Copyright 2009 - 2015 by Mario Vaden
This page is reduced to the most essential facts or comments that provide a history or interesting conversation about this redwood. Latest updates often added at end of page
Updated January 29, 2015
Hyperion coast redwood was discovered August 25, 2006 by Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor. It is the tallest known of all plant species in the world. The 2012 measurement was 115.66m or 379.46' high, 15.2' diameter at dbh or 4.5' above average grade.
It is mostly a single stem redwood with very slight fire charring on parts of the trunk. In many ways it fits a stereotypical look for Sequoia sempervirens. The stem length on the low side is 386 feet. The location is a hillside above a small tributary of Redwood National Park.
Around August 26, 2006, forest expert Dr. Robert VanPelt referred to this redwood as "unnamed", and also wrote "The most significant year in tree height measuring just joined the ranks of years like 1066, 1492, etc."
The specific facts available for Hyperion are limited ... the location hidden enough that nobody outside the tree community found it for at least 3 years at one point in time.
During the first climb, shown by National Geographic,, researcher Steve Sillett said the foliage near the top was not as reduced in size as expected. The needles still had some "expansion". Indicating the potential for greater height surpassing the 380 ft. range.
Although planes flew over redwood parks for LiDAR, there may be a chance of a taller redwood. A small chance. But parts of Redwood National Park were not flown over for LiDAR.
Helios, the 2nd tallest has grown more vigorous, is better protected, and far less documented. Measurements for Helios were conservative. It may be inches from a tie. Redwoods can trade places for tallest.
The photo here is the coast redwood Hyperion. Because the image is rare, fair use is not applicable. There should be a small pic you can use for blogs etc., pre-approved if you visit the image use page and read instructions.
There is not any single way to approach this tallest redwood in the world, located uphill from one of the many creeks and brooks. The largest waterway is Redwood Creek with Prairie Creek as largest tributary. Lost Man Creek forms a confluence 12,000 feet upstream as another RNP tributary. Among this web of waterways and slopes, seekers choose routes they deem promising to find this Coast Redwood.
When I first found this redwood, my route involved walking through water deeper than my waist. It ends-up that immersing in waist-deep water was not essential. I could get there without so much as stepping in an inch of water if I picked my steps carefully.
My favorite story by others is a 2007 / Above and Beyond by Clynes. If still online, see ... Above and Beyond Article. The narrative sounds as if they picked Redwood Creek trailhead close to Orick. That article opens weighing options in hours and pints of blood. Their first search party had a 75% casualty rate for injuries the first day. It ends with appreciation for the entire forest. I found some interesting quirks comparing Preston's book with Clynes story.
Several others looking in later years also shared bleeding.
Image to right: my photography assistant with Canon camera, at the base of the trunk. Spring 2014. It was unusually warm ... about 80 degrees .
Attempts were made by others up Emerald Creek, Tom McDonald Creek and Forty Four Creek because of speculative guesses at some websites. Several folks went to those with no success. A handful returned to other parts of the park.
Hyperion was described in a book as being in remote part of Redwood National Park on a hillside in the south end of the park. Because the park is not neatly sliced into north or south on maps the description is vague. Especially since Prairie Creek is occassionally included generically.
With new super tall redwoods found recently and the shroud of mystery around this location, some folks wonder if Hyperion is still the tallest in the world.
Some new finds are not being named. But it should be tallest ..... 99.99% certain.
The only certain clue is actually finding Hyperion.
Helios is so close in diameter and height, someone could mistake it for Hyperion. In the near future, Hyperion may not be the tallest.
In 2011, Michael Taylor wrote "Helios is on pace to hit 380' on or about 2017. Hyperion is on pace to break the 380' barrier about the same time. Hyperion's growth was about 1 inch per year." Helios is faster growing of the two.
What a novice would do about Hyperion, even with a laser, I do not know.
Michael Taylor once wrote to some folks of the Eastern Native Tree Society, that one would "literally" need to get like a mile away to hit the central leader clearly.
In a few years, the handful who may have located what was the world's tallest, may no longer have seen the tallest. And if they thought clues for Hyperion were rare ... Helios will confound them, because clues are almost non-existent. The hunt may boil-down to less than the photo to the right on Helios' bark. Those are burn marks on Helios, up the trunk. One small fire scar is shaped like a Megaladon or Great White Shark tooth.
Various people expressed interest in Hyperion, assuming it is upslope of a named creek. Redwood National Park has at least 40 miles of named creeks. Add to that countless seasonal brooks with no names. That's 80 miles of slopes when both sides are combined.
This area was also nicknamed Fog Valley in a book by Richard Preston, describing Steve Sillett and Michael Taylor heading downstream into the rugged region. Compare that writing by Preston with the chapter Michael Taylor's Dream where the climbing expedition went upstream. So it says.
Tags on redwoods are not useful for verification. Between canopy researchers and other studies, there are reams of tags.
Tags for some redwoods are across valleys on trunks of other Redwoods or Douglas Firs, where the window was open to use a laser toward the opposite side of the valley. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of tags multiplied.
