Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sandy Spring's Fantastic Trees

Osage Orange Tree

Osage Orange Fruits

The osage orange tree's top is actually to the right of the center of the photo as the tree is leaning. It looks like a second tree growing to the right. The height was 62.34 feet tall.

It's hard fro me to believe that this tree is Maryland's largest tulip poplar and 3rd largest tree in the state. It appears to be 2 separate trees fused at the base. Other than the fusion, it lacks the "wow" factor in my opinion.

Maryland's Champion white ash tree. Thought to be at least 300 years old. I measured the height to be 91.11 feet tall.

Champion White Ash tree (continued)

Sandy Springs Cemetery. This was the most stunning tulip poplar I have seen to date. Maryland's 22nd largest tree. I measured it's height to be 129.20 feet. It has a circumference at breast height of 22 feet, 6 inches! Due to the fact that this is a single stem tree, it left a most powerful impression.

Sandy Springs Cemetery Tulip Poplar
I took a hike this morning along the Underground Railroad Trail near Sandy Springs again today. Last time I was here was in the spring before the trees leafed out. I wanted to see the Maryland Champion white ash tree in particular, with leaves. I was happy to notice that my tree identifying skills have improved since the last time I was here.

Just like that, fall is in the air. Today felt like the first cool day since the beginning of summer, and this week temperatures will be in the 70's for the first time since late spring. Leaves are changing just a little bit. After a rain filled 3/4's of a summer, we have not had much rain around here in a while, so a lot of the leaves seem to be simply turning brown and starting to fall off.

The highlight of the day was seeing the Tulip Poplar that grows in the Sandy Springs cemetery. Tombstones again date back to the 1800's and perhaps farther. The adjacent meeting house was built in 1817 by Quakers and the first meeting on the property was held as far back as 1753! It was just by chance that I happened to visit it. I had planned to turn around and begin hiking back to my car when I decided to investigate a little further down the dirt road on the property there. Suddenly the tree appeared with an overwhelming presence. Definitely a "Wow!!" moment. I was surprised to see that it is only the 22nd largest tree in Maryland. It's definitely the largest tulip poplar I have seen to date. Getting a 20 foot or higher cbh tape wrap here in Maryland is just as exciting as getting a 60 foot tape wrap on a redwood tree. It doesn't happen very often! I wonder if the tree was just beginning to grow when the Quakers had their first meeting in 1753?

Cedar/ White Oak: Louden County, VA

 Cedar Height: 85.76 ft. (St. Paul's Cemetery Louden County, VA)

Stately Cedar at St. Paul's Cemetery: Louden County, VA

White Oak: 74.78 feet tall

Is this a swamp white oak?
 I drove out to Louden County, VA yesterday to go to a party at an old friend's house. The drive took me right near Harpers Ferry into the Appalachian Mountains. From my friend's house, you can see the ridge where the Appalachian Trail passes north and south.

Along the way, I wanted to measure a couple of trees I've had my eye on. One was a beautiful cedar growing in the cemetery at St Paul's Community Church along Harpers Ferry Road. The cemetery has tombstones dating back to the 1800's. I would guess the tree is also pretty old, one of the taller cedars I have seen so far.

Also along the way, was a big ol' white oak growing on somebody's farm. The leaves looked different from what I am used to seeing. I wonder if it's a swamp white oak?

Largest Tree in Maryland Struck by Lightning 1915

I was looking through an old photo album that belonged to my great aunt the other night. She passed away several years ago at the age of 98.  In the album was this interesting photo. The caption reads:

               The Largest Tree in the State of Maryland Struck by Lightning Summer 1915

Camping Along the Potomac: Great Falls

Hiking up the C&O Canal

Potomac River

My camp set up did little to keep out the bugs...

Great Falls

Last weekend, I met my friend Pete along the C&O Canal for a night of a camping along the Potomac River. Pete was on his last night of a 15 day bike tour of the Canal and parts of Pennsylvania. He also biked down the California coast a few years ago and I met him for a night of camping in Gualala, California when I used to live out there.

