Hyperion Redwood | World's Tallest
Redwood National and State Parks
Continued from Largest Coast Redwoods Main Page (see menu)
Copyright 2015 by Mario Vaden
Entire page revised top to bottom February, 2015
Note: new largest coast redwood discovered, read more at Year of Discovery
Hyperion coast redwood was discovered August 25, 2006 by Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor.
This Coast Redwood was the tallest known of all plant species in the world ... at least from 2006 to 2013 (and pre-2014 drought) ... (keep reading)
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 stereotypical Sequoia sempervirens.
The stem length on the low side was 386 feet. The location is a hillside above a little creek 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 facts available for Hyperion are limited and the location remote.
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.
Although a plane flew over redwood parks for LiDAR, it left the door of chance open for more previously unknown super tall redwoods. Part of Redwood National Park was missed. Some exploration occured there post-LiDAR.
A lot of people thought there was no chance another largest coast redwood trunk existed either, but one was found anyway. Chance has a lot of potential.
Helios, the 2nd tallest (2006 to 2013) was growing more vigorously than Hyperion. Its documentation online is very minimal. The first team measurement was conservative and it was probably close to a tie back in 2006, the year it and Hyperion were both found in Redwood National Park.
The photo here is the coast redwood Hyperion. There should be a small pic you can use for blogs pre-approved if you visit the image use page.
There is not a particular single way to approach this tallest redwood in the world, located uphill from one of the many creeks and brooks.
Trivia for Tallest Coast Redwoods & Tallest of Other Species
1. Whether the trunk grows several inches per year or several feet per year, the region of stem elongation is only near the apex of the trunk. It can be just the top few inches. No tape drop down to the base is essential for repeat measuring, and can be done accurately checking change in just the top few feet.
2. From 2010 to 2014 in Nor Cal, the tallest of several species experienced change that included height loss, anticipated growth, and even "insane" growth. Changes in height occured up and down the redwood coast redwood parks. You may have noticed a little about this on my pages for two other species. "Insane" growth refers to height where increases were mind-boggling compared to gain anticipated.. Some changes virtually vaporized the idea of "growth rate".
The largest waterway is Redwood Creek with Prairie Creek as largest tributary. Lost Man Creek is another park tributary. Among this web of waterways and slopes, seekers choose routes they deem promising to find this Coast Redwood.
When I first found Hyperion, I chose a route that involved walking through water deeper than my waist. I quickly learned that immersing in waist-deep water was not essential.
These days, I can get there without stepping in a millimeter of water, or use of a gate.
My favorite story by others is a 2007 Above and Beyond by Clynes. If still online, see ... Above and Beyond Article
The narrative sounds like they picked Redwood Creek trailhead close to Orick, maybe crossing downstream from Redwood Transect Faye & Holmes's Redwood Creek image on Google Earth.
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 Canon camera at the base of the trunk. It was unusually warm this day ... 80 degrees
Doubt Clynes would have found any Douglas Fir over 300 ft.. But had he been a real tree-geek, gone 6 years later with light-duty research, they certainly could have found a Sitka Spruce over 300 ft.
Attempts were made by others up Emerald Creek, Tom McDonald Creek, Lost Man Creek and Forty Four Creek because of speculative guesses at some websites.
Several of them who eventually found Hyperion, had ventured up those creeks with no success. They returned to other parts of the park, and over time finally found what they were looking for.
Maybe its human nature ... but most people aim for named creeks rather than seasonal creeks in numerous chasms.
Hyperion was described in a book on a remote Redwood National Park hillside in the south end of the park. That is vague because the park is not neatly sliced into north or south on maps and Prairie Creek is sometimes included generically.
Helios is so close in diameter and height, someone could mistake it for Hyperion.
With almost 10 years passed after discovery, measuring has shown that Helios and other redwoods each had enough vigor to become the tallest. Especially when weather and climate dukes-it-out with all of them. Several super tall redwoods grow faster. Its been known for years, and the years have been stacking-up.
Image: In case someone finds this knife alongside Larry Dam Creek, let me know. Likely near a log, west side of creek ... someone else lost a $500 laser amidst another creek 30' tall log jams make retrieval near impossible.
I recall asking researcher Steve Sillett once about why so many dead spires in parts of Redwood National Park, especially evident from Bald Hills Rd. He believed some was related to a severe drought ... 1976. So it will be interesting to keep an eye out for change in northern redwood parks, because of significant precipitation change the past few years. Sounds like 2013 may be one of California State's driest in 1,200 years. 2013 gave Eureka its 2nd driest December. Not far south, San Francisco got zero rain for January 2015, the driest for 165 years. Eureka south of RNP, only got 1.36 inches rain in January 2015. Winter 2014-15 saw a few bursts of rain, but the weather roller coaster has not fully coasted to a halt.
