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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Woodworker's Paradise

Most Saturday mornings, I am hiking in Trace Fork Canyon in South Charleston, WV. Heavily wooded, steep, and rocky, the canyon is 300' deep and runs several miles right through some of the most congested urban sprawl in West Virginia. You can literally go from shopping centers and subdivisions right into hundreds of acres of forested paradise in just a few minutes. Here's a photo I took with a model airplane on a bright, hazy July morning, showing the canyon snaking away into the distance, with one of the many shopping centers that line the rim across from the park:



I grew up on a wooded 10 acre homestead adjacent to Little Creek Park, a 300 acre city park. The happiest times of my youth were hiking and fishing in the canyon. I've gone Back to the Future for my mid-life crisis, and most weekends over the past year I could be found rediscovering the many miles of trails running in or near the canyon. As a long time woodworker, I couldn't help but notice the thousands of fallen trees along the hillsides. I've helped with trail maintenance after storms, and have even taken home some chunks of wood. However, carrying a chain saw and 50 pounds of wood a mile or more back to the car over extremely rugged terrain is a recipe for a very sore back - spoken from experience!!

Since I started carving walking sticks this year, I've kept a take-down bucksaw in my pack, and look for suitable stock from fallen trees. To date, I've collected Black Walnut, Black Cherry, Hickory, Ash, Elm, Boxelder, Hemlock, White Poplar, Beech, Red Oak, White Oak, and Sycamore. Here is a shot of some sticks in various stages from very green to ready for pyrographic detail:



Here is a very common view, with an up close shot:





The last two shots are of a large Black Oak (see edit below) that fell over, knocking down a large White Oak, which took out several smaller trees, just missing a pair of nice American Hornbeams. Darn!! The carnage led from the first big Oak, over the trail and down the hill, all the way to a second parallel trail at the bottom of the ravine. Here are some shots of the carnage:









I had to clean out my son's car really well when I got home:



Here is today's take in my garage:



I've already waxed the ends of all of those sticks. Most of them I'll be able to use next spring, but the bigger ones I'll let dry until spring 2011. I've read two different theories on drying branches. One says to leave the bark on as they dry, the other says to strip the bark before drying. I did have the big Poplar stick in one of the above photos split badly within a week of peeling it and putting it in my garage, but most of my other sticks have been OK. I prefer to strip the bark before drying. Besides, I find the use of a drawknife and spokeshave to be strangely relaxing….I guess it takes all kinds.

Tony

EDIT 4/7/09: The large fallen tree I originally identified as a Northern Red Oak is actually a Black Oak, Quercus velutina. I was tipped off last night while carving one of the branches I culled from it. It had bright orange inner bark, and strange channels running longitudinally through the wood, just under the bark. The channels almost look like they were carved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Woodworker's Paradise

Most Saturday mornings, I am hiking in Trace Fork Canyon in South Charleston, WV. Heavily wooded, steep, and rocky, the canyon is 300' deep and runs several miles right through some of the most congested urban sprawl in West Virginia. You can literally go from shopping centers and subdivisions right into hundreds of acres of forested paradise in just a few minutes. Here's a photo I took with a model airplane on a bright, hazy July morning, showing the canyon snaking away into the distance, with one of the many shopping centers that line the rim across from the park:



I grew up on a wooded 10 acre homestead adjacent to Little Creek Park, a 300 acre city park. The happiest times of my youth were hiking and fishing in the canyon. I've gone Back to the Future for my mid-life crisis, and most weekends over the past year I could be found rediscovering the many miles of trails running in or near the canyon. As a long time woodworker, I couldn't help but notice the thousands of fallen trees along the hillsides. I've helped with trail maintenance after storms, and have even taken home some chunks of wood. However, carrying a chain saw and 50 pounds of wood a mile or more back to the car over extremely rugged terrain is a recipe for a very sore back - spoken from experience!!

Since I started carving walking sticks this year, I've kept a take-down bucksaw in my pack, and look for suitable stock from fallen trees. To date, I've collected Black Walnut, Black Cherry, Hickory, Ash, Elm, Boxelder, Hemlock, White Poplar, Beech, Red Oak, White Oak, and Sycamore. Here is a shot of some sticks in various stages from very green to ready for pyrographic detail:



Here is a very common view, with an up close shot:





The last two shots are of a large Black Oak (see edit below) that fell over, knocking down a large White Oak, which took out several smaller trees, just missing a pair of nice American Hornbeams. Darn!! The carnage led from the first big Oak, over the trail and down the hill, all the way to a second parallel trail at the bottom of the ravine. Here are some shots of the carnage:









I had to clean out my son's car really well when I got home:



Here is today's take in my garage:



I've already waxed the ends of all of those sticks. Most of them I'll be able to use next spring, but the bigger ones I'll let dry until spring 2011. I've read two different theories on drying branches. One says to leave the bark on as they dry, the other says to strip the bark before drying. I did have the big Poplar stick in one of the above photos split badly within a week of peeling it and putting it in my garage, but most of my other sticks have been OK. I prefer to strip the bark before drying. Besides, I find the use of a drawknife and spokeshave to be strangely relaxing….I guess it takes all kinds.