Bent foliage means next to nothing these days because there have been successive years of groups wandering all over the place in Redwood National Park.
It seems that many apparent clues for Hyperion are not much better than trial and error, because various clues are uncertain or have been twisted through narratives.
For any looking, keep a lookout for bears and mountain lions.
On my first discovery, there were scads of fresh bear footprints, claw marks and scat. One part of Hyperion Valley had a couple of Mountain Lion tracks.
Two links near the top of this page go to information about those animals found in Redwood National Park.
Earlier I mentioned tags and measuring. Here is a diagram about mearuing a redwood from one side of the valley to another. Crossing and measuring can take hours.
How far up a creek is old growth redwood?
There is no rule of thumb how far up a creek one can bushwhack to find old growth. In some valleys it begins almost right away. In other places like Bridge Creek it happens miles later.
The image shows the upper region of a creek in Redwood National Park.
Every so often, I find myself rereading the Above and Beyond article by Clynes, Clynes wrote:
"We thought we had been in big-tree country before, but as we walked farther into the grove, we realized that we had now entered a new realm. All around us, 20-foot-wide trunks rose in great grooved columns"
If that is correct, the description does not sound like the "right place" stated by Atkins (discoverer) in the article. Also, compare Clynes description to the "stumps ten to fifteen feet across" and "beanpoles" mentioned by author Preston.
It has been suspected by a few, that discovererss, researchers and park staff laid an elaborate web of false clues. I will not confirm or deny that theory, but keep in mind a few Grove of Titans clues were backwards.
Because if it were true, searchers would be drawn continually into a modern redwood version of Greek mythology: the legend of Sisyphus and his impossible task.
The free bone
About the only clue that can be offered, is the fact that at least one existing Hyperion clues is wrong or out of whack. Typo, mis-statement, figure of speech which appears literal, or a mix-up about locations and boundaries.
That "bone" does open your mind to huge possibilities far exceeding what you may have expected.
Image: cleaning lens in Redwood National Park. Same day my photography assistant, above, helped me get some more recent images
"Keyhole in the Landscape"
Richard Preston wrote of a keyhole in the landscape, leading to Hyperion Valley. For years, it made no sense.
Fairly recently, in that vicinity, I photographed what I believe to be the the passageway written about.
Maybe you walked right by Hyperion?
I wonder how many people have walked right by Hyperion, and missed it.
Ever read my Godwood Creek Giant page? That redwood should have been a gimme. I probably passed it a dozen times. About 6 misses specifically looking for it.
So it wouldn't surprise me if some have literally gazed at the trunk or canopy and simply moved along on their journey.
And the crazy part, is Godwood Creek Giant sits in plain sight.
November 9, 2014 update
FYI ... let us etch in stone that this page is presented to keep the subject interesting ... and not some form of head start. Content written is meant to trigger decision-making ... to lead people deeper into the think-tank of redwood country. Best I know, this page has been and remains 100% true-to-fact. Sometimes the accuracy is not realized until years later.
November 12, 2014 update
I recall several seekers of past years looking for all 3 tallest Coast Redwoods, or more. Their trio being Hyperion, Helios and Icarus as 1st, 2nd and 3rd tallest. But the undercurrent I checked a few months ago have a different trio. At least in 2014, its not accurate to believe Redwood National Park has the 3 tallest Coast Redwoods
Nov. 21 - Dec. 1, 2014 update
Recently, a woman at one of the redwood park visitor centers ended a conversation, claiming I "mislead" people. Let me skip whether she was a ranger or volunteer.
I think others misled themselves or drew wrong conclusions and she formed an opinion built on limited feedback. Or her own opinion for whatever reason. But the fact remains that this page is 100% accurate, excepting typo. She will lack the entire scope of my interaction online and the redwood coast. There's much that has never been divulged. For example ... negotiations with a group that constrained them to remove maps to certain special redwoods. That gained years of reduced wear & tear. It was evident behind-the-scenes that parks management had no cards to play. One of the group was the ring-leader. The others family who did not support the final outcome of the bushwhack, eventually hiding behind anonymous names as pride left their story.
The particular woman and a few others lack insight for other doings and people networking. Not a sneaky network. Just a quiet one. There were plenty of silent benefits for some Coast Redwoods. A new note on my Grove of Titans page may be of interest. If people take take facts or statements here and assemble their own inaccurate assumptions about unknowns, that is their responsibility. From this page, I think people can only mislead themselves if they take something and make it into more than exactly what it really is.
Not sure about the parks in general, but several people out there do not like this Hyperion page online. They think it adds celebrity status. But, reality is that Redwood National Parks allowing National Geographic with Save the Redwoods League to document and release the climbing of Hyperion, etched celebrity status in stone permanently. Add Preston's best-selling book. Heap on that mountain countless web pages. Most people should realize this. But a few have not coped with it. My page is inconsequential, like adding a bucket of water to one of the lagoons near Prairie Creek. There may be one difference in my "one bucket". Ever see the old Ten Commandments movie ... when the rod touched the water and changed the color? I think that's what my little bucket does. It does not make people more aware of Hyperion as much as it changes the color of the conversation.