Originally, we were going to camp at a place called lock 22. It was a really nice spot, but all the campsites were taken by the time we arrived. Instead of sharing a site with a bunch of other people, we hiked down the towpath a mile or so and stealth camped in the woods near the river. I brought a little tape recorder and a cassette tape of Jimi Hendrix. It was fun to remember old times, drink some whiskey, listen to Jimi, eat dinner, and stare out over the Potomac River. It was a hot and buggy night however, and I did not sleep well. Mosquitoes found themselves into my bug netting and snacked on my hands and face most of the night. The heat made it difficult to get into the sleeping bag. By morning, I felt pretty exhausted. Such is camping at this age.

In the morning, Pete and I stopped by Great Falls. After that, Pete rode off to Georgetown to finish his bike tour, and I went home to take a nap...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Large Beech Tree/ Montgomery C. Meigs: Washington Aqueduct

Moss and Rocks

Large Beech: Circumference at Breast Height: 9 feet 4 inches
Height: minimum 103.02 feet

Washington Aqueduct
I went for a hike near the C&O Canal yesterday after work. It's still hot as hell around here for the most part, but the forest is showing signs of the inevitable fall and winter. Some leaves are just starting to show a bit of fall color.

While hiking along the path, I crossed a small bridge, and down below was a wall built with the stones of the past. The stone work looks amazing, and inscribed on the wall was a name I have not heard of before. The inscription reads: Washington Aqueduct/Capt. M. Meigs/ Chief Engineer 1857.

After a little research it appears Capt. Montgomery Meigs was quite an interesting man in American history. Here's a Washington post article about some of Meig's life and accomplishments. Experiencing a bit of history on hikes is always a bonus. I find water flow and transport fascinating, whether naturally or human engineered. The fact that the aqueduct is still in use today is a testament to Meig's vision and design. Throughout the forest, there appears to be sites where people once frequented, but have been deserted for one reason or another. The woods now have reclaimed these spots.

Also during the hike, I measured my first beech tree. It's a rather large tree located on the trail. I could not see the top of the tree through the forest so I recorded a minimum height of 103.02 feet. There are quite a few of these fairly large beech trees scattered around the forest here...

Albino Redwoods May Hold Key to Understanding Forest Health

Zane Moore has been studying and researching albino redwoods the last few years. He spoke to KQED yesterday about his latest discoveries...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Eastern Red Cedar and Tulip Poplar

Eastern Red Cedar: 68.21 ft.
Circumference at breast height: 7 feet, 10 inches.

Eastern Red Cedar #2: Height 63.47 feet
Circumference at breast height: 9 feet, 8 inches

Tulip Poplar: Height 89.42 feet
Circumference at breast height: 17 feet, 1 inch

I took a short hike yesterday and measured a few trees in the area that I've had my eye on. I'm starting to enjoy urban tree hunting more and more these days, I guess I don't really have much of a choice. It's still exciting to see a tree from a distance for a while, and then to finally walk up to it and experience the "Wow" factor. A big ol' tulip poplar had that effect yesterday. The tree grows in the back of a church parking lot. A quick glimpse can be seen while driving down the road, but to see it up close, it's clear that it's a special tree. It has a huge base, and wild thick limbs. A lot of these big trees in the area have unusual characteristics, the result of human appreciation or fascination. This tree had a door hinge nailed into it for some reason, as well as an old, frayed rope hanging from one of the limbs. I'm left to wonder how long the tree has been here, and how the area has changed in its lifetime.

I also stopped by another cemetery to measure a couple of nice looking eastern red cedar trees. cemeteries seem to be nice places to find big trees. The gravestones went as far back as the late 1800's. One wonders how old the cedars are, they appear larger than most I've seen so far. These are the first cedars I have measured...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia

Large Ash Tree: 95.52 feet tall

Large Ash Tree: 12ft, 7 inch cbh

One of my favorite trees in Harper's Ferry: 86.2 ft. tall Locust Tree

Tubing down the Potomac. The Shenandoah River merges with the Potomac just to the right of this photo.

I drove out to Harper's Ferry West Virginia yesterday for some much needed mountain time. I wanted to measure a couple of trees I've had my eye on from previous visits to the area in the spring. The small town was bustling with tourists, and I saw what appeared to be a couple of Southbound AT thru hikers passing through. The last time I was in the area was in the spring before the leaves came out, so it was nice to see the mountains leafed out. The highlight of the day was measuring my favorite tree in town, a locust tree growing next to John Brown's fort, the building John Brown and a few of his followers barricaded themselves during the Harper's Ferry arsenal raid in 1859...