Redwood National Park Tallest Redwood

Hyperion Redwood | World's Tallest

Redwood National and State Parks | 379.65 ft.

See information also about: Mountain Lions and Black Bears in Redwood National and State Parks

Continued from Coast Redwoods (see also for image use)

Copyright 2009 - 2014 by Mario Vaden ... Updated April 11, 2014

Hyperion coast redwood, discovered 2006 by Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor, is the tallest known in the world. 2012 measurement 115.66m or 379.65' / 115.72 m. high, 15.2' diameter dbh / 4.5' above grade. It is mostly a single stem redwood with very slight fire charring on parts of the trunk. In many ways it blends-in fitting a stereotypical look for Sequoia sempervirens. The stem length on the low side is 386 ft.. At 200' above ground (2006), it is almost 7' diameter.

It's first official measurement and climbing was September 16, 2006, by researchers Steve Sillett, Marie Antoinne, Jim Spickler, and author Richard Preston (Guinness Book of World Records includes Dr. Robert VanPelt). Accompanying were 3 Save the Redwoods League officials, Redwood National Parks Chief Ranger Pat Grediagin, discoverers Michael Taylor & Chris Atkins, and a television crew from National Geographic. After using a crossbow to set lines, Steve Sillett of Humboldt State University was the first to ascend. He started with the main line which reached almost 200 feet up, then left it behind and put to use what they referred to as a motion lanyard ... going branch by branch. Other climbers (Antoine 2nd, then Preston & Spickler 3rd & 4th) followed, performing tasks like tape wrapping the trunk at intervals to measure variation in diameter. Sillett found some holes from sapsucker holes, and it was only the 2nd redwood (to that point) in which Antoinne had found ants (these golden-brown) up in a canopy. Preston and Spicker ascended a very long 2nd rope, the middle of which was tied-off at 330' and both ends sent down to the ground. Then Preston and Spickler measured diameter every 5 metres up the long trunk. That was for scientists to calculate the wood volume ... 18,600 cu. ft.. The height was measured with a long tape and the circumferences (diameters) with another tape. The top few feet was measured using a telescoping metal rod.

When I viewed my own photo of the top more closely, taken later in 2008, it was remarkable how fast the last (top) 20' make a transition from like 10 inches diameter to just a couple of inches wide in the last few feet.



Been meaning to get more photos of Hyperion, and probably will in 2014. Almost photographed Kiera Hulsey (of Crescent City) next to it for size comparison in 2013 after doing Lost Monarch photos with her. Instead of heading deeper into Redwood National Park for Hyperion, we called a wrap with photos just part way up Lost Man Creek. May just end up using myself for scale next time, go the distance, and bring a red shirt.

Hyperion redwood is the tallest in the world

The specific facts available for Hyperion are not many. Basically those dimensions, the park, the discoverers, the year, comments in a book by author Preston, and a little extra like you can read and except from here. Although planes have flown over redwood parks for LiDAR, there may be a chance of a taller redwood existing. It would have to be a leaner to slope side, but there's still a chance. Also, it recently came to light that some sizeable parts of Redwood National Park were not flown over with LiDAR equipment.

Actually, Helios is the real top-secret redwood, because it's more vigorous, better protected, and far less documented in photos. Taylor said it would be no surprise if Hyperion fell in a few years, which is understandable in light of it's location. Also, measurements for Helios were done conservatively, excluding part of the lower trunk. So it is just inches from a tie. Redwoods can trade places for tallest, and even between 2007 and 2012, Icarus went from 3rd to 4th, trading places with Stratosphere Giant. And Nugget redwood, which was not listed in the top 50, shot up to 5th, passing Paradox, Lauralyn and Orion, which is 6th. Apparently Nugget (370.89 ft. / 2012) is putting on nearly a foot a year: at that rate, it could catch up with 1st, 2nd or 3rd in, say, fifteen years ...

Most of this page is extra commentary that may be of interest mostly to those who enjoy exploring for redwoods, especially for Hyperion. The content here is still leaps and bounds beyond Wikipedia, and is virtually the most true-to-fact page on Hyperion of resources that have lots of substance.

Bet the June 3, 2013 road closure to the TallTrees Grove hastened how quickly some people could get into the vicinity of Hyperion for almost a year. Because gating-off long stretches (7 miles) without question alters and shifts certain people's choice of region to explore, including mode of travel, etc.. It stands to reason that if one cannot invest time over "here", that they must invest time over "there". And travel "here" may be accomplished totally different from travel over "there".

Now that the gate reopened 2014, maybe the habits of the last couple years will return ... the habits that coincide with nobody finding the tallest coast redwood for 2 years (+).

