Monday, September 24, 2012

Big Pines in the Sierra Nevada

 (Ponderosa Pine above: cbh 22 feet, 8 in. This is the largest Ponderosa Pine I have found to date.)

I spent the weekend in the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe. My plan was to explore a few sections of forest along highway 50. While driving out here last time, the trees along the highway looked exceptional. The challenge was to pick which sections to explore.
 My original plan was to drive near the town of Myers, and check out the forest there. However, I got off track once I found a hiking trail called the Christmas Valley Trail. As is usually the case, a short hike turned into a long one. I wasn't where I wanted to be, but I couldn't resist checking out what was around the next corner, and the next, and the next.
 Ponderosa or Jeffrey Pine cbh: 19 feet 1 in. (above)

I didn't feel at ease because I didn't have a map with me. However, I had my GPS. There is something really comforting knowing where you are at any given moment. Almost too comforting. Once I was able to pinpoint where I was in relation to the roads nearby, my discomfort ceased. Eventually, I reached an intersection that seemed somewhat familiar. I had a short conversation with a couple that came down the trail and the man suggested that I walk to Round Lake. That also sounded familiar. Once I resumed hiking, I immediately recognized where I was. The Tahoe Rim Trail! I never thought I'd see this particular section of forest again in my lifetime, but here I was. Something strange about being in the wilderness and recognizing old places. After hiking to round lake, I turned around and retraced my steps back to my car. Round trip about 8 miles. I drove into South Lake Tahoe and ate dinner next to the lake. That night, I slept in my car near one of the trail heads. After a pretty good sleep, I resumed the tree hunt. I found where I originally wanted to search, but decided to save it for another trip, maybe next month before the snow sets in.
Ponderosa Pine cbh: 19 feet, 6 in. Near the town of Myers. (above)

Traffic was heavy once again leaving Tahoe. I'd imagine a road widening project may be in the future of highway 50. There were so many sections of forest I wanted to explore on my way home but it was really difficult due to the amount of traffic. I had to settle on a couple spots, because it was near impossible to turn around with all the cars on the road.
 Sugar Pine cbh: 19 feet, 10 in. (above)

I found a spot with some real quality trees growing. Some very large Sugar, Ponderosa, and junipers. The sugar pines are a really nice tree. I'm just starting to recognize them by appearance, but they have enormous pine cones lying underneath.
My favorite tree of the day was this huge Ponderosa Pine. It had a cbh of 20 feet, 5 in (above). Not as large as the Ponderosa from the day before, but a very photogenic tree. Overall, another great trip. I'm looking forward to heading back next month when the fall colors make more of an appearance, and also want to see the spawning salmon at Tayler Creek again...


  1. Pines never disappoint! I love picking up fresh pine needles for tea.

  2. CJ, are you aware of a particular pine species that is better than another for tea?

  3. Yes actually. Pinion pine is the best from my experience. Its quite mellow and more palatable compared to some other spruce and fir trees.

    Ponderosa is mildly toxic, but only to the pregnant.
    Spruces make great astringents I have found.