Jocassee Gorges, NC and SC

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bbeduhn
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Jocassee Gorges, NC and SC

Post by bbeduhn » Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:00 pm

Last week on the Laurel Valley/Whitewater run/hike, I paid close attention to trees. One spot had impressed me in the past so I paid very close attention to it. White pines towered above lush, rhododendron covered ground. Tulips, sweetgum and red maples were common but the stars of the show were the white pines. Typically, other pines are present as well but it was virtually 100% white pine along Bearcamp Creek. I thought they'd easily reach 170' and perhaps 180' or more but my judgment was obviously a bit clouded from having spent 9 hours on the trail at that point. Even so, I believe the tallest pines in Jocassee Gorges are at bearcamp Creek.

In a small cove just a few hundred feet above Bearcamp, along a small tributary, I noticed some height in the trees. The result was very surprising. The trees along the Foothills Trail in this section are generally quite young with some patches of 100+ years but most are in the 40-80 year range. The Bearcamp pines appear to be 80-100 years. One log was dated at 90 years, although it had fallen and was cut a number of years ago so it's likely 100 years. The small cove appeared to be a bit younger, perhaps 70-80 years.

I started on the South Carolina side and found one stellar mountain silverbell, likely a SC state record at 115.5'. Hickories are common but most do not attain great height very often due to being too young. Along the Laurel Fork and in the Eastatoe Gorge, both bitternut and mockernut attain some serious height but not along the Jocassee as far as I know. Many small north-facing coves abound so treasures are out there, they're just very remote.

South Carolina

Halesia monticola mountain silverbell 115.5' possible SC record

North Carolina

Carya alba mockernut hickory 122.3'
Carya ovalis red hickory 103.7'
Carya cordiformis bitternut hick 116.7' 113.1'
Fagus grandifolia beech 126.4' 114.3'
Quercus alba white oak 125.9'
Liriodendron tulipifera tulip 143.6'
Pinus virginiana Virginia pine 106.9'
Tsuga canadensis hemlock 114.2'
Pinus strobus white pine 163.7' 155.2' 154.2' 152.7'

small cove

Liriodendron tulipifera 172.9' 153.8'
Acer rubrum red maple 130.4'
Robinia pseudoacacia blk locust 119.4'

That's just a small sampling from the small cove. Leaves made it difficult. Fortunately, a road runs just below the cove so it has easy access from below.

The measurements are summer measurements. The tops were visible but shrubbery around some of the bottoms was cause for guesstimates on some trees, most notably the white pines. I contend they're within 2 feet.

Brian

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Jocassee Gorges, NC and SC

Post by Larry Tucei » Tue Aug 19, 2014 3:25 pm

Brian- Nice report, just think fall is right around the corner- for some serious tree hunting. Larry

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bbeduhn
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Re: Jocassee Gorges, NC and SC

Post by bbeduhn » Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:37 am

I made it back to this area a couple of times last winter. I noticed the top of the SC champ silverbell experienced crown dieback and the next time it had lost a bit of its top. It is now just 91.9', down from 115.5'.

Where the Foothills Trail and a forest road meet, lies the small cove I reported on in 2014. This will be cove 1. Cove 2 is just south of cove 1.

Cove 1

Lirio tulip 177.6' 167.9' 155.5' 150.0'
robinia pseudo 140.3'
Fraxinus biltmore 138.1'
Acer rubrum 130.4'
Fagus American 129.5'
Pinus strobus 129.2'
Carya glabra 128.8' 127.3'
Quercus rubra 123.6'
Quercus montana 115.2'
Quercus velotina 111.4'
Carya alba 108.0'
Tsuga canadensis 95.0'
Diasporos virginia 93.4'

cove 2

Lirio tulip 157.2' 156.8'
Quercus alba 131.9'
Quercus rubra 127.7'
Carya glabra 126.0'
Quercus velotina 119.4'
Quercus montana 117.1'

R10= 135.29'
177.6' and 167.9'
177.6' and 167.9'
177.6' and 167.9'
177.6' and 167.9'
Last edited by bbeduhn on Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bbeduhn
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Re: Jocassee Gorges, NC and SC

Post by bbeduhn » Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:01 pm

One goal this winter is to get back to the Horsepasture River and continue measuring there. My trip last year involved 19 miles of hiking. Fortunately, I have found a shorter way of getting there.

On the approach to the Horsepasture gorge, I noticed a few old hardwoods in a southwest facing cove. These appeared to be in excess of 150 years, right next to a logging road. I don't know why they were spared.

Quercus alba 136.5' 128.8'
Carya alba 125.1'

The first cove I encountered was loaded with sweetgum and tulip. I just measured one sweetgum at 136.9'. They aren't often seen in the mountains. This cove is at about 1900' elevation. I traveled just a little further along the logging road and found a tall tulip at 172'. There are many small coves along an extensive slope yet to explore.

liquid styraciflua 136.9'
lirio tulip 172.2' 153.7' 152.0' 151.7' 150.6'
Fraxinus biltmore 126.5'
Robinia pseudo 123.8'
Carya glabra 130.3'
Carya alba 119.2'
Carya cordiformis 118.5'

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Bart Bouricius
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Re: Jocassee Gorges, NC and SC

Post by Bart Bouricius » Wed Jan 16, 2019 8:39 am

Brian good information from an impressive site. Like me, when you are at a really good location with limited time, you focus on getting as many heights as possible. So I was just wondering did the really tall Tulips have relatively small diameters?

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bbeduhn
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Re: Jocassee Gorges, NC and SC

Post by bbeduhn » Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:31 pm

Bart,
They sure did have small diameters, likely 8' or so cbh or <3' in diameter. They're probably 75-80 years old.
Brian

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