Nobody has found Hyperion for at least 2 years. Hard to tell if photos by Moore or Taylor, have helped or hindered seekers. Searchers probably believed the world record redwood is in the vicinity of a clearcut. But those men's photos could leave hunters scrutinizing maps differently if they perceive Hyperion to be directly against a clearcut, with image shot new growth to old growth and clearcut on the downhill side.

The photo here is the coast redwood Hyperion. Because the image is so rare, fair use is not applicable. If you need to use a photo of it, please email. There should also be a small pic you can use for blogs etc., pre-approved if you visit the image use page and read instructions. Click this photo for a larger 600 x 1200 pixel view ...

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 is Redwood Creek, with Prairie Creek as its largest tributary. And Lost Man Creek forming a confluence 12,000 feet upstream as another RNP tributary.

When I first found this redwood, my route involved walking through water for quite a stretch, even deeper than my waist, and certain times of year a current could sweep someone away and push their body under boulders or logs. That was a little bit after 'Cougar Flat' where I spotted fresh Mountain Lion tracks. It ends-up that immersing in waist-deep water was not essential: just happened to be part of that particular day's route plan.


February 23, 2012, the BBC radio and website posted about a climb of Hyperion by James Aldred and Ben Jones. Reportedly this climb did not happen with a legal redwood climbing permit. If the reports are accurate this appears to be an illegal climb advertised on the internet with text, photos and audio. A third climber reportedly accompanied Aldred and Jones: possibly Brett Mifsud of Australia, or Grant Harris. This is to clarify that Michael Taylor listed as part of a "team" was not involved in an alleged illegal climbing group.


Bear claw marks in the Lost Man Creek Redwood National Park area near Hyperion

Presently, my favorite story of a search by other folks is a 2007 article called Above and Beyond by Clynes. If still online, see it here ... Above and Beyond Article. The narrative sounds as if they picked the Redwood Creek trail trailhead at the parking close to Orick. That redwood article opens with them weighing options in hours and pints of blood. Note that their first search party had a 75% casualty rate for minor or aggravated injuries after just the first day looking. It ends with appreciation for the entire forest experience in the end. Funny thing ... right now (31 days from 2013), years after searching for info and finding Hyperion myself, just found some interesting quirks comparing Preston's book with Clynes story (more about that below).

Actually, the rare few I know of who located this redwood all have one thing in common ... some bleeding. Broken bones are also shared by explorers, with one of the thrashings looking for Grove of Titans, and the other in Redwood National Park.


See X-ray image farther down page

The lastest finding I heard of, which took 3 entire years, was shared in a summary "rugged and intimidating -- steep hillsides, impenetrable overgrown thick plants and trees, thorny bushes which cut skin and draw blood, false forest floors that collapse into pits". The false forest floors are of huge concern and in 2011, ate one explorer's complete right leg with the left knee swelling from impacting too hard. The most intense pain though, seems to come to those who's shins kick wood spear tips of fallen logs hidden behind ferns and moss.


Image to right: several valleys have not been logged like this the entire length. With satellite images, you can see big crowns and groves up each valley where old growth remains in Redwood National Park.

Equipment can get hammered too. There's a laser rangefinder in RNP that a log jam permanently inhaled up one of the creeks: not mine. But I've fallen off logs twice onto my backpack (with camera inside), one log 7 feet high. That's why I use a padded camera pack now and don't take my best camera and lenses on the more brutal bushwhacks. One of potentially lethal hazards we don't flirt with, are the slick logs near streams, chasms and rocks. Sometimes the slick surface is evident, appearing smooth and wet. But other times not as spongy moss or bark that was gripping boot soles with friction suddenly glides apart from old wood beneath.

Several attempts have been made by others up tributaries like Emerald Creek, Tom McDonald Creek and Forty Four Creek, probably because of speculative guesses at some websites. But several folks have gone up those tributaries and definitely come back empty handed. A handful returned to other promising parts of the park, and eventually found this redwood.

Bear claw marks in the Lost Man Creek Redwood National Park area near Hyperion

Navigating Redwood National Park holds surprises. Summer of 2011, Chris Atkins was almost eaten and spit out by a Coast Redwood. It had a covered hollow on the uphill side of a slope, and Chris fell through but caught himself at the last moment. The cavity went clear through, and he saved himself from ejecting down the hill 100 feet into a boulder filled creek.


Image right: shows 'Vader Rock'. At this angle, the boulder looks ike the back of Darth Vader's helmet.

Hyperion, the tallest redwood (2009) 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 in references.

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 may be actually finding Hyperion. Which means measuring the trunk diameter and the height with a laser and coming within like 1 or 2 feet of it's 380 foot height. Helios is so close in diameter and height, someone could mistake it for Hyperion. In the near future, Hyperion may not be the tallest anyway. 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 is currenty about 1 inch per year." Helios is the faster growing of the two and is really the most closely guarded secret among the two coast redwoods.