Tony

EDIT 4/7/09: The large fallen tree I originally identified as a Northern Red Oak is actually a Black Oak, Quercus velutina. I was tipped off last night while carving one of the branches I culled from it. It had bright orange inner bark, and strange channels running longitudinally through the wood, just under the bark. The channels almost look like they were carved.
Well, I have a little work to do to figure out photo posting. All of the above photos are chopped off on the right side.

TT
 

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Woodworker's Paradise

Most Saturday mornings, I am hiking in Trace Fork Canyon in South Charleston, WV. Heavily wooded, steep, and rocky, the canyon is 300' deep and runs several miles right through some of the most congested urban sprawl in West Virginia. You can literally go from shopping centers and subdivisions right into hundreds of acres of forested paradise in just a few minutes. Here's a photo I took with a model airplane on a bright, hazy July morning, showing the canyon snaking away into the distance, with one of the many shopping centers that line the rim across from the park:



I grew up on a wooded 10 acre homestead adjacent to Little Creek Park, a 300 acre city park. The happiest times of my youth were hiking and fishing in the canyon. I've gone Back to the Future for my mid-life crisis, and most weekends over the past year I could be found rediscovering the many miles of trails running in or near the canyon. As a long time woodworker, I couldn't help but notice the thousands of fallen trees along the hillsides. I've helped with trail maintenance after storms, and have even taken home some chunks of wood. However, carrying a chain saw and 50 pounds of wood a mile or more back to the car over extremely rugged terrain is a recipe for a very sore back - spoken from experience!!

Since I started carving walking sticks this year, I've kept a take-down bucksaw in my pack, and look for suitable stock from fallen trees. To date, I've collected Black Walnut, Black Cherry, Hickory, Ash, Elm, Boxelder, Hemlock, White Poplar, Beech, Red Oak, White Oak, and Sycamore. Here is a shot of some sticks in various stages from very green to ready for pyrographic detail:



Here is a very common view, with an up close shot:





The last two shots are of a large Black Oak (see edit below) that fell over, knocking down a large White Oak, which took out several smaller trees, just missing a pair of nice American Hornbeams. Darn!! The carnage led from the first big Oak, over the trail and down the hill, all the way to a second parallel trail at the bottom of the ravine. Here are some shots of the carnage:









I had to clean out my son's car really well when I got home:



Here is today's take in my garage:



I've already waxed the ends of all of those sticks. Most of them I'll be able to use next spring, but the bigger ones I'll let dry until spring 2011. I've read two different theories on drying branches. One says to leave the bark on as they dry, the other says to strip the bark before drying. I did have the big Poplar stick in one of the above photos split badly within a week of peeling it and putting it in my garage, but most of my other sticks have been OK. I prefer to strip the bark before drying. Besides, I find the use of a drawknife and spokeshave to be strangely relaxing….I guess it takes all kinds.

Tony

EDIT 4/7/09: The large fallen tree I originally identified as a Northern Red Oak is actually a Black Oak, Quercus velutina. I was tipped off last night while carving one of the branches I culled from it. It had bright orange inner bark, and strange channels running longitudinally through the wood, just under the bark. The channels almost look like they were carved.
Is it legal to cut up downed trees in West Virginia? It certainly seems a shame to let all of that lumber go to waste. I know that downed trees will gradually decay and add to the "humus" of the forest floor, but here in California, too much underbrush and downed trees has contributed to some nasty forest fires. Somewhere between 100 and 200 homes were burned to the ground near Lake Tahoe in the summer of 2007 because of a forest fire (started by an illegal campfire) that quickly got out of control because of the high density of brush and trees in the woods. The state agency in control of forest preservation had a policy of not clearing out the forest.

It would sure be nice if you could be a "responsible citizen" and help make the forest a safer place by taking home some of that lumber. At least you get some great times of relaxation as you hike through the woods.
 

