Hyperion Coast Redwood
World's tallest discovery in 2006, Redwood National Park, 379 ft. - 386 ft.
Continued from Coast Redwoods Main Page
Copyright 2016 by Mario Vaden
Udate: October 28, 2015, I got a report that one of the ten tallest coast redwoods has just fallen. This is one more of various changes along with growth and decline of heights, that obscures which redwoods are really the tallest. The name of the fallen coast redwood was provided, but I will just leave it anonymous for now.
Note: Hyperion was discovered 2006 and was the tallest redwood published. The page Redwood Discoveries adds insight that not every new discovery past 2014 is being revealed. Since new territory was explored and new champions found, Hyperion's info here will mostly refer historically to 2006 to 2010. I will expound more farther down this page. In past years, basically every person who read this page as it evolved, then found Hyperion, agreed everything written here was accurate verbatim. This page and my other redwood pages will continue down that path of accuracy. That's how it should be among researchers and discoverers, because those are the people who validate the discoveries. Then Nat Geo, rangers, news reporters and others report what discoverers find and measure ... not the other way around.
Hyperion coast redwood was discovered August 25, 2006 by Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor. It was one of 3 world record Coast Redwoods found the same year in Redwood National Park. The 3 redwoods found in 2006 were Hyperion, Helios and Icarus. By 2013, heights of the tallest redwoods shuffled the deck and Redwood National Park did not hold claim to the "three tallest" as of 2014. Even if location clues leak, my tendency is to be sparing with directions, plus some folks like figuring it out themselves. Although that's harder than some imagined. Plus, there appear to be two redwoods named Apex, a name on older top-ten lists - and two redwoods named Hyperion (in very close proximity)
The image below is the oldest top-to-bottom view of Hyperion. Available on 16 x 32 print canvas. This is the photo farthest-removed from human influence, taken on a rainy January 23, 2009. In that regard the four-frame composite is historical. My wife likes this better than the Geisha redwood print (my favorite)
Continue below this image for more information
My first encounter with Hyperion / M. D. Vaden
My first time to Hyperion was back in 2009 when the trek was more of an adventure. Clues were far more scarce those years. I approached about 11:30 am, January 23, 2009, and reached Hyperion around 11:45 am. It was an overcast, cold and rainy day. Due to the path I chose that day, my clothes were saturated chest high from wading through water up to 4 feet deep.
I was hesitant, but Michael Taylor encouraged me to keep looking. He never shared the location, but after he heard my estimation for location, suggested to proceed. Apparently I was the first "outsider" to locate Hyperion. And on a first attempt. Probably because I didn't rely solely on clues which were more or less scraps from Richard Preston's redwood adventure book. My choice was based on arboriculture and what seemed like a good place to look for a tallest redwood as if it hadn't been found and I was going to pick a place to search for a world record on my own.
Other than Ladybird Johnson Grove, I may have been the only person visiting Redwood National Park that day. Redwood Creek was full and so were the tributaries. Some spots were deep enough to raise my pack overhead. Unlike these days (2016), I determined Hyperion by it's apex rather than the base, because any clues pertaining to the base or surrounding logs could be misleading or misinterpreted.
Especially in winter, the area feels like a wilderness. I recall being apprehensive, probably because I went in there solo that day. When I spotted claw marks on logs, it made me a little more nervous. But afterward, I focused my thoughts on redwoods, hemlocks, maples and photos. By afternoon, I became comfortable, and it became one of my most memorable redwood adventures.
Hyperion Coast Redwood was the tallest known of all plant species in the world from 2006 to 2013. 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 fire charring on the trunk. Hyperion looks like a stereotypical Sequoia sempervirens.
The stem length on the low side was 386 feet. It's location is a hillside above a creek of Redwood National Park. In a sense, you could accurately say Hyperion is a 386 ft. tall redwood. One professional measuring standard averages the height based on the upslope and downslope reach of the trunk. But if it were possible to remove Hyperion from the earth, hang it from a crane and dangle the bottom reach of the trunk on the ground, it would stand no less than 386 ft. tall. Its accurate to say Hyperion was 386 ft. tall from the lowest reach to the highest reach of it's trunk.
Around August 26, 2006, forest expert Dr. Robert VanPelt referred to this redwood as "unnamed" and wrote "The most significant year in tree height measuring just joined the ranks of years like 1066, 1492, etc."
Image right: coast redwoods near Klamath and Yurok territory ..... Note from above continued: some notable new discoveries have not been published, named or shown. Post-2013 the real tallest and largest coast redwoods are only known among a few researchers and discoverers.