What a novice would do about Hyperion, even with a laser, I do not know. Because 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.

Hyperion redwood is the tallest in the world

In a few years, the handful who may have located what was the world's tallest, will no longer have seen the tallest. And if they thought clues for Hyperion were rare ... Helios will confound them, because clues of substance 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 the redwood Helios, maybe 40 to 90 feet up the trunk. Forget exactly how high I pointed the camera, but it was up there a ways. One small fire scar is shaped like a Megaladon or Great White Shark tooth. If you ever scavenged those teeth on the east coast before, you understand. And the ones in the sand along the east coast states tend to turn black. The charcoal color fire mark is virtually a spitting image. And that is not the idiosyncrisy referred to on the Helios page. Remarkably, one of the very few who found Helios, one Steve Hall, did indeed spot this "shark tooth" mark, photographed it, and posted it to his tallest redwood findings page at panamintcity.com ... within his Death Valley Adventures site. Proof he found it, and proof this clue is spot-on factual.

Various people expressed interest in Hyperion, assuming it is upslope of a named creek. Redwood National Park has at least 40 miles of creeks: brooks added. That's 80 miles of slopes when both sides are combined. So that can leave a little bit of hunting territory for some people.

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. To reiterate that there is not a single approach, compare that writing by Preston, with the chapter Michael Taylor's Dream where the first climbing expedition went upstream: or up the valley.

In the same book, Preston introduced the use of tags on trees (like 3 peas in a pod). But tags on redwoods are not useful to seekers: not for verification. Between the canopy researchers and other studies, there are reams of tags and flagging tape. Not like litter. But there are plenty.

And the tags for some redwoods are across valleys on trunks of other Redwoods or Douglas Firs, where the window was open to a laser toward the opposite side of the valley. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of tags multiplied greatly. So finding tags or what looks like bent foliage won't mean diddly as of about 2009. Some of the LiDAR redwoods have double tags placed for measurement. Helios happens to be one of the redwoods for which a measuring window is across the valley on another slope, about a 20 to 30 minute bushwhack from the trunk. More like 2 hours if crossing over is for measuring. Even if someone stumbled upon that window and tag, they wouldn't know what the heck it was for.

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. Which really is no problem, because it makes every day a new adventure for hunters.

Not very far from Hyperion were scads of fresh bear footprints, claw marks and scat. One part of Hyperion Valley had a couple of Mountain Lion tracks. But I did not see any of those animals in the area. And that was fine with me. They can leap vertically like 16 feet. The bushwhack and various water water crossings were plenty of challenge at is was.

Here is a diagram referring to earlier comments about having to measure a redwood from one side of the valley to another. Heavy vegetation, log-choked streams and obstacles must be added with your imagination.

Old growth areas up Bridge Creek in Redwood National Park

E-mail trip reports

To date, over a dozen folks have sent messages about their quest, providing a glimpse into what's running through their heads.

Mountain Lion Track in Prairie Creek near Redwood National Park

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, and parts of Redwood Creek, and part or Devil's Creek. Other too, but those are what I recall. Every one of those creeks has provided a journey without a Hyperion find. The trip reports show that the typical seeker sets sights on named creeks first, rather than smaller forks or tributaries, and rarely north of Bald Hills Rd.. The lookers have sought with and without rangefinders. They tend to have many clues in common, but still end up all over the park. Their paths radiate outward from Redwood Creek, typically excluding it altogether ... and why they typiically altogether omit it as possibly being "Fog Canyon" is a mystery. If every potential clue written about hyperion was in-harmony 100%, I could buy that concensus. Maybe it's because Richard Preston, in his book, described the canyon as hard to enter on foot and that few if any had been there. So Redwood Creek trail could disqualify Redwood Creek to some minds. But the opposite shores and hillsides of Redwood Creek don't have trails. Nor does the river a ways upstream where it becomes very wild and hard to pass through. And so I wonder why virtually everyone starts looking everywhere else but Redwood Creek (as being Fog Canyon).


Image to right: is a Mountain lion track in the area. I found several fresh tracks like this at 'Cougar Flat' while exploring there.

The confidence that people place in clues, or how they interpret them, can be as far apart as The Federation and Klingons in Star Trek. Let me give one example. There's an image where a research scientist is up in Hyperion looking in some direction. Apparently there is mist or fog in the distance. A couple of folks shared that it had to be looking toward toward the ocean because that's where fog comes from. That premise is not correct.