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Woodworker's Paradise

Most Saturday mornings, I am hiking in Trace Fork Canyon in South Charleston, WV. Heavily wooded, steep, and rocky, the canyon is 300' deep and runs several miles right through some of the most congested urban sprawl in West Virginia. You can literally go from shopping centers and subdivisions right into hundreds of acres of forested paradise in just a few minutes. Here's a photo I took with a model airplane on a bright, hazy July morning, showing the canyon snaking away into the distance, with one of the many shopping centers that line the rim across from the park:



I grew up on a wooded 10 acre homestead adjacent to Little Creek Park, a 300 acre city park. The happiest times of my youth were hiking and fishing in the canyon. I've gone Back to the Future for my mid-life crisis, and most weekends over the past year I could be found rediscovering the many miles of trails running in or near the canyon. As a long time woodworker, I couldn't help but notice the thousands of fallen trees along the hillsides. I've helped with trail maintenance after storms, and have even taken home some chunks of wood. However, carrying a chain saw and 50 pounds of wood a mile or more back to the car over extremely rugged terrain is a recipe for a very sore back - spoken from experience!!

Since I started carving walking sticks this year, I've kept a take-down bucksaw in my pack, and look for suitable stock from fallen trees. To date, I've collected Black Walnut, Black Cherry, Hickory, Ash, Elm, Boxelder, Hemlock, White Poplar, Beech, Red Oak, White Oak, and Sycamore. Here is a shot of some sticks in various stages from very green to ready for pyrographic detail:



Here is a very common view, with an up close shot:





The last two shots are of a large Black Oak (see edit below) that fell over, knocking down a large White Oak, which took out several smaller trees, just missing a pair of nice American Hornbeams. Darn!! The carnage led from the first big Oak, over the trail and down the hill, all the way to a second parallel trail at the bottom of the ravine. Here are some shots of the carnage:









I had to clean out my son's car really well when I got home:



Here is today's take in my garage:



I've already waxed the ends of all of those sticks. Most of them I'll be able to use next spring, but the bigger ones I'll let dry until spring 2011. I've read two different theories on drying branches. One says to leave the bark on as they dry, the other says to strip the bark before drying. I did have the big Poplar stick in one of the above photos split badly within a week of peeling it and putting it in my garage, but most of my other sticks have been OK. I prefer to strip the bark before drying. Besides, I find the use of a drawknife and spokeshave to be strangely relaxing….I guess it takes all kinds.

Tony

EDIT 4/7/09: The large fallen tree I originally identified as a Northern Red Oak is actually a Black Oak, Quercus velutina. I was tipped off last night while carving one of the branches I culled from it. It had bright orange inner bark, and strange channels running longitudinally through the wood, just under the bark. The channels almost look like they were carved.
A very nice story.

I've discovered that wood up to 1" to 1 1/2" doesn't check much when peeling before drying.

Besides it peels much easier when it's green.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Woodworker's Paradise

Most Saturday mornings, I am hiking in Trace Fork Canyon in South Charleston, WV. Heavily wooded, steep, and rocky, the canyon is 300' deep and runs several miles right through some of the most congested urban sprawl in West Virginia. You can literally go from shopping centers and subdivisions right into hundreds of acres of forested paradise in just a few minutes. Here's a photo I took with a model airplane on a bright, hazy July morning, showing the canyon snaking away into the distance, with one of the many shopping centers that line the rim across from the park:



I grew up on a wooded 10 acre homestead adjacent to Little Creek Park, a 300 acre city park. The happiest times of my youth were hiking and fishing in the canyon. I've gone Back to the Future for my mid-life crisis, and most weekends over the past year I could be found rediscovering the many miles of trails running in or near the canyon. As a long time woodworker, I couldn't help but notice the thousands of fallen trees along the hillsides. I've helped with trail maintenance after storms, and have even taken home some chunks of wood. However, carrying a chain saw and 50 pounds of wood a mile or more back to the car over extremely rugged terrain is a recipe for a very sore back - spoken from experience!!

Since I started carving walking sticks this year, I've kept a take-down bucksaw in my pack, and look for suitable stock from fallen trees. To date, I've collected Black Walnut, Black Cherry, Hickory, Ash, Elm, Boxelder, Hemlock, White Poplar, Beech, Red Oak, White Oak, and Sycamore. Here is a shot of some sticks in various stages from very green to ready for pyrographic detail:



Here is a very common view, with an up close shot:





The last two shots are of a large Black Oak (see edit below) that fell over, knocking down a large White Oak, which took out several smaller trees, just missing a pair of nice American Hornbeams. Darn!! The carnage led from the first big Oak, over the trail and down the hill, all the way to a second parallel trail at the bottom of the ravine. Here are some shots of the carnage:









I had to clean out my son's car really well when I got home:



Here is today's take in my garage:



I've already waxed the ends of all of those sticks. Most of them I'll be able to use next spring, but the bigger ones I'll let dry until spring 2011. I've read two different theories on drying branches. One says to leave the bark on as they dry, the other says to strip the bark before drying. I did have the big Poplar stick in one of the above photos split badly within a week of peeling it and putting it in my garage, but most of my other sticks have been OK. I prefer to strip the bark before drying. Besides, I find the use of a drawknife and spokeshave to be strangely relaxing….I guess it takes all kinds.