Around 2013, the most skilled discoverers pushed into new territory. Many new discoveries were made including tallest redwoods that did not show up on LiDAR lists. In other words, redwood forest had been flown-over with LiDAR equipment before indicating potential tallest redwoods and those were investigated and measured. But the same forest was re-explored, and new discoveries were made that did not appear in the LiDAR set. Also, som expanses of Redwood and National State Parks wwre not explored or scanned with LiDAR gear.
Likewise, other forests not flown over for LiDAR were also explored, including old growth coast redwoods near Klamath, etc.. I cropped-out the tallest redwood which was to the right, but the old-growth is evident.
In a nutshell, outside of about 20 people, the real tallest and largest coast redwoods discovered are not known. Even today, the redwood forest is not fully explored or re-explored; but we are still out there looking for even more.
During the first climb shown by National Geographic researcher Steve Sillett said foliage near the top was not as reduced in size as expected. The needles still had some "expansion" indicating potential for extra height.
The first climb involved Dr. Steve Sillett, his wife Marie Antoinne, Jim Spickler and author Richard Preston. National Geographic's film crew tagged along plus 3 officials from Save the Redwoods League, one being Ruskin Hartley who carried the crossbow for Sillett that September 16, 2006. Michael Taylor and Chris Atkins who discovered it were also present.
Image: glimpse into the canopy, one trunk with unique hook-arm reiterations
Prior to 2010, a plane flew over several redwood parks for LiDAR but left the door open for more unknown super tall redwoods because swaths of Redwood National Park area was skipped or missed for some reason. Tallest redwoods have been found in the LiDAR zone which were undetected. That basically opened up all parks flown-over for LiDAR to re-exploration, and of course, we returned. A new discovery occured between 2013 and 2016, surpassing the 379.1 ft. world record of Hyperion in 2006.
A lot of people thought there was no chance another largest coast redwood trunk existed either, but more were found anyway. Chance has potential.
The largest waterway is Redwood Creek with Prairie Creek as largest tributary. Lost Man Creek is another tributary. Among this web of waterways and slopes stand quite a few Coast Redwoods over 350 feet including Hyperion. When I first found Hyperion, I tried a route that involved water over my waist.
My favorite story by others is a 2007 Above and Beyond by Clynes. Even though I have been to Hyperion a couple of times, I still enjoy reading this fun article from time to time. If it is still online, see ... Above and Beyond Article
The narrative unfolds as if they 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. I found interesting quirks comparing Preston's book with Clynes story.
Image: my photography assistant with a Canon camera and tripod at the base of the tall Hyperion Coast redwood. It was unusually warm that day ... Over 80 degrees in the Spring - May 1, 2014.
Clynes never did find Hyperion, but he closed his story with a great appreciation for the forest. Its worth the read.
Clynes contacted co-discoverer Chris Atkins afterward to chat. Around April, 2015, Chris and I stopped for an IPA and supper where I asked about his conversation with Clynes, and Atkins confirmed the phone call.
I reread Above and Beyond recently. Clynes mentioned at least an "hour" of "sloshing" and the narrative indicates one of the next days was even farther so they could have gone up a full mile or more. Far enough to reach solitide grove up Redwood Creek.
The article began with 10 ft. log jams. Coming out of the gate, the story has a McArthur Creek vibe. But the Rhody patches ring true of spots like Forty Four creek or Elam creek north slope.
Clynes never says how many days they spent. The "last" day in the context of the call to Atkins remains a mystery. Some people assume the last stretch Clynes explains is the last day. But whether they looked 2 days or 5 days he did not reveal.
In the beginning, the park's ranger made the effort to draw their attention to a specific stand of redwoods and one part of the park. That's about the only time Clynes names a spot they went. Afterward, they left to study maps for where to lead themselves. They went to the visitor center south of Orick for a "better" map. Its uncertain what map they started with or whether a ranger provided any at the "headquarters" operations center earlier in the story.
One section in the narrative that reveals their thoughts . . . "I turned discreetly and scanned the steep, mazelike country upstream. Somewhere up there, Hyperion had been quietly holding forth for decades" . . . Considering the exact spot the ranger took them, Clynes' comment points toward Bridge Creek, Emerald Creek, etc..
In the future as new data is released, names are not expected to accompany the data. It will become unavailable for most people to know when the tallest coast redwoods trade places.
It may not be announced anymore, or not by name.
www.curlyredwoodlodge.com (707) 464 - 2137 @ 701 Hy. 101 S. Crescent City, CA 95531. Click photo for more .. 8 / 2014
Tags on redwoods are not reliable 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.
