29 December, 2009

Hangin' with Sueno

On an impossibly gorgeous day in mid-December, 2009 I had the wonderful opportunity to get a personal lesson in tree climbing from none other than the father of recreation tree climbing and founder of Tree Climbers International, Peter Jenkins. This is an accout of that day.

I initially contacted Peter (and his wife Patti) regarding their weekly Sunday beginer climbs. That quickly expanded to a conversation on the old growth trees in Fernbank Forest where I work... and THAT quickly branched out to tree education and ways in which TCI and Fernbank could work together to help bring the wonder and awe of trees to the public in metro-Atlanta.

Trees behind the TCI hostel
TCI hostel trees

Gear room at the TCI hostel
TCI gear room

After a quick tour of the TCI hostel, climbing trees, and his home, Peter took us to visit a large stately Willow Oak on the far north end of the city close to Peachtree-Dunwoody rd and I-285. This tree is named "Sueno".

instruction from Peter
learning from Peter

Peter throwing (he was damn good at this- only 2 or 3 tries for each line!)
Peter throwing

Setting up the rope- cambium saver which protects the bark (and rope?)
cambium saver

I'm ready.
Eli excited



Robby climbing

Matt's face says everything you need to know about this amazing day!
Matt giddy

We probably spent an hour or more up in the branches of Sueno, but looking back it seems like only a fleeting moment. Life was so different only 40 feet above the ground. No people looked up. Cars continued to drive by in the mad rat race of Atlanta traffic. At least 4 different species of birds landed near us on the branches of Sueno. All while we just hung there in complete awe of our surroundings. Each push/pull up the rope gave us a new view of this tree. New lichen colors and formations, pools of water in the crotches of the tree that birds used to quench their thirst, scars from limbs of yesterday that were long gone... It was really a magical place. The sky was impossibly blue- California blue as I like to call it. The wind would rustle the bare twigs, then just as quickly die down. I can't begin to imagine what life is like at the tops of the 350+ foot tall Coastal Redwoods that Richard Preston mentions in "The Wild Trees"- that book after all is what started my whole obsession with trees.... I look forward to experiencing where this obsession will lead me next.

15 December, 2009

December in Fernbank Forest

A few days ago I had the opportunity to spend about 7 hours in the largest urban piedmont old growth forest in the world. It was amazing. I measured numerous trees with my new laser rangefinder and found the canopy to be 20-30 feet higher than previously thought in many areas. Tuliptrees topped out near 155' and there may very well be a few to 160'. Even the White Oaks were up near 140'. Really spectacular. I also traced the perennial Fernbank Creek upstream (nearly) to it's source. Many of the fern species Emily Harrison saw over 100 years ago (and consequently caused her to come up with the name "Fernbank") still line the stream in this area.

Even the front yard trees in Druid Hills are TALL- this was part of the original Fernbank Forest over 100 years ago and likely a relic from that time
giant yard Tuliptree

lunch spot
lunch spot

150'+ Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)- I strongly believe there are some 160 footers in this forest too
150'+ Tuliptree

'shrooms- it's like a rainforest with all the rain this year (75"+ in spots)
fungus colony

Loblolly Pine Bark
Loblolly bark

weird Beech tree trunk stuff
weird beech trunk

Fernbank Creek (perennial)
Fernbank Creek

further upstream (close to the supposed spring)

Broad Beech fern
broad beech fern