Tony

EDIT 4/7/09: The large fallen tree I originally identified as a Northern Red Oak is actually a Black Oak, Quercus velutina. I was tipped off last night while carving one of the branches I culled from it. It had bright orange inner bark, and strange channels running longitudinally through the wood, just under the bark. The channels almost look like they were carved.
oldwoodman,

We hikers and bikers clear the trails of downed trees all the time. Beech and Red Oak seem to be the ones that fall the most, either through their roots failing or lightning strikes. Some of the fallen trees I've seen are so massive two people together couldn't reach around the trunk. Unfortunately, there is just no feasible way to get large chunks of wood back to the vehicle.

TT
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Interesting Trees

I always carry a camera with me in the woods, and have seen a lot of interesting things, like this massive fallen Red Oak. I was actually standing on this thing while I took the photo:



At the spot where the trail from my mom's property enters the park, this beast has fallen. My measly 16" chain saw would be no match for this monster:




Lots of lightning hits. This one is all the way down on the canyon floor:




(Every time I pass a big Beech, I wonder if there is a bear in it.)

Another lightning strike. This tree actually survived the blast, but I don't know how it is still standing:




I see lots of trees with galls, but this one is huge:



This tree reminds me of an Anaconda. It is still very much alive, even laying on the hillside. Any takers on the species? I was thinking Green Ash due to its soggy location, but not now. The leaves haven't developed enough to tell, but it looks like they are alternate and compound:





Some nice burl. I've never found burl larger than about 6" wide on a fallen tree, but I'm keeping my eye on these:







Finally, a couple shots of something I think is in the Aesculus (Buckeye) genus just coming out:


 

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Interesting Trees

I always carry a camera with me in the woods, and have seen a lot of interesting things, like this massive fallen Red Oak. I was actually standing on this thing while I took the photo:



At the spot where the trail from my mom's property enters the park, this beast has fallen. My measly 16" chain saw would be no match for this monster:




Lots of lightning hits. This one is all the way down on the canyon floor:




(Every time I pass a big Beech, I wonder if there is a bear in it.)

Another lightning strike. This tree actually survived the blast, but I don't know how it is still standing:




I see lots of trees with galls, but this one is huge:



This tree reminds me of an Anaconda. It is still very much alive, even laying on the hillside. Any takers on the species? I was thinking Green Ash due to its soggy location, but not now. The leaves haven't developed enough to tell, but it looks like they are alternate and compound:





Some nice burl. I've never found burl larger than about 6" wide on a fallen tree, but I'm keeping my eye on these:







Finally, a couple shots of something I think is in the Aesculus (Buckeye) genus just coming out:


Interesting pictures.
Bring along a chainsaw in you next visit. I think the red oak would be a great deal of wood supply for your projects. Just asking, is cutting fallen trees and taking them out of the woods allowed in your country?
 

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Interesting Trees

I always carry a camera with me in the woods, and have seen a lot of interesting things, like this massive fallen Red Oak. I was actually standing on this thing while I took the photo:



At the spot where the trail from my mom's property enters the park, this beast has fallen. My measly 16" chain saw would be no match for this monster:




Lots of lightning hits. This one is all the way down on the canyon floor:




(Every time I pass a big Beech, I wonder if there is a bear in it.)

Another lightning strike. This tree actually survived the blast, but I don't know how it is still standing:




I see lots of trees with galls, but this one is huge:



This tree reminds me of an Anaconda. It is still very much alive, even laying on the hillside. Any takers on the species? I was thinking Green Ash due to its soggy location, but not now. The leaves haven't developed enough to tell, but it looks like they are alternate and compound:





Some nice burl. I've never found burl larger than about 6" wide on a fallen tree, but I'm keeping my eye on these:







Finally, a couple shots of something I think is in the Aesculus (Buckeye) genus just coming out:


WOW…
Its must be fresh and peacefull there, wish i was there.

Thanks for sharring.
 

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Interesting Trees

I always carry a camera with me in the woods, and have seen a lot of interesting things, like this massive fallen Red Oak. I was actually standing on this thing while I took the photo:



At the spot where the trail from my mom's property enters the park, this beast has fallen. My measly 16" chain saw would be no match for this monster:




Lots of lightning hits. This one is all the way down on the canyon floor:




(Every time I pass a big Beech, I wonder if there is a bear in it.)

