Thursday, October 30, 2008

Scouting the Upper End of the MF Trail

Last Sunday (October 26th) Ellie and I drove up to the Dingford Creek trailhead (the road was a lot less potholed than I expected) and did some scouting on that end of the Middle Fork Trail. There are some great trees just West of the trailhead in an area I have called "Pleasant Surprise Grove".

The reason for the name is that we actually went up off the trail first and, to my frustration, did not find a lot of old growth in areas I had high hopes for. Found two areas I called "3 big trees" and "4 big trees" but nothing that was notable enough to recommend. Then, on the way back, we walk into this group. Pleasant Surprise!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

An Easy Giant to Visit

If you would like to visit a Middle Fork Giant without a killer cross-country (ok, you will have to go 100' off the trail), the 9-hour Giant is for you. Note the 'average-sized' trees in the picture on each side.

It is located along the Middle Fork Trail #1003 about 2 miles from the bridge across the river. To get there, hike East on the trail. It is flat, easy and well-maintained. There are two places where the trail makes an 'S' up slope. Past the second one is a long straightish stretch. You will cross a couple of minor streams then cut into a rocky, mossy ravine just before a major crossing (rocks in Summer, a log in winter). This is the creek from 9-Hour lake. You passed the tree.
Go back about 150 yards before the rocky ravine and look North (towards the river). You will see a large Douglas Fir in the woods about 100' from the trail.

I measured it as follows:
Survey measurement (at 200'): 230' tall
Circumferance (measured above the obvious bulge): 29' (or about 9' diameter)

This is not anything special as far as Douglas Firs go but it is the tallest tree I have measured. As you go on to 9-hour creek you will see more old-growth near the creek up and down hill. The Land of Giants is up hill a long, hard way, but that's another story.

In the Land of Giants

Pretty exciting find this last Saturday (October 18th). Hiked up the Middle Fork Trail past the 9-hour giant (see next post) and then went up hill West of the creek from 9-hour lake. At about 1600' the stumps stop, it gets steep, and there are a whole lot of big trees. I measured a couple and they were in the 180-200' range, so nothing really big but they went on and on. In fact, that group of trees was pretty continuous for about a mile West until you get to the really brushy rock field just before the Rainy Creek drainage.

This is big-time cross country work here. Extremely steep with, essentially, ramps that lead from various 'shelves' (in quotes because they are only flat relative to the other terrain). Crossing the four stream beds is even more challenging with the first two being the worst. I went up to 1800' along 9-hour creek then traversed up to about 2,000'. I crossed into the brush at 2,300', right near a tree with a huge base, but splits into three trees about 30' up (almost took a picture by it but thought it would be misleading).

This was the hardest cross-country I have ever done in my life, taking over 4 hours to go that mile. In retrospect, I probably should have had a helmet. Although I left a detailed route description at home, I'm pretty sure, had I fallen, I would have never been found.

All that aside, this was the longest stretch of large old-growth I have seen in Washington outside of the Olympic NP or North Cascades NP. I think it is the Land of Giants.

I had great hopes for the Rainy Creek drainage but was dissappointed to find it all logged, even into the areas I showed as old-growth. It was a perfect place, you can tell by the stumps!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Searching for Giants, the Serial

I have recently started a Searching for Giants serial on YouTube. The first installment follows Zach and me on a search through the Upper CCC Grove. Take a look and let me know what you think:

Be sure to click "watch in high quality", we all look better without the 'blur'

Saturday, October 4, 2008

West Garfield Grove, October 4, 2008

This is pretty darn exciting. Was going hiking with a couple of friends who wanted help learning compass skills. We were going to the East side but rain on both sides seemed like it wasn't worth the drive. Decided to go tree hunting instead.

Using a map I had put together earlier, we went up the West Side of Garfield. The logged area was well into my 'old-growth' markings on my map but eventually got past them. Then, all at once here we were in a grove of dozens of big trees. A mix of douglas fir and cedar, there were definitely some giants.

Marcus, Zach, and Adam at the biggest tree in the West Garfield Grove

There are two ravines up there, the first one we could get over but the second is deep, steep, and we couldn't find a way across. There are more big trees on the other side.

Marten Creek Grove

The First MF Giant

In Spring of 2008, my daughter Ellie and I visited the Marten Creek Grove up the Taylor river. The old trail to Marten lake (now very hard to find) goes up the Southwest side of Marten Creek. Follow it up and you will find "a mean little old trail ....(which) climbs to awesome ancient cedars, some more than 12 feet in diameter" as Harvey Manning describes it in his 101 hikes book.

There is some real potential here and I need to go back.

Ellie Allen next to our first giant

What are the Middle Fork Giants?

This blog is dedicated to locating large, old-growth trees in the Middle Fork Valley of the Snoqualmie River. My name is Brad Allen and I am a local hiker, climber, and lover of the outdoors located in Redmond, Washington. In 2005, while on a hike in the North Cascades, I came across a beautiful valley of old-growth trees. Somehow this set a spark that, combined with a trip to the Redwoods and reading Wild Trees by Richard Preston got me thinking about old growth giants.

As much as I would like to poke around in the Redwoods, Vancouver Island, or the Olympic National Forest, I have a job, a house, and commitments here. While looking at maps of the area, I happened on the Middle Fork Valley which seemed to fit all of the criteria for big trees.

I was already familiar with this valley having spent several outings attempting to climb various peaks in it and taking out of town guests there when everything else was full of snow.

My daughter Ellie and I made a winter trip in early 2008 on the CCC trail and located my first MF Giant, a lone cedar somehow missed by massive clearcuts on both sides. It fit the pattern, down in a ravine with protection from the wind.