Old Growth in East Fork Willow Creek.
I have wanted to hike around this forest for years. You can see this area from the highway and can access it pretty easily from the East Fork Camp ground when its open. I happened to have some extra time last month and hiked up into the forest a little west of the camp ground from the 299.
This is one of the largest pacific yew trees I have ever seen. I find it impressive that it is living right off the highway turnout.
Vertical structure from below: old growth Douglas-fir and tanoak overstory with dense younger trees and brush in the canopy gaps.
Vertical structure from above: looking across the canyon (Willow Creek main stem) you can really see how the older Douglas-fir rise above the other trees creating the diversity of height common in an old growth forest.
Many of the trees have goose-pen cavities. Where are the bats?
Where amber is born.
Whoa… This accidental picture is sort of funny, because it reminds me of how steep some of the topography was in this area as well as how slippery the snow covered brush was. I was slipping and sliding all over out there!
Nothing like a big old tanoak!
I didnt have the best light, but at least you can get the sence of how tall the trees are.
This forest has it all. Douglas-fir, tanoak, madrone, golden chinquapin, and more. The understory has the same species where light allows, as well as the occasional pacific yew. Sword fern and huckleberry make up the bulk of the ground cover. Eventually I saw a huge tree that appeared to be the biggest in the area.
After tromping around for a bit, one tree caught my eye.
This tree is the grandmother tree for the East Fork.
A tree like this has incredible wildlife potential. The large limbs create nesting platforms and when they break off they can develop into cavities in the tree itself for cavity nesters like owls.
Fire scars show this trees age.
And the weigh-in… just over 6 feet in diameter.
I only has a few hours, and Id like to get in here someday and explore a little more thoroughly. The campground looks like a nice escape from a hot summer and even in this dry summer we are gearing up for, I bet the East Fork will keep water.
Chinquapin crowns are really cool!
This forest is (was) heavily influenced by fire in its development.
A snowy Bear Creek.
We had a nice dusting of snow last month and since then barely a drop of precipitation. As drought concerns heighten, time to start thinking of conservation of water. Or participating in a rain dance. Or both…
A winter woodland.
I have promised myself for years to check out a few of the peaks that are right on Route 1 when I had the time. I finally did last December and stopped to check out Blake Mountain.
The view from ‘lower’ Blake. This spot is on a broad ridge with dense forest and does not provide for much visibility.
Blake Mountain, the lower bench mark; 5,852 ft above sea level.
A old foundation near “lower” Blake.
Next I went over to Blake Spring Campground or at least what is left of it. An old jeep road runs down to the spring, but there is not much of a camp there. There is little flat ground, and it appears that camping on the ridge would be more comfortable. Perhaps the road used to go further past the spring to a more suitable spot, but if there is a road it is completely over grown past the spring.
The view from the so-called Blake Spring Camp.
Just to the north of the camp is the high spot on Blake Mountain. A jeep trail traverses the ridge and the bench mark was easy to find.
Blake Mountain bench mark; 5,905 ft above sea level.
Looking north east into Trinity County from Blake Mountain.
From there you can check out the “South Fork” bench mark, a little further to the north. I would like to know how this spot got its name, as the ‘real’ South Fork Mountain peak is many miles to the south. Regardless, this is a neat spot, and perhaps the most interesting of the three bench marks on Blake.
Unlike the other two spots, the topogrophy really drops away from the top allowing for some spectacular views of the Middle Mad River.
South Fork from the ridge.
South Fork bench mark.
Fire ring on the base of the rock. This could really be anything, but I wonder if it is a native feature?
Another view of South Fork from the bottom.
South Fork Mountain Schist!
Rock and lichen. Lichen is one of the more interesting organisms in the forest. Where does it come from? How many species are on this rock alone?
So 2013 has come and gone. Happy New Year! I put up my 2013 gallery page and had a real hard time finding my favorite picture of the year. Looking back, I think my hike up to Blue Rock was the coolest thing I did, with the Mad River steelhead dive coming in close second. Here is the view from Blue Rock:
Be sure to look though the 2013 page now added to the top of the blog.