Purgatory Gulch, Encampment River Wilderness, WY

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#1)  Purgatory Gulch, Encampment River Wilderness, WY

Postby Matt Markworth » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:39 pm

NTS,

Recently I spent a night in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming and got up the next morning with a plan to measure some trees. I chose Purgatory Gulch based on it having a lower elevation than much of the Medicine Bow National Forest and I thought it would have a better chance of having tall trees.

The grove of Engelmann spruce that I measured was at about 8,400' elevation. Subalpine fir and quaking aspen were also abundant.

Engelmann spruce:

7.96' x 135'
6.4' x 131.9'
6.9' x 131.8'
7.93' x 130'
8.72' x 121'

It was a very enjoyable day exploring and measuring trees, especially watching the herd of pronghorn above me on the slope.

Does anyone know if we've measured anything in Wyoming above 140' or have thoughts on the potential heights in the state?

Crossing over Snowy Range Pass in the snow:

               
                       
WY1.jpg
                                       
               


Looking down into Purgatory Gulch:

               
                       
WY2.JPG
                                       
               


The Engelmann spruce grove:

               
                       
WY3.jpg
                                       
               


The tops of the Engelmann spruce grove:

               
                       
WY4.jpg
                                       
               


Matt

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a_blooming_botanist, bbeduhn, Don, ElijahW, mdavie, pattyjenkins1, Will Blozan
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#2)  Re: Purgatory Gulch, Encampment River Wilderness, WY

Postby Lucas » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:13 am

I like the look of that country.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir
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#3)  Re: Purgatory Gulch, Encampment River Wilderness, WY

Postby Don » Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:44 pm

Having spent a brief interlude in Great Basin National Park last month, the breadth and consistency of the great basin vegetation communities is amazing to me. And what a great time Fall is to be in it...the range of temperatures, humidities vary the aromas and alas, allergens to an amazing degree!
Nice Engelmann spruce grove...care to make any guesses of how that grove came to be, there?
-Don
PS:Attaching a photo taken from campsite at Wheeler Peak Campground (elevation 10,000+) on September 22, 2016.

               
                       
IMG_7388.jpg
                       
Beginning of a 2" an hour snow fall...
               
               
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#4)  Re: Purgatory Gulch, Encampment River Wilderness, WY

Postby Matt Markworth » Tue Oct 11, 2016 7:35 pm

Don,

I think the tallest ones have access to a little bit of additional water coming from the side gulch on the left side of this photo.

Lots of dead lodgepole pines can also be seen with this particular angle.

               
                       
IMG_8656.JPG
                                       
               


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#5)  Re: Purgatory Gulch, Encampment River Wilderness, WY

Postby Don » Tue Oct 11, 2016 10:43 pm

Mark-
On the positive side, the passing of those lodgepoles will provide an opportunity for the adjacent aspen to pioneer, and overtime allow the slow invasion of the next wave of conifers...and so on.  Often fire is the disturbance agent in lodgepole pine forests, here it appears to be perhaps the same bark beetle that has ravaged Colorado for the last decade or so. Or in combination with drought, or...?
-Don
PS: Have you taken notice of the range of seasonal colors that aspen can display?  Those aspen on San Francisco Peaks overlooking Flagstaff, range from pale yellow to orange to red...when you see that color pattern continue over time, it suggests different clonal colonies.
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#6)  Re: Purgatory Gulch, Encampment River Wilderness, WY

Postby Matt Markworth » Tue Oct 11, 2016 11:47 pm

Don,

Seeing the aspens in the fall was one of the things I was looking forward to the most - and they didn't disappoint! I saw quite a bit of variation in color, but mostly it was bright yellow. Here's a photo with a nice stand in Colorado. I spent a week in Telluride and I'll put up a separate post with some of those photos. The aspens were incredible!

               
                       
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#7)  Re: Purgatory Gulch, Encampment River Wilderness, WY

Postby mdavie » Sat Oct 15, 2016 8:22 pm

Should have measured subalpine, apparently there isn't even a current champ!
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#8)  Re: Purgatory Gulch, Encampment River Wilderness, WY

Postby Matt Markworth » Sat Oct 15, 2016 10:09 pm

Interesting, looks like the reigning AF subalpine fir champ must have dropped off the list. I pulled up a pdf of the 2012 AF register and looks like it was a 389 point tree in Washington, submitted in 1965. It's also in my 1996 copy of Bob Van Pelt's Champion Trees of Washington State, showing a measurement in 1992. I wonder if it dropped off of the AF list because it lacked an updated measurement.

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