Chestnut Branch Trail, Big Creek, NC, GSMNP   Will Blozan
  May 16, 2004 10:21 PDT 

Hey folks,

I want to get some trip reports out as I know many of you are awaiting the
news. I have not been out much lately and have been super busy with work and
family. Fortunately, some of my best excursions lately have been work
related, namely the Joyce Kilmer and Kelsey Tract old-growth hemlock climbs
and last week a trip to Mt. LeConte in the Smokies to collect Fraser fir

2/8/04 Chestnut Branch Trail, Big Creek, NC, GSMNP
(Same crew as above)

This "topographically promising" cove had little to offer beyond a small
section of older, disturbed forests near the lower part of the trail. All
the flats that we saw and I saw on another trip were cut and full of exotic
plants and old home sites and debris. Nearby Leatherwood Branch (see below)
should be named "Washtub Basin" based on the dozen or so tubs I encountered.
The relic forests did contain by far the most impressive white oak forest I
have seen in the Smokies (topped only by Sweetbriar College's property in
Virginia). Numerous large trees over 120' were common and mixed with fine
white pine, northern red oak, tuliptree and hemlock. The understory was nice
and open and the oaks in such fine condition that each one was worth
shooting at least a vertical shot into for height. Virtually all the oaks
were above 120', and still growing well.

White pine
11'9" X 144.8' Largest I know of in Big Creek.
White oak
9'4" X 137.4'
13'9" X 127' Relic open-grown tree still growing up!
Northern red oak
10'1" X 131.9'
7'7" X 135.3'
Chestnut oak
13'1" X 81' Broken top
Mockernut hickory
7'11" X 119.5' GRSM height record? Jess or Mike?
Black birch
5'5" X 109'

That's all for now. The tree hunting season has basically closed in with the
spring canopy. I may try to do some volume climbs before it gets too hot and
buggy. I will be in northern Ohio the end of next week so I hope to at least
confirm the giant cottonwoods I saw near Detroit, Michigan while I am there.

I'm sure I will let you all know...eventually...;)

Will Blozan
President, Eastern Native Tree Society
ISA Certified Arborist