Copyright 2009 - 2014 by Mario Vaden
Note ... September 2014, this page was reduced to the most essential facts or comments that provide a history for this redwood or the discoverers.. Latest at end.
Last text update November, 2014.
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.
E-mail trip reports
People send messages about their quest. So far, others have explored upwards of 1 to 2 miles up creeks including Bond Creek, Forty Four Creek, Bridge Creek, Tom McDonald Creek, Bridge Creek, Lost Man Creek, Emerald Creek, part of Redwood Creek and part or Devil's Creek. Every one provided a journey without finding Hyperion.
Image to left: is a Mountain lion track at 'Cougar Flat'
What seemed the most solid clue, was found after locating Hyperion. But it only stood out as a clue on account of having found Lost Monarch.
The clue reminds me of the movie The Matrix, where passage through some door or opening, completely depends on one particular character.
My theory was if someone found Lost Monarch first, they may be able to figure out Hyperion via one clue.
Eventually I decided the ultimate clue could act like a double-edged sword.
Image right: Broken elbow of a man who explored off-trail some time after the release of Preston's redwood book ... hoping to score a find. Image from H. Llewellyn - used with permission
Old-Growth is slim pickins past Devil's Creek which has a lot of old redwoods and itself covers an extensive area.
Seekers are few
Compared to hikers, seekers are a drop in the bucket. That may boil down to a Youtube video. A climber of that redwood stated the trek in required a "4 mile plus" ordeal through "really rugged terrain". And the "lost little valley" is on the "edge" of the park.
Forty Four Creek falls a bit closer to a 4.5 mile walk from trail parking.
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 ... I want to etch in stone for you that this page presented to keep the subject interesting ... and not some form of head start.
I aim to get people to think. And written are 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 truth and accuracy is not realized until years later.
November 12, 2014 update ...
This is related to the several tallest. I recall several seekers of past years putting the 3 tallest Coast Redwoods in their sights ... looking for Hyperion, Helios and Icarus as 1st, 2nd and 3rd tallest.
But the stats I got a few months ago have a different trio listed. It is not accurate this autumn 2014, to say "Redwood National Park has the 3 tallest Coast Redwoods"
Nov. 21st - Dec. 1st, 2014 update ...
Recently, a woman at one of the redwood park visitor centers ended a conversation, saying I "mislead" people and would not continue dialogue. Let me skip whether she was a visitor, park ranger or volunteer, and just tackle her mind-set.
I think what happened, is others misled themselves or drew wrong conclusions and this woman got sucked-in to an opinion built on limited feedback. Or ... she read this page, and still formed her own opinion. Or ... another variation. But the fact remains that this page is 100% accurate,, excepting typo, etc..
This woman will lack the entire scope of my interaction online and at the redwood coast. And she's not alone. There's much that has never been divulged in part or in full.
For example ... how about negotiations with a certain group that constrained them to remove their maps leading to certain special redwoods? That gained years of greatly reduced wear & tear to certain areas. It was evident behind-the-scenes that the parks management had no cards to play in that game. One of the group we could call the "ring-leader" and the others family or friends, who themselves did not support the map posting. They were taken along for a "ride" of exploring with more than just fun at the end of the tunnel.
Back to the woman again ... her mind-set is limited because she like few others had no insight for a dozen other doings or people networking together. Not a sneaky network. Just one that occurs in another place. There were plenty behind-the-scenes benefits for some Coast Redwoods. But it was not out in the open or obvious.
If people take take facts or statements here, and assemble their own inaccurate assumptions about unknowns, that is their responsibility, not mine. From this page, I think people can only mislead themselves if they take something presented and make it into more than exactly what it really is. My end is merely building redwood content and sharing interesting photos, stories and tidbits.
Overlapping this update was a new note on my Grove of Titans page which may be of interest to a few.
Not sure about the parks in general, but I know several people out there do not like this Hyperion page being online. They think it adds celebrity status.
Know what I think?
I think that Redwood National Parks allowing National Geographic accompanied by Save the Redwoods League to document and release the climbing of Hyperion, etched celebrity status in stone permanently. So much so, that my page is inconsequential. Let alone the best-selling book by Richard Preston, sold in park visitor centers. The redwood is named on countless web pages and blogs.
Most people should realize this by now. But a few have not coped with it.
Some others like National Geographic (enabled by Redwood National Parks) and a few from Save the Redwoods League are those who set in motion an abundance or overabundance of visuals for Hyperion ... or Helios. Photos, video and information.
My online interaction seemed different ... helping to buffer unique Coast Redwoods. Over the years, instead of adding to some edifice of clues, I dismantled parts of it. Let me name a couple examples ...
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 in an album ... not any more.
Several others helped get some of these changes made, or clues dismantled.
I understand any of you seeking may have appreciated finding those. But any who appreciate these redwoods probably understand the benefits for certain things remaining in the closet. That's why a bunch of stuff is not online anymore. Various finders of Hyperion, etc., shared what they found, and how they arrived at their destinations, and agreed that some stuff was too obvious or unique. And that led to the dismantling of clues.
This page does not really add to the pot ... what the committed seeker will eventually gather. Those who have found Hyperion (or other redwoods) realize that.
You have probably seen Nat Geo's video showing Hyperion on Youtube, Nat Geo online or television ... viewed by the millions. That's why I added the single image on this page. Because the redwood's appearance was already released to the general public.
On another note, a few others, and probably a few rangers. raise eyebrows that a few people have accompanied me around some of the largest coast redwoods like El Viejo del Norte, Lost Monarch, Arco Giant, etc.. Thinking it may account for some increased wear & tear they noticed over some years.
Maybe it bothers them, but not me. Because we did not cause wear that anyone could literally point to and show something changed. Some of the redwoods had tiny paths and we utilized those adhering to the "use established trails " philosophy. With rare exception like the Prairie Creek picnic redwood, people in my photos are seen at the bottom of the trunk ... not climbing up high for a photo op.
But for at least 3 years running, I could return the same year or even following season and never know we had been there. Virtually "no trace" visits.
So what happened?
Just one or two people started a domino-effect, enabling other uncareful people to get into pristine groves. They wore it one frond at a time, and one sorrel leaf at a time. A few were like a bull in a china shop climbing high on Screaming Titans' trunk and disloding the attractive ferns on its face. Or like another whose backpack was shown laying on vegegation at Lost Monarch. That's the kind of sloppiness that triggers wear & tear.
That's the difference between teaching a few people to move without a trace ... versus others enabling the rank and file to invade areas almost uneducated.