On Monday Chris and I headed up to Lee Canyon in the Spring Mountains. I knew that I wanted to see bristlecone pines on this trip and this was the perfect place. A big thanks to Chris for being my “guide” for the day. The route that he chose allowed us to measure some exceptional trees! In addition to the measurements and photos, there is a short video at the end with more tree scenes.
On the drive in we spotted some big ponderosa pines and decided to measure them on the way out. They would turn out to be bigger than I ever dreamed of seeing on this trip. Gaining more elevation, we hit the trail and found some nice ponderosa pines and white firs. Here are the measured trees and a couple photos from the first part of our hike:Rocky Mountain Ponderosa Pine
12’6” x 112.8’
11’3” x 112.2’
9’6” x 68.7’White Fir
9’2” x 88.2’
After hiking the trail through this nice grove of ponderosa pine, white fir, quaking aspen, and to a lesser extent limber pine, we headed up to the ridge to check out the old, gnarly bristlecone pines. I believe we topped out around 9,700’ elevation. They are certainly stunning trees! The tallest measured was 75.3’. I don’t have a good feel for bristlecone pine maximum heights, but I think this tree represents a tall specimen and should be a good benchmark for any future measurements. I’d love to see more numbers for this species if anyone else has measured them. The tree has an interesting trunk with a dead stem in the middle and a bigger stem apparently wrapping itself all the way around the dead stem. The biggest girth we measured was 15’1”, which was an interesting tree to measure based on a significant lean.
Here are the measurements and photos for this portion of the hike:Bristlecone Pine
15’1” x 44.1’
10’6” x 75.3’
7’3” x 72’
On the way back down we spotted more nice ponderosa pines and got back to the ones spotted earlier in the day. The biggest one came in at a whopping 16’11” CBH. Chris pulled up the NV big tree list and based on the closeness of the measurements we determined this is the same tree submitted by Bob Van Pelt in 2003. The tree has lost some height and crown spread, and girth is virtually unchanged. With dead branches up high the tree is clearly in decline, but it’s still an impressive pine!
Compared to the ponderosa pines I saw at Hermosa Creek last year, it seems that the pines in the Spring Mountains have the advantage in girth/volume, whereas the pines at Hermosa Creek have the advantage in height. The pines in Lee Canyon thrive in flat, open areas and can really put on the girth.
Here are the measurements and some photos for the trees we encountered as we made our way back down:Rocky Mountain Ponderosa Pine
16’11” x 133.5’ x 51.3’
14’2” (not in Lee Canyon, spotted on the drive out)
13’11” x 108.6’
9’9” x 114’
21 Second Mark – Full View of the 15’1” CBH bristlecone pine
28 Second Mark – Random snowball comes flying in:)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8LjuLglGSY