Another lightning strike. This tree actually survived the blast, but I don't know how it is still standing:




I see lots of trees with galls, but this one is huge:



This tree reminds me of an Anaconda. It is still very much alive, even laying on the hillside. Any takers on the species? I was thinking Green Ash due to its soggy location, but not now. The leaves haven't developed enough to tell, but it looks like they are alternate and compound:





Some nice burl. I've never found burl larger than about 6" wide on a fallen tree, but I'm keeping my eye on these:







Finally, a couple shots of something I think is in the Aesculus (Buckeye) genus just coming out:


Great series of pictures. Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Interesting Trees

I always carry a camera with me in the woods, and have seen a lot of interesting things, like this massive fallen Red Oak. I was actually standing on this thing while I took the photo:



At the spot where the trail from my mom's property enters the park, this beast has fallen. My measly 16" chain saw would be no match for this monster:




Lots of lightning hits. This one is all the way down on the canyon floor:




(Every time I pass a big Beech, I wonder if there is a bear in it.)

Another lightning strike. This tree actually survived the blast, but I don't know how it is still standing:




I see lots of trees with galls, but this one is huge:



This tree reminds me of an Anaconda. It is still very much alive, even laying on the hillside. Any takers on the species? I was thinking Green Ash due to its soggy location, but not now. The leaves haven't developed enough to tell, but it looks like they are alternate and compound:





Some nice burl. I've never found burl larger than about 6" wide on a fallen tree, but I'm keeping my eye on these:







Finally, a couple shots of something I think is in the Aesculus (Buckeye) genus just coming out:


woodworm: The legality varies from community to community, state to state. There are several volunteers that help keep the trails clear, but they just cut the wood and roll it to the side. I know of no other woodworkers who go there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
What a difference a week makes

A week ago last Saturday, my son and I went hiking down in the canyon. It was quite windy and cold when we started, but by the time we'd hiked a couple of hours, we shed our jackets as the wind died and the sky cleared. My son helped me find some more branches for carving, and we found a small Hornbeam that had recently been taken out by a storm, and I cut a piece to take home for carving. This is my first experience working with Hornbeam, and peeling the bark reminded me of peeling a cucumber - it even has a similar smell.

The Hornbeam was at the bottom of the canyon, where we encountered this. You could have easily kayaked the entire 9 mile length of the creek:

Photobucket

Little Creek Park was more like Little River Park that week, but I've actually seen the creek much higher. Remember the saying "God watches over children and fools"? Well, I guess I was both as a kid, because I remember wading the creek when it looked like this, but was above my waist! I guess it wasn't my time to go, because I know of local incidents where people have drowned in only 2 feet of fast moving water. Time has definitely changed me, because I was getting quite antsy when my 17 year old son got a little too close to the edge of the bank.

My son was at camp this week, so I returned to the same spot alone to get some more Hornbeam. Not only did I get a couple of nice branches for carving, but I got these photos:

Photobucket

Photobucket

The creek was crystal clear and beautiful. I have fished this hole many times. The fish are small, but voracious and plentiful:

Photobucket

I'm to the point now that I'm running out of room for the branches I have drying for next year. I have plenty of Oaks, Beech, and Ash, and added the Hornbeam sticks this weekend. My experiments with year-old Hemlock and Redbud were not very satisfactory, so I pitched them. I'm still looking for new species to try. I only collect from fallen trees, which are plentiful in the canyon, but the majority of the ones that I find are Oak or Beech. I did find a large Beech that had been struck by lightning seemingly decades ago. The standing portion was about 10' tall, and had two large burls barely within reach. I suspected the tree was rotten, and when I started to cut around one of the burls, it felt like cutting a dry sponge. Not what I'd expect from Beech! I poked the end of my saw into the bole of the tree, and it crumbled. Drat!! Those were some nice burls.

This week's Trace Fork tour ends with one of my favorite sites, Devil's Tea Table. It is a very steep hike to get there, either from the top or the bottom of the canyon. When I was a kid, I was told tales of kids who had died falling from the rocks. I wonder now if those stories were merely meant to deter me from trying to scale the rocks. As if!! Enjoy:

Photobucket
 

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What a difference a week makes

A week ago last Saturday, my son and I went hiking down in the canyon. It was quite windy and cold when we started, but by the time we'd hiked a couple of hours, we shed our jackets as the wind died and the sky cleared. My son helped me find some more branches for carving, and we found a small Hornbeam that had recently been taken out by a storm, and I cut a piece to take home for carving. This is my first experience working with Hornbeam, and peeling the bark reminded me of peeling a cucumber - it even has a similar smell.