I replied with a photo taken along the coast showing a foggy mist moving slowly down a hill toward the beach. In the redwoods, mist or fog can wander to and fro. With that so-called clue, if you even call it a clue, there is a 50/50 chance of being right or wrong.

Broken bone searching for Lost Monarch redwood
Image to the right: X-ray shows the broken & dislocated elbow of one man who explored off-trail for one of the largest known coast redwoods. Image from H. Llewellyn - used with permission

It's interesting to see how rumors spread, whether by emails, blogs or websites. If Bridge Creek is mentioned or overheard by one or two people, then all of a sudden it becomes the likely location. If Tom McArthur is mentioned, then it becomes the likely location. Likewise Devils' Creek or Bond Creek. Apparently people believe in a name if they see it in writing, or mentioned more than once.

It's worth noting that my photograph of Hyperion can be considered an anomaly. The exact view you see in the photograph above was never seen by the actual discoverers. An unseasonal gliche in the winter weather offered a short window in time to approach this redwood and see this much of it at one time. A photograph like this is not possible most of the Spring, Summer and Autumn, because foliage will block the view.

What seemed one of the of the most solid clues for my way of thinking, was found after locating Hyperion. The clue reminded me of the movie The Matrix, where passage through some door depends on one particular character. In theory, if someone found Lost Monarch first (which I did), I suspected they may be able to guess the vicinity of the world's tallest redwood via one piece of clue. Possibly even blurt out "holy crap, what else could that mean?". Likewise, finding El Viejo DN could potentially serve as what seemed (to me) an epitome of clues. Is it the "keyhole" that Preston wrote about? That I can't divulge. Provided the clue is there to be found, it involves a file, and activity of people. Can't share whether it's a PDF, JPG or Oregon saw chain file. Nor whether it's failed attempts, Masters thesis on redwood research, news article or other. But the one file could trigger the right response. (and yes, any quote online from any book is a "file"). When I first mentioned this, it seemed like a rock solid clue to the average person. Later I realized finding Hyperion may have tainted my opinion on reliability of this clue for some others. Maybe it's wiser to say there's potential, because it hit me it could be the worst clue if applied in other ways than I chose. This one clue has potential like the best and the worst of the Chutes and Ladders game. It could help you, or set back months of progress. Thought it fair to present both sides once I realizedl the double-edged sword nature of the clue ... Ever watch Indiana Jones? This clue reminds me of a trial ... enabled passage ... worked great for Indy ... but evidently the downfall for others.

Mossy Fern trunk in Hyperion Redwood Valley

That reminds me ... New Hope is not a clue. But that tall redwood in Jedediah Smith would have made great training wheels for seekers of the world's #1 tallest. If someone can't find New Hope, they may want to abandon the quest for Hyperion Coast Redwood. Because New Hope has practically been offered on a silver platter when it comes to tid-bits of information available.

Clear-cuts


This trunk in Hyperion "Fog Valley" is gorgeous. All decked-out in fronds and moss.

Ever wondered if clearcut is also a potential double-edge sword clue? I won't sway you one way or another here, except encourage thinking beyond preconceived ideas or imagination. There is a clearcut clue in the arena. For example, October 2006, in the New Yorker, Preston's article Tall for It's Age, mentioned the following ...

"Measuring by hand, he determined that Hyperion was 379.1 feet tall. Definitely the world's tallest tree. Seeing a nearby clear-cut, Sillett said, “I think the tree was less than two weeks from being cut down"

In a sfgate.com article, September 7, 2006, researcher George Koch was quoted with a variation "They aren't all that far from an old clear-cut,"

How many angles can we look at this? Start with #1 which is almost stereotypical ...

1. Was Silltett's estimation due to proximity as next in line to be felled ... a large tract of logging?

2. There are staging, handling and hoisting areas ... was the tallest redwood in the perfect or obvious spot for another staging area?

3. Logging roads must be cut, graded, etc.. This overlaps staging areas. There's still dozens hidden and growing-over in RNP. These can be hundreds of yards or miles long ... was the tallest redwood in the way of the most practical, or only place, a road could be cut?

See what I mean?

You may also find several statements from people about a "few hundred" feet". Did someone take out a laser and measure this so-called few hundred feet? Is it a measurement or a guess? A fact or a figure of speech? Because some people call 1/4 or 1/8 mile a few hundred feet, yards, or meters) and other folks mean literally. You may want to spend time and write down each possibility you can think of, then rate or prioritize them.

Ask yourself why you believe the clearcut clue, if you have been believing it. Since it's crystal clear that one or more statements about Hyperion seem out of whack, this question needs to be asked for anything. Why do I take this at face value?

This reminds me of when Preston wrote about Adventure in his 2006 best-selling book. In the chapter "Fire Caves of Adventure" his description of bushwhacking can lead the imagination to think of something akin to an African Safari. When I finally found Adventure one day, I realized it was not a full several hours like I envisioned.

