Posted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:43 pm
by dbhguru

Those hemlocks definitely have a presence. Old growth hemlocks do and because of that people tend to over-estimate their sizes. I've witnessed that many times. The people from the Carolinas appear to have done so.

Before they died from the adelgid, the big hemlocks in the Smokies and other southern Appalachian ranges were simply colossal. A few single-trunk Smoky Mountain hemlocks reached between 17 and 18 feet in circumference. At least one measured a hair under 20 feet around. The Usis hemlock in the Smokies (climbed by Will Blozan) was 16.5 feet around and a mind-blowing 173 feet tall. Will and Jess climbed, modeled, and treated many over 160 feet tall in a joint Eastern Native Tree Society - National Park Service project quite a few years ago. One reason the larger southern Appalachian hemlocks were not always seen as large as they were is that they were commonly buried in rhododendron thickets. A thick understory makes judging tree size difficult.

For many years Will championed those great hemlocks and put lots of his own money into documenting and treating them. Alas, they are just memories now.