The Hornbeam was at the bottom of the canyon, where we encountered this. You could have easily kayaked the entire 9 mile length of the creek:

Photobucket

Little Creek Park was more like Little River Park that week, but I've actually seen the creek much higher. Remember the saying "God watches over children and fools"? Well, I guess I was both as a kid, because I remember wading the creek when it looked like this, but was above my waist! I guess it wasn't my time to go, because I know of local incidents where people have drowned in only 2 feet of fast moving water. Time has definitely changed me, because I was getting quite antsy when my 17 year old son got a little too close to the edge of the bank.

My son was at camp this week, so I returned to the same spot alone to get some more Hornbeam. Not only did I get a couple of nice branches for carving, but I got these photos:

Photobucket

Photobucket

The creek was crystal clear and beautiful. I have fished this hole many times. The fish are small, but voracious and plentiful:

Photobucket

I'm to the point now that I'm running out of room for the branches I have drying for next year. I have plenty of Oaks, Beech, and Ash, and added the Hornbeam sticks this weekend. My experiments with year-old Hemlock and Redbud were not very satisfactory, so I pitched them. I'm still looking for new species to try. I only collect from fallen trees, which are plentiful in the canyon, but the majority of the ones that I find are Oak or Beech. I did find a large Beech that had been struck by lightning seemingly decades ago. The standing portion was about 10' tall, and had two large burls barely within reach. I suspected the tree was rotten, and when I started to cut around one of the burls, it felt like cutting a dry sponge. Not what I'd expect from Beech! I poked the end of my saw into the bole of the tree, and it crumbled. Drat!! Those were some nice burls.

This week's Trace Fork tour ends with one of my favorite sites, Devil's Tea Table. It is a very steep hike to get there, either from the top or the bottom of the canyon. When I was a kid, I was told tales of kids who had died falling from the rocks. I wonder now if those stories were merely meant to deter me from trying to scale the rocks. As if!! Enjoy:

Photobucket
What a great adventure! As a hiker myself I love bringing home "souvenir" twigs. I saw some storm-broken bent birch trees on my last hike that I'm still kicking myself for not bringing home. But they were very long and sure to be noticed if a ranger had come upon me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Lessons in humility

In another blog entry yesterday, I spoke of finding a small Cucumbertree specimen that had been taken out by storm damage. It was quite a difficult process identifying that tree, and I'm still only about 95% certain I'm correct. I have half a dozen or so references I use, and I try to work systematically, eliminating possible choices at each step. However, nature is very diverse, and plant taxonomy is both a science and a black art. I have been fooled before by variations in a species. Case in point: a few months ago, I discovered a medium size tree lying against the slope of a steep ravine. Though fallen, it was still very much alive. The trunk had an "S" bend that reminds me of an Anaconda every time I look at the tree. Take a look:

Photobucket

Photobucket

I have been studying the tree since the first leaf buds appeared. All the clues seemed to point to Black Cherry, but the following items led me to conclude it was a different member of the genus Prunus:

1) Every other Black Cherry I've seen had a thick, straight trunk near the bottom.
2) The leaves of this specimen are much more ovoid than any other Black Cherry I've seen.
3) Every other Black Cherry I've seen around here has bloomed, and the berries are now growing. This specimen still has not bloomed, and I check it frequently.

I sent the above photos to a university Dendrologist, and he said it was indeed Black Cherry. Like I said in another post, I still have a LOT to learn.

Another example: I have seen several Northern Catalpa trees along the nearby interstate. They are now blooming, and the large white flowers and arrowhead-shaped leaves are easy to distinguish, even at 70 mph. However, I have a Catalpa in my back yard. The leaves are fully formed, but the flowers are barely beginning to peek out from their buds. I expect it will be at least a few more days before the flowers are at peak. Nature's diversity really has a humbling effect, at least on me.

I have a placard on my desk at work that reads "Life is a terminal illness with a mortality rate of 100%". I get a lot of raised eyebrows and comments about morbidity, but I actually find the thought liberating. I made the placard as a reminder to myself to remain humble and enjoy each day as it comes, since we're all only one heartbeat away from meeting our Creator. I spent far too many years fretting over past mistakes and wrong paths taken. It took far too long for me to learn to just make the most of each day, letting go of the past and not worrying about what might happen tomorrow. I am sleeping MUCH better these days. I'm trying to teach that to our teenagers, but being kids, they'll have to figure it out themselves. I just hope it doesn't take THEM 30 years to get it.

Tony

PS: The other side of that placard reads "Rule #1: Don't sweat the small stuff. Rule #2: It's ALL small stuff!"
 