How formiddable is the task? How many tall redwoods are there to sort through?

If you plan to ascertain a potential find of Hyperion with a laser rangefinder, this screen capture may offer some insight.

LiDAR coast redwoods map

That is a sliver of Redwood National Park showing the proximity and density of Coast Redwoods over 340 feet considered LiDAR redwoods. Any redwood over 300 feet tall can look like a 380 foot tall redwood. And it takes time fo find the windows through which to aim and measure, and time to meander from window to the trunk to average high and low grade.

The distances I added show how far apart a few redwoods are, and you can conjecuture for yourself the small area within the entire image. Or for that matter ... how close. You can see within just a few football fields worth of space, there are 10 super tall coast redwoods. And it's correct to logically assume they are packed within other coast redwoods in the 280' to 339' range.

To ascertain, any photo you see is merely an assumption or taking it on faith ... even my own. You do realize there is more than one redwood in my photo, don't you? So an accurate laser measurement is virtually the only rock solid way for you to ascertain a redwood of the correct height. This may be very formidable for some.

Seekers are few

Compared to hikers, seekers are a drop in the bucket. That may boil down to one published clue ... in a Youtube video, a climber of that redwood, Spickler, stated that the trek required a "4 mile plus" ordeal through "really rugged terrain". And the "lost little valley" is on the "edge" of the park. Keep in mind that gate-access forest roads on the east side (and west) allow parking within 1.0 to 1.5 miles of Redwood Creek: even closer to upper reaches every creek from McArthur Creek to the lower confluence of Bridge Creek. Research climbers have access to gate keys and any old roads. Lost little valley connotes a notch valley of an unamed brook rather than a main named creek: or a connecting brook of a main creek. And "edge" describes somewhere other than down in the central bowl of the park. That mental image covers an expanse more vast than mid-Bridge Creek to Devils' Creek, and I think most people just lay low and enjoy the many miles of hiking trails.

Even Elam Creek is barely 2.5 miles from the big parking lot for Redwood Creek trail, and an easy cake-walk approach via gated roads, horse trails and hiking trails. Likewise for Emerald Creek, etc., etc.. The special access roads might have been impassable for parts of Cayote Creek, Harry Weir Creek, Cayote Creek and Copper Creek. A few roads have been reported somewhat worse or impassable farther east in the park. But Old-Growth is slim pickins past Devil's Creek which has a lot of old redwoods and itself covers an extensive area. Forty Four Creek falls a bit closer to a 4.5 mile walk from trail parking: provided one skipped using a forest road on the SW slopes of the park.

Maybe it's possible Spicker meant a round-trip of 2 miles (+) plus 2miles (+) for a 4 mile plus. These folks don't navigate the same way every time they explore.

 

How far up a creek can old growth coast redwood be found?

Old growth redwood groves in Redwood National Park home to Hyperion

There is no rule of thumb for how far up a creek one can bushwhack to find old growth. In some valleys it begins almost right away, then fizzles out, like up McArthur Creek. In other places, like Bridge Creek, there is hardly anything until several miles later. Then the valleys have some really big stuff. You would never realize this from a couple of trip reports where people went a mere mile up, but judged the entire area from that short distance. That's been confirmed by Michael Taylor as well as satellite images.

A way around that potential confusion is using Google Earth. It makes it relatively easy to tell the difference between old growth and new or second growth. And just one more way to test whether the trip report from another searcher is worth considering.

The old growth tops look bigger and more chunky. The younger stuff, logged areas, or Alder patches seem lighter color and smoother textured on the satellite image.

Images at right

The top image shows the upper region of a creek in Redwood National Park. Just one valley alone dotted with old growth is almost a mile long. The finer texture areas are the logged regions or Salmonberry in low spots.

Old growth areas up Bridge Creek in Redwood National Park

By zooming in, the scale can even show how broad the tops are. In one image, the Redwood crown is over 100 feet wide. The upstream region of this particular creek has all kinds of old growth Coast Redwood.

Check it out for yourself. McArthur starts out heavy with big stuff and gets thin before half way up where a huge elevated basin stretches old-growth-free, picked clean to the bone by loggers. Tom McDonald Creek is sort of a skinny finger of old growth for much of it's length. Elam Creek has lots initially and the old growth there spans the hilltop to McArthur. Bridge Creek does not look too grand for the first mile or two, but there are a bunch of valleys upstream loaded with giant old growth. The amount of old growth varies along Redwood Creek, ranging from vast groves to narrow patches: on the satellite image, some even look like the teeth carved in a Halloween pumpkin. Anyway, take a look yourself, zoom in and out and spin it around.