In the future as new data is released, names are not expected to accompany that data. So if you stumble upon an article post-2013 about a redwood 379 ft. (or 377 ft., 380 ft. or whatever) with no name, do not assume it is Hyperion. Unless a researcher specifies ... but that's to be seen.
That is one reason I edited this page to present Hyperion as the tallest known 2006 to 2013. Because that was before the drought year of 2014 in California. From 2014 forward, I may add some new height data, but names may not be attached.
A change was made (elsewhere) for how redwood information will be published in the future. And many readers will probably not realize when another redwood took over as the tallest known. Likewise, complete collapses like Dyerville Giant may not be evident in data.
Post 2013, if someone hopes to have seen the tallest redwood, they may need to find 10 pre-2013 tallest redwoods, and measure each with precision.
Image: 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 ... My elbow bone broke too, from exploring in the redwoods, but less severe than shown here.
In 2011, Michael Taylor wrote "Helios is on pace to hit 380' on or about 2017, and that Hyperion was on pace to break the 380' barrier about the same time. That stemmed from Hyperion's growth at near 1 inch per year, with Helios significantly faster growing of the two. But other super tall redwoods are putting on growth faster than both.
What Taylor wrote was theoretical based on the assumption that weather and climate remain somewhat similar as the year following the discoveries ... and not based on unusual or outstanding conditions ... or even short-term moderate fluctuations.
Other than Taylor, Atkins and some researchers, virtually nobody else knows exactly the height, ranking and rate of growth of tallest redwoods. Seasonal change can, and has caused radical growth variance. Breakage can happen any time ... take Oregon's tallest live-top Douglas Fir for example ... during winter 2013, over 70 ft of its top blew-out, reducing it down to 253 ft. from the 323 ft. when we first discovered it. This is just the nature of nature, and its the norm in the Coast Redwoods too.
There was height loss among the tallest Coast Redwoods too, the past few years. Its doubtful any data will point a finger using names. That still boosts educational value, because anybody should still be able to track the height potential of Coast Redwood as a species.
www.curlyredwoodlodge.com (707) 464 - 2137 @ 701 Hy. 101 S. Crescent City, CA 95531. Click photo for more .. 8 / 2014
The following was added some time ago when seekers approached the trio Preston wrote about ... Hyperion, Helios and Icarus trio. But that was 2006 ... old news now.
For some redwoods, clues are almost non-existent. The hunt may boil-down to the photo of Helios' bark. One small fire scar looks 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 countless seasonal brooks with no name. 80 miles of slope combined.
This area was nicknamed Fog Valley in a book by Richard Preston, describing Steve Sillett and Michael Taylor heading downstream into the rugged region ... later in Michael Taylor's Dream an expedition went upstream.
Thenarrative says there is one way in, but tells of two ways. Its like sitting by a campfire hearing a storyteller spin a tale after he downed a few beers.
Tags on redwoods are not reliable for verification. Between canopy researchers and other studies, there are reams of tags. Just recently, we added one more tag on a redwood trunk for the tallest Hemlock. For that Redwood, the tag means nothing ... its only for the Hemlock.
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, and still continues to add up.
Many apparent clues for Hyperion are not better than trial and error because various clues are uncertain or were twisted through narratives. Heck ... didn't I just mention one example a few paragraphs earlier about a story conflict in Preston's book? And he's a reputable author.
Thats why people are skeptical about practically every reported story about Hyperion. Every writer had a motive to spin a tale that makes readers swallow the bait.
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 required a 4 mile plus ordeal through really rugged terrain and the lost little valley is on the edge of the park.
Right place or wrong place?
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 in the article. Also compare Clynes description to the stumps ten to fifteen feet across and beanpoles by author Preston.
It has been suspected that discoverers, researchers and park staff laid an elaborate web of false clues. I will not confirm or deny that theory, but will offer a few Grove of Titans clues were backwards. If the theory was right, searchers can be drawn continually into a modern redwood version of Greek mythology: the legend of Sisyphus and his impossible task.
"Keyhole in the Landscape"
Richard Preston wrote of a keyhole in the landscape, leading to Hyperion Valley. For years, it made no sense.
Image: cleaning lens in Redwood National Park. Same day my photography assistant, above, helped me get some more recent images
Fairly recently in that vicinity I photographed what seems to be the passageway.
Maybe you walked right by Hyperion?