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Lessons in humility

In another blog entry yesterday, I spoke of finding a small Cucumbertree specimen that had been taken out by storm damage. It was quite a difficult process identifying that tree, and I'm still only about 95% certain I'm correct. I have half a dozen or so references I use, and I try to work systematically, eliminating possible choices at each step. However, nature is very diverse, and plant taxonomy is both a science and a black art. I have been fooled before by variations in a species. Case in point: a few months ago, I discovered a medium size tree lying against the slope of a steep ravine. Though fallen, it was still very much alive. The trunk had an "S" bend that reminds me of an Anaconda every time I look at the tree. Take a look:

Photobucket

Photobucket

I have been studying the tree since the first leaf buds appeared. All the clues seemed to point to Black Cherry, but the following items led me to conclude it was a different member of the genus Prunus:

1) Every other Black Cherry I've seen had a thick, straight trunk near the bottom.
2) The leaves of this specimen are much more ovoid than any other Black Cherry I've seen.
3) Every other Black Cherry I've seen around here has bloomed, and the berries are now growing. This specimen still has not bloomed, and I check it frequently.

I sent the above photos to a university Dendrologist, and he said it was indeed Black Cherry. Like I said in another post, I still have a LOT to learn.

Another example: I have seen several Northern Catalpa trees along the nearby interstate. They are now blooming, and the large white flowers and arrowhead-shaped leaves are easy to distinguish, even at 70 mph. However, I have a Catalpa in my back yard. The leaves are fully formed, but the flowers are barely beginning to peek out from their buds. I expect it will be at least a few more days before the flowers are at peak. Nature's diversity really has a humbling effect, at least on me.

I have a placard on my desk at work that reads "Life is a terminal illness with a mortality rate of 100%". I get a lot of raised eyebrows and comments about morbidity, but I actually find the thought liberating. I made the placard as a reminder to myself to remain humble and enjoy each day as it comes, since we're all only one heartbeat away from meeting our Creator. I spent far too many years fretting over past mistakes and wrong paths taken. It took far too long for me to learn to just make the most of each day, letting go of the past and not worrying about what might happen tomorrow. I am sleeping MUCH better these days. I'm trying to teach that to our teenagers, but being kids, they'll have to figure it out themselves. I just hope it doesn't take THEM 30 years to get it.

Tony

PS: The other side of that placard reads "Rule #1: Don't sweat the small stuff. Rule #2: It's ALL small stuff!"
Wvoldguy. You spoke of Catalpa. here in Oregon Catalpa is not a native species. There are a few that are grown for beauty. I was lucky enough to aquire some Catalpa lumber a few years ago. It is golden and sparkles. with a clear finish it looks like you can see into it. I would realy like to have a couple of hundred board feet more but do not expect to get it. People from back east have a lot more choice on nice hardwoods than we do here on the west coast. I enjor your studys.
 

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Lessons in humility

In another blog entry yesterday, I spoke of finding a small Cucumbertree specimen that had been taken out by storm damage. It was quite a difficult process identifying that tree, and I'm still only about 95% certain I'm correct. I have half a dozen or so references I use, and I try to work systematically, eliminating possible choices at each step. However, nature is very diverse, and plant taxonomy is both a science and a black art. I have been fooled before by variations in a species. Case in point: a few months ago, I discovered a medium size tree lying against the slope of a steep ravine. Though fallen, it was still very much alive. The trunk had an "S" bend that reminds me of an Anaconda every time I look at the tree. Take a look:

Photobucket

Photobucket

I have been studying the tree since the first leaf buds appeared. All the clues seemed to point to Black Cherry, but the following items led me to conclude it was a different member of the genus Prunus:

1) Every other Black Cherry I've seen had a thick, straight trunk near the bottom.
2) The leaves of this specimen are much more ovoid than any other Black Cherry I've seen.
3) Every other Black Cherry I've seen around here has bloomed, and the berries are now growing. This specimen still has not bloomed, and I check it frequently.

I sent the above photos to a university Dendrologist, and he said it was indeed Black Cherry. Like I said in another post, I still have a LOT to learn.

Another example: I have seen several Northern Catalpa trees along the nearby interstate. They are now blooming, and the large white flowers and arrowhead-shaped leaves are easy to distinguish, even at 70 mph. However, I have a Catalpa in my back yard. The leaves are fully formed, but the flowers are barely beginning to peek out from their buds. I expect it will be at least a few more days before the flowers are at peak. Nature's diversity really has a humbling effect, at least on me.