My online interaction was different ... helping buffer unique Coast Redwoods. Over the years, instead of adding to the edifice of clues, we dismantled parts. For example ... 1. Richard Preston used to have a certain photo on his website. Not any more. 2. A certain man from the top tier of Save the Redwoods League used to have certain photos online ... not any more. 3. Etc.. .... a few others helped get changes made, clues dismantled. I understand you may appreciated finding those. But any who appreciate these redwoods probably understand certain things remaining in the closet.
On another note, a few others and probably some rangers raise eyebrows that a few folks accompanied me around some largest coast redwoods like El Viejo, Arco Giant, etc.. They imagine it may account for increased wear they noticed. Actually, we did not cause wear that anyone could literally point to and show something changed. Some of the redwoods already had tiny paths and we utilized those adhering to the use established trails philosophy. For several years consecutive, I could return the following season and never know we had been there. Virtually no trace visits. The faint paths even healed-over some. So what happened?
Just one or two people started a domino-effect, enabling uncareful people to get into pristine groves. They wore it one frond and sorrel leaf at a time. A few were like a bull in a china shop climbing high on trunks and dislodging plants. That's what triggers wear & tear. That's the difference between teaching a few people to move surgically without a trace vs. others enabling the rank and file to invade areas uneducated and haphazard.
January 11, 2015 update
Reports about "rangers" giving clues ...
Take this as reports rather than documentation. I had a conversation with a couple of rangers regarding emails I got and face-to-face reports about "rangers" dropping location hints for Hyperion and certain groves. Over a span of years I received about 10 emails from people saying they got pointed to locations, with Atlas Grove most often mentioned. Each message wrote "ranger" although it may mean someone else like visitor center volunteer. I heard 2nd-hand of hints by a "ranger" for vicinity of Hyperion. 2nd-hand conversations put together with 1st-hand emails from the actual seekers leave me certain the reports can have some credibility.
The rangers claimed nobody from their office would do that. Also, I think they wondered why I give a hoot since they noticed my photos near largest redwoods with others. Here's why it matters ......... If rangers decide to reveal locations for some redwoods to responsible people, I don't have a big issue with that. But if I find an exceptional specimen and directions are revealed, that's different. I was issued a permit for 2014, and a report is requested to go with it. So I relayed to someone in the parks system what I heard ... no sender names .. just context. My concern was more looking forward in time regarding new discoveries. Plurality of emails plus face-to-face chit chat seemed to justify expressiong concern.
PART II of rangers & clues ... January 16. 2015 update
Some reports are second-hand, but refer to people I have communicated with first-hand. I am 98% certain if I pry deeper, the answer will prove the feedback is accurate. There is just too much preponderance. ... if you are a ranger or volunteer and your supervisor approves, I could support that decision if you feel that's the right thing to do. But if someone leaks locations for new discoveries I submitted January 2015 in a report ... that's an different ballgame.
Even the past few days, more emails arrived telling me what I shared here is a fact. Now it has me wondering if the woman I mentioned in another update may be somehow related, and if that accounts for the attitude. That thought is strongly speculative ... but it was a question that came to mind.
The nature of this concern probably spread through the broader network of redwood enthusiasts: whether explorers, researchers or business folks.
To rangers who told me they are not giving hints ... I take you at your word. But ask that you find a way to learn if leaks are coming from your visitor center or another visitor center.
Thank you !!
January 17, 2015 update
RE image file names
I'm aware people try to read image file names of redwoods I post online. This page, other pages, forums, etc.. For Hyperion and various other Coast Redwoods. For that reason, files names can take on any form or name, possibly as unrelated as Africa. File names are not page visuals or design, but just for my reference. So if people are trying to use file names for clues, it could backfire. They are not narrative ... but filing reference. This came to light the past few days in regards to one of the new largest finds. But I've tweaked file names for years.
December 25, 2014
The lingering question.... who is the photo assistant ... a few inquired ...
... for now, say "Jen" ... one who inspired redwood photos with dresses worn by Kiera from Crescent City. Kiera is into pose. But Jen also enjoys image adjusting, video and editing. Jenni is her stage name. Our first shoots were in Eureka and Humboldt redwoods. At the time she worked locally as a dancer and modeled part time. The world's tallest maple was named Humboldt Honey after a photo of her taken near Koster St.. There were also several Redwood Coast photo sessions with her friend Lotus. Those set the foundation of my redwood portraiture and fine art photography displayed at the redwood coast: some in motels, restaurants, gallery, magazine cover, and as distant as Denmark.
To spare Jen getting inquiries about redwood locations, her specifics are on hold. Maybe like the shark tooth mark on Helios, we can keep things interesting and at least share that likewise she has a scar. In her teens, she scratched love and hate on her thighs.
The scar serves as an example. Some changes are near permanent. And if we relate this to redwoods ... say something alters their appearance, the change can be long lasting or permanent. Like initials carved in trunks, even ground cover plants worn-away. Jen hangs out at coffee shops and if you get a rare glmpse of the scar, you may realize who she is. But she's sworn to secrecy.