylla



From Silvics of North America:
Incense-cedar (Libocedrus decurrens) is the only species from the small genus Libocedrus that is native to the United States. Increasingly, it is placed in a segregate genus Calocedrus. Incense-cedar grows with several conifer species on a variety of soils, generally on western slopes where summer conditions are dry. It is long-lived and grows slowly.

Points from the Past


So we have seen these historic sites and objects, some close to 100 years old. However people have existed in the same areas for much longer. These sites, while a little harder to find, have persisted for centuries – some for thousands of years. I think the oldest recorded site in California is over 10,000 years old! In the picture above we found two archaeological sites in this valley and believe that it is likely that there are probably more sites deeper down in the ground. Hundreds of years of erosion and soil development essentially cap sites. Here are two of the artifacts that were discovered close to the surface.

CIMG0245 CIMG0239



Continuing my historic theme, here is another cool find from a similar site a few miles away from the ‘china’ site. In the mid to late 1800s, there was widespread homesteading throughout Humboldt County. Many of these homesteads where set up by larger sheep/cattle operations, who helped people apply for their patents and then over time bought them out. This is how many of the large ranches acquired their large acreages. As result, there are many abandoned homesteads on ranches today that are nothing more than scattered debris of what ever was left behind.