I have a placard on my desk at work that reads "Life is a terminal illness with a mortality rate of 100%". I get a lot of raised eyebrows and comments about morbidity, but I actually find the thought liberating. I made the placard as a reminder to myself to remain humble and enjoy each day as it comes, since we're all only one heartbeat away from meeting our Creator. I spent far too many years fretting over past mistakes and wrong paths taken. It took far too long for me to learn to just make the most of each day, letting go of the past and not worrying about what might happen tomorrow. I am sleeping MUCH better these days. I'm trying to teach that to our teenagers, but being kids, they'll have to figure it out themselves. I just hope it doesn't take THEM 30 years to get it.

Tony

PS: The other side of that placard reads "Rule #1: Don't sweat the small stuff. Rule #2: It's ALL small stuff!"
Better you Identifying tree than me I have trouble with some of the most common trees unless they have been milled
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Any professional botanists in the crowd?

In a recent blog entry, I stated I was about 95% sure a tree I came across was Cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata). Well I'm now 100% certain…that I was wrong. After further study, I am now certain that it is NOT Cucumbertree. So, the photos go back into my digital library of unknown specimens.

Tomorrow morning, I head back into the wet forests for further study. The learning curve continues, and I am having so much fun!
 

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Any professional botanists in the crowd?

In a recent blog entry, I stated I was about 95% sure a tree I came across was Cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata). Well I'm now 100% certain…that I was wrong. After further study, I am now certain that it is NOT Cucumbertree. So, the photos go back into my digital library of unknown specimens.

Tomorrow morning, I head back into the wet forests for further study. The learning curve continues, and I am having so much fun!
Trial and error is the way we've learned every since we came out of the trees (or the Garden). It sounds like you're having fun trying to find the answer. Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Any professional botanists in the crowd?

In a recent blog entry, I stated I was about 95% sure a tree I came across was Cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata). Well I'm now 100% certain…that I was wrong. After further study, I am now certain that it is NOT Cucumbertree. So, the photos go back into my digital library of unknown specimens.

Tomorrow morning, I head back into the wet forests for further study. The learning curve continues, and I am having so much fun!
Well, I was wrong when I said I was wrong!! The tree is indeed Cucumbertree. I went back and found that tree this weekend, and took my 20x pocket magnifier. I studied the end buds and the bundle scars, I sliced open a twig and studied the pith, and the conclusion was…don't jump to conclusions! This is twice now I've followed the clues to identify a species, then changed my mind due to variations, only to later find out my original identification was correct. Again, I am humbled by the vast complexity of nature.
 

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Any professional botanists in the crowd?

In a recent blog entry, I stated I was about 95% sure a tree I came across was Cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata). Well I'm now 100% certain…that I was wrong. After further study, I am now certain that it is NOT Cucumbertree. So, the photos go back into my digital library of unknown specimens.

Tomorrow morning, I head back into the wet forests for further study. The learning curve continues, and I am having so much fun!
Could be a pickle tree. Which is a close relative of the cucumber tree. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
After the flood, and a correction

I spent the entire week eagerly anticipating a return to the forest. By 0730 Saturday, I was on the trails, and didn't return to my car until nearly 2:00 pm. Crawling up and down some pretty steep trails was exhilarating, but I was pretty sore this morning, even with as much as I hike. I tend to forget I'm not a teenager any more.

I have seen Trace Fork pretty high before, and even a creek as small as it usually is carries a lot of debris at flood stage. A few weeks ago, I found a large, freshly cut log lying in the middle of the stream bed. The log was about 6' long and about 18" in diameter. There were no cut trees around, and no sign it could have been rolled from higher up the canyon walls. I concluded it must have been carried from farther upstream during recent high waters. I found the log again this week - at least 1/2 mile farther downstream. This time, it had been deposited up on the creek bank:

Photobucket

Photobucket

What is even more chilling to me are the signs I found a few hundred yards farther downstream (away from the viewer in the pictures above). Based on matted, mud-covered vegetation and debris deposited along the trail, Trace Fork would have been at least 6' deep - in a place where you can usually cross the creek without getting wet above your ankles! I don't know about you, but I find that frightening. Trace Fork joins Davis Creek, and there were some neighborhoods along Davis Creek that were flooded last week.

A taxonomic update:

In a different blog entry, I identified this tree as Cucumbertree, then came back and said it wasn't. Well, I was wrong when I said I was wrong!! The tree is indeed Cucumbertree. I went back and found that same tree this weekend, and took my 20x pocket magnifier. I studied the end buds and the bundle scars, I sliced open a twig and studied the pith, and the conclusion was…don't jump to conclusions! This is twice now I've followed the clues to identify a species, then changed my mind due to variations, only to later find out my original identification was correct. Again, I am humbled by the vast complexity of nature.

Tony
 
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