Words can be remarkably vague

Every so often, I find myself rereading the Above and Beyond article by Clynes, which I mentioned earlier. Summer 2011, something caught my eye for the first time, especially as one who knows the location. Clynes wrote the following:

"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" as stated by Atkins (discoverer) in the article. There would be no abundance of trunks that big at the particular stage of progress described by Clynes and his group. There are some 20 footers nearby though. I'm surprised that the particular sentence never jumped out before. Also, compare Clynes description above to the "stumps ten to fifteen feet across" and redwood "beanpoles" mentioned by author Preston.

One must keep in mind that words like "place" can mean a hugely wide expanse, and still be telling the truth. Likewise, walking "right past it" does not necessarily mean someone came within a hair's breadth of something. A person could be a 1/2 mile away from their target walking parallel to it's easiest approach, and walk right past it. Without knowing exactly where Clynes was (and he did not say in an email one time), I can't say whether Atkins replied over a phone line with pin-point reference, or whether it was very vague to guard the location. It could have been either, and he'd still be telling the truth. Althought 20 footer thing seems pretty clear that Clynes was not very close at all.

Interesting things about Clynes' Above and Beyond Article

In the story Above and Beyond, the author who also searched for Hyperion redwood, wrote "On August 25, 2006, Atkins and Taylor were bushwhacking through a remote basin that neither had previously visited. They had recently found two huge trees–371.2-foot Icarus and record-breaking 375.3-foot Helios–in a nearby grove".

Knowing the terrain for both Hyperion and Helios, it looks like "basin" has to be interchageable with "creek". One of the rare few who found this redwood prior to 2013 emailed about the spot seeming like a basin. But when I tilt and rotate satellite images, it looks like creek, valley and drainage for the more part. So what I get from the article published on backpacker, is that Atkins and Taylor are described as finding Hyperion up a creek valley they never went to before (neither of them). But in Preston's book and chapter Michael Taylor's Dream, says the discovery was in Fog Canyon, a small tributary valley that Taylor had been to before.

From all that, for some readers, the only way the book and article may fit, is that Fog Canyon is a miniature valley and brook feeding a named or slightly larger Dry Heaves Creek, or the other way around, where Dry Heaves Creek is a tiny brook (almost seasonal) feeding into a bigger Fog Canyon and creek. Again ... most lookers think in terms of bigger tributaries distinctly separated, rather than combinations of primary and adjoining supplementary valleys.

Also, Clynes wrote about crossing water ankle deep one day, then more like knee deep the second day after some rain, prior to really entering the forest so to speak. During unusually long lapses or winter rain, like December, I have not seen Redwood Creek go ankle deep where a seasonal bridge would be pulled away just upstream of Forty Four Creek. Even closer to August or September, the water would seem closer to ankle depth near the seasonal bridge (or lack of one) much closer to McArthur creek. So in that regard, the story implies Redwood Creek trail to possibly McArthur Creek, Elam Creek or Bond Creek.

If the writer really was referring to seasonal crossing farther upstream, the narrative should connote nearly 98% to readers who have seen maps, that Clynes' party made a bee-line for Forty Four Creek or Bond Creek. Because with no seasonal bridges in place, it would be virtually pointless to head to that point if you were aiming for creek tributaries north of there. This should also take readers back to pondering the real meaning of Atkin's comment about the "right place" toward the end of the article.

One puzzling thing, is why Clynes party put so little emphasis on whether Hyperion might be up a tributary or valley on the Bald Hills Rd. side of Redwood Creek, considering he knew potential was over there. He did write about "National Geographic Society naturalist named Paul Zahl" and the "Libbey" redwood, and it's on that side too. My guess is that their thinking was rutted in terms of named features ... or ... reasoning that didn't make it into the article. Maybe that's what they concluded when they first sat down to form a game plan at an Irish pub, which I suspect was Gallagher's Irish pub on 2nd street in Eureka. Because if people include the presence of existing old growth, and the fact of a long time world record from 1963 to the 80s, then the north slopes and valleys should be just as logical a place to search as the south slopes and valleys.

The Conspiracy Theory

Bear claw marks in the Lost Man Creek Redwood National Park area near Hyperion

It has been suspected by a few people, that discovers, researchers and park staff have laid an elaborate web of false clues: substituted canopy view vistas, altered time-lines, etc.. I will not confirm or deny that theory, but since a few Grove of Titans clues are known to be backwards, that does lay a basis for suspicion.

Because if it were true, many searchers would be drawn continually into a modern redwood version of Greek mythology's legend of Sisyphus ... and his impossible task.