I wonder how many people walked by Hyperion and missed it.
Ever read my Godwood Creek Giant page? That redwood should have been a gimme. I passed it a dozen times.
So it would not surprise me if some have literally gazed at the trunk and moved along on their journey.
And the crazy part is Godwood Creek Giant sits in plain sight.
February 20, 2015
My last trip by Hyperion was 2014. The same day, I hiked and bushwhacked in Prairie Creek to see Tsunami, the world record hemlock of 2012. And before sunset, had plenty daylight for some photos up in Jedediah Smith Redwoods.
Fortunately, shedding 60 lbs. of weight recently, enabled me to explore and bushwhack with the versatility of other folks like Taylor, Atkins, and a few researchers. Not only do I get to see more in a single day, it means a broader variety of photos. Its interesting how many people read about our adventures on the internet and do not realize how much territory we can cover in a day. Some of our travel is shared. But I think others translate our accounts according to the nature of their own exploring habits.
November 12, 2014
I recall several seekers of past years looking for all 3 tallest Coast Redwoods that they read about. Emphasize the read about. Its remarkable how well or permanently an author can establish a rut.
The previous trio was Hyperion, Helios and Icarus as 1st, 2nd and 3rd tallest, and all in Redwood National Park. Post-2013, it is no longer accurate to believe Redwood National Park has the 3 tallest Coast Redwoods
Dec. 1, 2014
A woman at one of the redwood park visitor centers ended a conversation claiming I "mislead" people. She formed her own opinion for whatever reason. But the fact remains that this page is 100% accurate, excepting typo. The woman mislead herself. If people take take my info and assemble their own inaccurate assumptions, that is their responsibility. From this page, people can only mislead themselves if they make something it into more than exactly what it is.
January 11, 2015
Reports about rangers and clues ... I had a conversation with rangers regarding emails and face-to-face reports about "rangers" (other rangers) dropping hints for Hyperion and groves. Over years, I received a bunch of emails saying they got pointed to locations with Atlas Grove mentioned. The messages usually wrote "ranger".
I was issued a permit for 2014, and I was expected to send a report for it at year's end. So I relayed to someone in the parks system what I heard ... no names .. just context. My concern was looking forward in time regarding new discoveries: not so much Hyperion. I think if anyone got as many similar emails, they would inqure too. My inquiry was not meant as a complaint.
The rangers I spoke with said nobody at their location would do that, and I have no reason to doubt them for what they are aware of. But preponderance of emails strongly suggests there is something they are not aware of. Others got similar feedback from emails and conversation. So if any of you can connect more dots on this, feel free to share sometime.
December 25, 2014
he lingering question .... who is the photo assistant? A few inquired. Jenni ... one who inspired redwood photos with dresses. 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 in Eureka as a dancer and modeled. The world's tallest maple was named Humboldt Honey after a photo of her taken near Koster St.. There were also photo sessions with her friend Lotus. Those set the foundation of my redwood portraiture and art photography displayed at the redwood coast: some in motels, restaurants, gallery, magazine covers, and as distant as Denmark.
Maybe like the shark tooth mark on Helios, we can share she has a scar. When younger, she scratched hate on her thigh. The E is backwards. That scar serves as an example that some changes are near permanent. Some change can be long lasting. Like initials carved in trunks, or worn habitat. 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.
February 16, 2015
In the future, which redwood reigns tallest may be like leap-frog instead of new discoveries. Enthusiasts get comfortable with what they read from old books or articles. For example, I met an arborist who didn't believe we discovered new titan redwoods because sources conditioned his mind that nothing big remained to find. For him, the past defined the future.
LiDAR covered a lot of forest, and other patches are explored on foot. Each year, the most likely discovery for an unknown tallest will probably be species that lay below LiDAR's 340 ft. parameter: Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, Port Orford Cedar, Madrone. So for those who plan to travel across the Atlantic or USA to see the world's tallest redwood, in the future, just very tall may need to suffice. Mendocino used to be tallest. Nat Geo used to be tallest. Dyerville used to be tallest. Time passes, and so does change.
A few questions as we move into the future ...
1. In 2006, Redwood National Park had the 3 tallest redwoods ... but why not by 2013-2014?
2. Over 200 years, how many times have Helios and Stratosphere Giant traded places for which is taller?
3. Pretend in drought two things happen ... some trunks lose height and other others grow 3 to 5 years worth in one season. If this fantasy were "poofed" into reality, how many variations of ranking can you imagine applying loss and gain to each specimen you ever read about? Go into the Star Trek Holodeck and try the fantasy.