Page 1 of 1

Yellow Gap Trail, North Mills River

Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:39 am
by James Parton

During the evening hours yesterday I hiked up the Yellow Gap Trail for a little solitude. The trail is an old Forest Service road accessed just above the North Mills River Campground on Yellow Gap Road. I pulled the car up to a closed gate on the right to begin my hike. Upon starting out I noticed how young the forest was here. Counting the whorls ( layers of limbs ) on White Pine I would guess the forests age at around 30 years or so. Also all the trees are small diameter and few, if any reach 100 feet tall. The North and South Mills River, Yellow Gap Road and Pink Beds areas were frequented by my family in my younger years. I can remember logging occurring here in places in my youth. I can remember Dad gathering firewood along Yellow Gap in my early teens. Sadly, The National Forest Service is planning to log the North Mills River watershed again. Many have concerns for the river itself due to it being a trout fishery and of course for the forest itself. It could also affect many of the popular trails in the area. While I am not totally against logging, I just do not have a lot of faith that the USFS will use wise selective/sustainable forestry practices. Years ago it was more the clearcut and highgrading types. The Forest is also " Green Tag Certified ". I can only hope that means something good when it comes to how they will manage and log the forest. I have my doubts. ... gister.asp ... 8557527792

As I hiked onwards and upwards onto a ridge that lies between the Yellow Gap Road and the North Mills River itself I noticed the trees becoming larger and taller indicating this area had not been logged as recently as the forest lower down on the trail. Also in one place along the trail I found Devil's WalkingStick just past fruiting. I thought of Josh Kelly's reply on a berry laden plant in Green River Game Lands I photographed last week. I noticed the stem on this one. Yep, quite thorny. Same leaves as the Green River one. Josh was dead-on-the-money!

Anyway, going along the summit of the ridge I spied a " Green Tag Forest " sign. I read it and took a picture thinking I would look that up when I got home. Standing on the ridgetop I am between the Yellow Gap valley on one side and The North Mills River on the other. I am well above the river and I am quite some distance from it. I did a report on the forests along the North Mills last April.

Crossing the ridge a spied a nice grove of Tuliptrees down in what is the beginning of a deep ravine or gully to the valley below. While they look young and skinny, they look tall. They are racing for the light. I got out my equipment and started measuring. By this time it is getting late with the long shadows of the evening, making the forest even more beautiful. It is peaceful and I am alone.

Dispite the leaves most of the trees turn out to be not too hard to measure. They are not overly close together which really helps. Still, I would probably get a bit higher readings in winter but I don't think I am off too much. Only on a 133.5 footer do I believe I am off a bit, mainly because it is measured from close to the tree which means I cannot see the very top. The others all come in very close to the same height, just under 140 feet. I also roughed out a nearby Chestnut Oak to about 100 feet.

Hiking onward I measure another tulip in another ravine. That tree turns out to be 139.4 feet tall. Right in the range of the others. Flowers line the trail ahead of me but the colors are fading. The sun is really low now and the forest is becoming much darker. It is very quiet. Acorns falling from the oaks is probably the loudest noise. They are quite a few of them this year. I stand, look, listen and sniff. Forests are beautiful at any time of day but there is nothing like a forest in the very early morning hours or late evening hours. It's magical. You almost expect something enchanting to happen. I think. " This is so much better than what I usually am doing at this time ". Usually on Monday evenings I am at work but today is a paid holiday. Labor Day. One well spent.

Turning around I start heading back. Passing the former grove I notice a large grape vine and venture back down to measure and photograph it. Measured about two feet from it's base it is 1' 6" in girth. Decent. But still. I stand. The lighting is growing still darker and the ridgetop now blocks the low sun which will set soon. I have been captured by the forests spell. Reluctantly I pull away, taking a GPS reading to mark the groves location before I go. Then I hit the trail heading back out the way I came. I wished the grove well as I went.

About halfway down the ridge I suddenly hear a loud noise ahead of me. My first thought was a deer. But nope, I saw a Black Bear scrambling up the hill to the left of me. I let it get some distance from me before moving forward. It was not a really large one. Probably a yearling cub or a female. My only real concern was wondering whether they may be another one unseen in front of me. The bear had been on the trail about 100 ft ahead of me when I first hear him run. Everything proceeded ok. Last week I heard Coyotes in Green River Game Lands and when I backtracked found new tracks where one crossed right behind me. You certainly see and hear more in the forests of late evening.

On the Google Earth screen capture the Forest Service rd that is the Yellow Gap trail looks much more prominent than it really is or is now. That was imaged in 2007 and in spring. Now in 2010 it has overgrown much more completely.

I get back to the car around sunset. Home I go. I think of the theme song for the old late 1970s show " The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams ". Not because of seeing a bear but because in many ways the forest is home to me.

" Deep inside the forest is a door into another land, here is our life and home.
We are staying here forever in the beauty of this place all alone.
We keep on hoping that maybe there's a world where we won't have to run,
and maybe there's a time to call our own, living free and harmony and majesty.
Take me home, take me home."


Re: Yellow Gap Trail, North Mills River

Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 12:27 pm
by dbhguru

Good job. Tulips rein just about everywhere we go between 31 and 41 degrees latitude.

Sadly, I wouldn't put much faith in green certification. It has proven largely to be a cover for practices we don't want to see.


Re: Yellow Gap Trail, North Mills River

Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:15 pm
by James Parton

I got that impression too, concerning green certification. I was just hoping....

That brushy_ridge_scoping pdf I attached shows in detail what they are planning for the area. In general it doesn't look good. The only positive thing I can really see is they are planning on designating some small areas as old growth sites.


Re: Yellow Gap Trail, North Mills River

Posted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:58 pm
by James Parton
Here is a link through Wildsouth where you can e-mail the Forest Service and make your feelings known on the preservation of the North Mills River watershed. ... he-pisgah-