Image: Bears frequent this part of Redwood National Park, shown by one of several claw marks in one stretch of Bear Claw Alley

The only free "bone"

About the only clue that can be offered, is the fact that at least one existing Hyperion clue is wrong or out of whack. It is either a typo, an unintentional mis-statement, figure of speech or even intentional. It's a mix-up about locations, proximity, distance, route or boundaries. It is not a date error. The contamination to the pool of clues stems from a name well-known to any seeker who expended effort. It is either an author, researcher, character, website owner or employee of the parks. If the error was interjected intentionally, I would not know because I did not ask. Something makes me think it was an accidental slip-up.

That "bone" does not say all that much. But it does open your mind to huge possibilities far exceeding what you may have expected.

A final Chapter

A few of you may have read Preston's book which ended with the discovery and and first climbing of this redwood: attended by National Geograpic. I heard through the grapevine that Preston had finished his book before the discovery, but it was not yet published. Then Michael Taylor and Chris Atkins found the world record redwood in 2006. So Preston added the final chapter Michael Taylor's Dream. How different the book would be without that discovery to cap it off.

Some folks consider Hyperion as the holy grail of redwoods. One naturalist wrote that they would not set foot on that earth because it was sacred. But its not quite like the banana slugs and bears there genuflect.

For now the location remains secret and unpublished. Hyperion is fairly remote. Maybe it's location should be called Hyperion Hill since it's on a hillside.

Redwoods like this are still inconspicous, because there are super tall redwoods all around. They literally cloak each other. And the tip tops are commonly out of view of a rangefinder.

About a previous Panoramio / Google Earth photograph of Hyperion: a few folks were curious about the Hyperion photo which used to show on the Lady Bird Johnson Grove side of Lost Man Creek in Redwood National Park. I removed it indefinitely, in case one may wonder where it went. Some images remain in my albums.

Parking RE Bald Hills Rd.

This is a quirky addition, but someone recently asked if I parked near Bald Hills Rd., when headed for Hyperion. I did not answer the question which came during a phone call. But later that day, I decided the question probably could have been answered without givng away the vicinity of Hyperion. That's because we (or myself) have approached toward Hyperion from more than one direction. So yes ... at least once, headed for Hyperion, I parked near Bald Hills Rd.. I don't think that answer will gain anything for the man who asked. But since it's at least the 2nd time I've been asked ... figured why not write the answer and remove that question.

March 2014 Update ... Fay & Holmes 1800 mile Redwood Transect

Don't recall writing before about a 2007 - 2008 Redwood Transect by Michael Fay & Lindsey Holm, because it never struck me that people looking for Hyperion were interested. But this week, someone emailed mentioning it. So what the heck ... here's some thoughts ...

If anyone thinks there's a hair of relevance, they would centralize on Redwood National Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods. Doubt anyone thinks it's beyond that.

In Jedediah Smith, Del Norte, Prairie Creek and Humboldt Redwood, I found nothing concrete that they stopped at any tallest redwoods with the exception of grazing Stratosphere Giant, the tallest of Humbold Redwoods SP ... oh yes, and Pipedream. They went close to Bull Creek Giant but not sure if they realized it. In Prairie Creek, I think they viewed Arco Giant but apparently nothing for Illuvatar or Atlas Grove, famous redwoods that author Preston wrote about. At Jedediah Smith they must have brushed by Del Norte Titan, but none of the park's tallest ... not even New Hope redwood ... they cut down the heart, but missed it by a mile . In Del Norte Redwoods, their route was just that ... transect. Probably beat themselves up on the off-trail. From what I know, there is not a shred of story for any encounter with one of the tallest 10 Coast Redwoods, except the Strat. Not unless they posted photos somewhere that I missed.

The grazing of 2 super tall redwoods and one top 10 largest is what drew my attention to how continuous and consistent their GPS and tracking may be.

Now over to Redwood National Park ...

It's recently hit me how few creeks they went to. Not just RNP, but any park. Bet time constraint was part of it. Took most of a year as it was. But in RNP, I'm only aware of Devil's Creek, Redwood Creek and Lost Man Creek. They got close to Elam Creek and McAurthur Creek, but more of a hillside ridge route at that end of the park. The only tallest redwood I'm certain they went past in RNP is the National Geographic redwood, already publicized . And possibly one tributary creek of Lost Man Creek.

If any suspect their path were along some creek for Hyperion, that leaves 3 options ... the creeks or rivers just mentioned. Even if they did pause by Hyperion for a moement, it would still be speculation, unless you find an article, etc., that says so. I plan to double-check for any this week. What I glean from this duo is they were sticklers about their GPS .. probably wore it even when gathering sticks or going to the bathroom.