Keyhole in the Landscape
Richard Preston wrote of a keyhole in the landscape, leading to Hyperion Valley.
For a while, it made no sense.
Eventually, I realized that one or two spots in the park can be described as a keyhole.
Someday if the location becomes more public, I will post exactly what this is. And it must be seen from one direction.
Update: August 16, 2015 -- due to changes in activity and information this year, I decided to reveal the "keyhole" in the landscape described by Preston. Scroll down page to find the image.
Image: cleaning lens in Redwood National Park, the same day my photography assistant, above helped me get more images
October 10, 2015 update
Found an interesting error this month.
Someone posted online that Hyperion's canopy / crown is the greatest known, over 90 meters top to bottom. Almost 300 ft. worth.
The error is apparently elsewhere too, but it caught my eye, since the post I read this month is also connected to a series of errors on coast redwoods.
Anyhow, let it be known that other in the coast redwood species named in Preston's 2007 redwood adventure book and on my webiste exceeds Hyperion in this regard.
There is other redwood crown out there well over 300 ft. top to bottom.
This goes to show how easily misinformation can be spread when people who disconnect themselve from redwood experts try feeding information online without consulting others.
July 2016 Update
July, 2016, a group from a Foursquare Church in Humboldt documented with their own words and images the initial stages of habitat damage near what they believed to be Hyperion - - a woman saying "we created our own footholds into the mud" ... exactly how 3300 square meters of damage started at the Grove of Titans. Over the years, hundreds of emails spoke of delicate care, so that recent posting seemed to have a different ring.
I think their intention was to have fun and adventure, but their words were specific. Incrementally to their own eyes it will seem inconsequential. But that's how thousands of square feet of plants got obliterated in the other grove. A succession of seemingly linconsequential events. I don't know the group, but given that there were at least 5 to 7 of them, there's a decent chance that one or more read about the damaged vegetation to the Grove of Titans. So at 3:05 to 3:07 when you can see and hear them break and snap a Rhododendron, it begs the question how much more did they break?
Now, that they been a half mile away where nobody is going to return again, that's a different story. But when you move around a redwood where you know more people are coming, you don't want to break anything, whether its a fern, Rhododendron or Salmonberry. Moving slower and more carefully is always an option.
To those who went there back in 2010 or 2014, the new millenial visitors are like watching a science experiment. In the past, we moved so delicately you couldn't really tell a human had been there, so we had no wear and tear that could be observed evaluated. These days, it's different. There's no question about wear and tear any more. The only question is the rate and how many square meters or hectares will be involved when it's all is added together.
Who is the photo assistant? A few have inquired!
Jenni ... the one who inspired redwood photos with dresses you may have seen in a gallery or motel. She enjoys photography, video and editing. Our first shoots were in Eureka and Humboldt when she worked in Eureka as a dancer and model. I met her via Lotus who is mentioned on the Knotty Lady redwood page. They both helped establish the foundation of my redwood portraiture and art photography displayed at the redwood coast. Some hangs in motels, gallery, magazines and brochures. We also tinkered with photography at the beach, city streets and tourist attractions. The world's tallest maple was named Humboldt Honey after a photo of Jenni taken near Koster St.. in Eureka, by a huge stack of logs. Plus her portrait in a redwood grove where the tallest maple was located.
Jenni enjoys the outdoors of Humboldt, dancing and yoga. It should be evident from the photo that she has the flexibility and stamina for a lot of adventure.
Image: the first image is Chris Atkins, co-discoverer of Hyperion, swimming in Redwood National Park in the area described by author Clynes in the Backpacker Magazine article Above and Beyond. See commentary above to know more about this area. This is upstream from Solitude Grove
The second image is the specific "keyhole" in the landscape described by author Richard Preston. It becomes more distinct during overcast weather and looking from this direction.
Image: the "keyhole" in the landscape described by author Richard Preston. It becomes more distinct during overcast weather and looking from this direction.
Image: Hyperion Valley in Redwood National Park, winter time, January 23, 2009.
Image: Hyperion Valley, January 23, 2009. Cold, saturated and swollen with rainwater.
Image: scores of fallen logs packed like sardines from the power of raging floodwaters. January 23, 2009. Hyperion Valley in Redwood National Park.
Image: Claw marks in close proximity to Hyperion redwood. These claw marks conveyed two more things about Hyperion other than the fact black bears are there in addition to mountain lions (which tracks I also found). The claw marks were wide, meaning the bears are large. But the length proved that getting a foothold is just as slippery for bears,