By mid-morning on a snappy early-December day, Jared Lockwood, Arnie Paye, and I were leaving a warm vehicle and trudging off into unfamiliar woods in part of the Monroe State Forest near the Vermont border in Massachusetts. Our mission was to locate and explore an old hemlock stand described to us by friend and old-growth forest expert Bob Leverett, to evaluate its potential inclusion in an old-growth forest documentary film.
First, Old Growth Hemlocks
|Small, but older hemlocks|
Unaware that there was a trail nearby we could have followed, we instead plunged into thick forest and bushwhacked our way across a steep slope, enveloped in both sun and snow flurries. It quickly became evident that this was an older forest than the typical second growth woods so common in this region. Hemlocks were tipping us off to that fact with their rugged, aging bark. They weren't the largest diameter hemlocks to be found in this forest, yet their bark, trunk, and limb characteristics were clues to their advanced age, likely 200 or more years in many cases.
|A hemlock soon to be downed by wind?|
One old hemlock we encountered will soon be hugging the ground, judging by a huge crack in its trunk. It's hard to imagine it surviving the winds and snow loads of another winter.