April 8, 2014 update ... more on National Geographic videos

Several people recently mentioned videos showing the climbing of Hyperion, or views taken from it, so I went to Youtube for some replay action. There was more than one video, and there may be a copy or two, even Part I and Part II stuff. Here a few things I noticed this time ...

1. In one from the National Geographic from the first documentary climb, they show lichens on a limb. You can see other tops way the heck down below. It gives the appearance as if Hyperion at 379 ft. has short 100' redwoods right up to it's base.

2. Same video ... the video segments were not all taken near Hyperion. Note one segment with Steve Sillett on a bridge that resembles nothing like most bridges on most Redwood National Park trails.

3. In another video, with Jim Spickler, the first video segment interviewing Jim Spickler is in Prairie Creek, near Drury Parkway and Highway 101. Looks like early morning conditions. End of video looks like end of day in same park, with what looks like a log bridging Foothill trail. Just pointing this out so you can see how the videos are pieced-together.

4. 1st time I noticed, but one time when Sillett aims the crossbow, you can see a photographer's camera-mounted flash behind Sillett's head. Not sure if it was Nat Geo, Save the Redwoods, or other ... they probably just should have just brought a top-end lens like the Canon 50mm 1.2 and bagged the flash.

Interesting commentary ... Kayak information page

2014, was reading a page about Kayaking and Redwood Creek. You may find it at .... http://cacreeks.com/redwood.htm by Bill Tuthill. Any rocky gaps must be upstream of Bridge Creek by at least 1.7 miles as the crow flies. Or 1.9 miles by the river. Been there on foot ... know for a fact. You can see it on Google Earth. His gap is that or similar just upstream. I have a photo stitch of it on my Redwood NP Backpacking page. I've never heard this specifically mentioned by seekers or finders of Hyperion, but it may interest you, because it's about the only reference to an area which fits Jim Spickler's account of a several mile hike to Hyperion, at noted in a Youtube video. I can't share specifics, but there are redwoods of great height along Redwood Creek up there. Chris Atkins and I were up that way for LiDAR redwoods, as was Prof. Steve Sillett. On foot and also using Kayak. Upstream and downstream access. The rocky gap is sort of a keyhole in the Redwood National Park landscape. Emerald Ridge Trail is an obvious match to fit Spickler's several mile hike description. Unless he meant a round trip, in which case Emerald Creek can come into play. Maybe flip a coin.

Sounds like the writer knows the area very well, and he wrote the following:

"Below Rocky Gap is another class IV- rapid, usually run slanting right over a gravel bar, then sharp left thru a narrow slot on the far left. You might want to scout for logs before running this one. After that are a few class III rapids, then the gradient eases. The slowing of current has formed a sandy beach on river right, and a high grassy bench on river left, just below the canyon. These make excellent campsites (NPS fire permit required).

... When the river becomes class I, things really get dangerous! .... The creek bed widens and becomes a river, even if not so named. The river sand is gray instead of white, lending the bottom an unusual color. In spots, roots have completely engulfed the river bank. In most places the river is 1-2 feet deep, moving quickly over sand and gravel bars. This section is navigable at very low flows.

TallTrees Grove, 16.5 miles below Lacks Creek, is the site of the Howard Libbey Tree, formerly the tallest tree in the world that hasn't been cut down yet ... In summer 2006, three taller redwood trees were discovered in Redwood National Park, the tallest of which is the 378' Hyperion ... Helios ... Icarus tree. The location of these trees is nonpublic information, but I suspect they are located near the river upstream of Rocky Gap ..."

 

Redwoods Rubberneckers Finds Tallest Trees ... Article

There is an article online (PDF is all I found) under that title, by a writer Lisa Leff / Associated Press

The most noteworthy paragraph may be the one which says Taylor and Atkins were exploring a tributary of Redwood Creek where they had "never been before" ... an interesting bit to compare with parts of Preston's redwood adventure book chapters about their exploring.

 

SAVE the REDWOODS LEAGUE Spring 2007 Bulletin

This newsletter has a lot about the discovery of Hyperion. And it also mentions Helios and Icarus. It's unique how the article tells of the men finding Icarus 6 days after Helios. Compare that with Preston's book.

Keep this in mind as relates to Hyperion. Do you take everything at face value?


A couple more photos from Hyperion Valley. Top Image: So close to Hyperion I could almost taste it. Guess the spiders in the webs were watching me. 2nd Image: If this is spotted overhead, the quest is getting warm ... man ... look how incredibly intense the greens are.


Mossy Fern trunk in Hyperion Redwood Valley


Mossy Fern trunk in Hyperion Redwood Valley

The image below may add a hint of shell-game to the topic.

Which trunk is the tallest? Front, middle or back? This clue gives the impression of at least Coast Rewoods nearby.

Mossy Fern trunk in Hyperion Redwood Valley