Cook Forest Surprise   Dale Luthringer
  Dec 29, 2006 23:04 PST 

Looks like I'm going to have to eat my words again concerning tall pines
at Cook Forest, at least one more time. I wrapped up our white pine
tally today in the section of woods between Mohawk and Deer Park Trails
and RT36. Found one more doozy of a white pine. Couldn't believe I
hadn't thoroughly measured it before, but it is not in my previous
tally. The last time I measured trees close to this section was back in
May/July 2003. I know I came up on this particular pine in the past,
but I vaguely remember possibly telling you that I didn't get a good
height on it because I was running out of daylight. I think I also
remember vowing to go back and re-measure. Well, needless to say I
promptly forgot about.

When I came up to the pine and shot straight up from underneath, I knew
I had something special when the laser registered 50 yards straight up.
I promptly worked my way up the slope a bit, and got a similar
measurement to the same branch. Then proceeded much farther up the
slope to view the whole crown and registered an incredible 162.1ft!
Yes, that's another 160 footer! Looks like I found the last needle in
the haystack. Also found two more hemlocks and one more red oak hat
made it into the 12x100 class.

This section of woods is quite incredible. I think it is now my
favorite part of the park. Yes, the Forest Cathedral is nice, but these
steep ancient hemlock dominated slopes with their boulder strewn and CWD
moss covered benches are quite picturesque. It's like you enter a whole
different world when you get a glimpse of all this at once with the
gently flowing Clarion River as your backdrop. This will be an ideal
place for Will to do his climb come spring. it's just that everyone who
goes to see, will have to be part billy goat. The "small" amount of
physical exertion it takes to get into this place is well worth the

Also, did a brief ring count on a hemlock that was cut off Deer Park
Trail. Counted 203 rings at 32.4"DBH ~20ft fm base. Many hemlocks here
in this size class.

This last 160ft class pine now puts Cook Forest's white pine tally at:

Height Class      # Trees

140                   146
150                   77
160                   26
170                   3
180                   1

A pine in the nearby section of woods where the Seneca Hemlock grows
went to 167.9ft three years ago. I'm going to have to get back in there
and re-measure next chance I get. It is about time I re-measure some of
our taller 160ft class pines to see if they've broken the 170ft mark
yet. It took us six years to catalog all these pines by height,
circumference, and coordinates if they exceeded 140ft high. I think
it's time for a short breather before I go back out and re-measure the
more significant ones again.

The days stats follows:

Species            CBH     Height   Comments

Chestnut oak     8.9        93.1+    ridge top, 3rd largest known girth
in park, ancient tree 230+, bark furrows 5 fingers deep & bald on
opposite side!
Chestnut oak     8.7        102.1+ ridge top

E. hemlock        11.4      100.9    ridge top
E. hemlock        9.6        108.3
E. hemlock        10.7      108.4
E. hemlock        N/A       120
E. hemlock        12.4      120       flat on hilltop
E. hemlock        11.7      121.4
E. hemlock        10.2      123.9
E. hemlock        12.1      125.5
E. hemlock        11.2      127.3
E. hemlock        9.2        127.5
E. hemlock        11.1      129.2
E. hemlock        9.3        132.2

E. white pine     N/A       135.5
E. white pine     8.2        136.9    was 134.9 on 5/1/03
E. white pine     10.3      154.9    was 153 on 7/26/03
E. white pine     9.9        157.8    was 156.3 on 5/1/03
E. white pine     9.1        162.1    # 26, whoHOO!

N. red oak         12.9      108.1+

It is interesting to note that the three pines I re-measured today
averaged 0.6ft of new growth/year. If this were to hold as a pattern
across the board for white pines in this area, that would project my old
167.9ft pine in 2003 to ~169.7ft high three years later.

I think I'm going to start scouring the old growth in the vicinity of
Fire Tower Road next. There's a number of hemlock that'll break 12x100
there. I assume a few more red oaks will make it to that class here
too. I'm hoping to find a new sleeper old/fat tree of odd species in
here such as white oak, red maple, chestnut oak, or black gum. Heights
on the flat in the Fire Tower Road area are rarely significant, but the
trees are some of the oldest found in the park. Many ancient hemlocks
are here as well as a good number of these ancient species: white oak,
N. red oak, chestnut oak, red maple, black gum, black birch. I had an
old chestnut oak core to ~230 rings about 3-4 years ago in this site as
well as red maple to ~225. We also had a white oak to ~330 rings to ~4"
hollow center about ~10ft up from its base that was recently taken down
within the campground. That white oak cross section is now in the
visitor center.

There's only one more small section of woods I need to comb now to
double check for significant white pine & hemlock. It's the section of
woods between the Hemlock Trail uphill to the entrance to Ridge Camp.
I'm hoping to find another 140ft class hemlock here. Should be at least
a couple that'll break 130.