Redwoods in Stout Grove

Largest Coast Redwoods | New Discovery | 2008 - 2017

Last 1/2 page covers redwood explorers 1963-2006

Continued from: Coast Redwoods Main Page

Copyright 2014 - 2016 | by Mario Vaden | I.S.A. Certified Arborist - PNW 5584A

Redwood National and State Parks now has the tallest & widest redwoods surpassing all giant sequoias for girth and height. Coast redwoods below are a handful of new 2008 - 2017 discoveries. Upwards of 200 new diameter records, titans, champions and 18 ft. - 28 ft. (+) redwoods. The largest disclosed is Grogan's Fault. There were enough 24 ft. (+) redwoods that I quit counting. Even a 235 ft. weeping Hemlock. Sequoia sempervirens apparently meets and exceeds 1321 point General Sherman (Sequoiadendron) by upward of 40 points (±). Ever since the 2008 discovery of Orion, Dog Soldier and others in Redwood National Park, it was evident more exist. For ones not shown, the menu #1 is assigned to The Emissary. Albino redwoods were discovered in Prairie Creek, Jedediah Smith and Humboldt Redwoods (highest concentration). More about Albino Redwoods. New discovery exceeds 1998 Grove of Titans and these days the 20 tallest are dwarfed like gum drops contrast with the largest. Updates: another champion was found in RNSP, January 30, 2016, named "Hail Storm" in superb condition even after 2014 / 2015 dry seasons. As of 2017, known 18' (+) coast redwoods approaches four hundred. To get 2017 started, meet DARTH VADER



Read more below the image ... person shown for for scale

Grogans Fault redwood, wider than famous redwoods Grove of Titans


In 2014, John Montegue of Humboldt found a coast redwood in Redwood National Park with circumference 107.8 ft or 34.31 ft. ground diameter and 27 ft. dbh. Weeks later I found a redwood 27.4 ft. diameter dbh. May, 2015, John reported a record 29.2 ft. diameter dbh, single trunk over 25,000 cu. ft. Then John and Michael Taylor found a 24.5 ft coast redwood July, 2015. John discovered a 25 ft. diameter redwood later July, 2015. August 2015, I photographed one more 24 ft. dbh that Chris Atkins identified in RNP near the coastal trail. Then another was remeasured at 28 ft. There were so many I quit counting but John keeps track of all data. The discoveries launched coast redwood ahead of any Giant Sequoia for widest diameter. Numbers used for giant sequoia often state ground level to make them sound bigger. But for ground diameter or chest-high (dbh) diameter, coast redwood became widest 2014 to 2016. Recently I added "Church Tree" redwood to the blog when I found it's girth almost on par with Del Norte Titan. The cave may be a world record for largest goose pen in a living single stem coast redwood.

Chris Atkins and Ron Hildebrant the math whiz from Humboldt, number-crunched 38,299 cu. ft. for Grogan's Fault, the biggest single stem redwood disclosed at the time. Over 300 ft. tall, over 20 ft. wide, over 1296 points, the 38,299 cu. ft. was just the main trunk excluding reiterated trunks which add even more volume. By 2013 - 2016, we were aware of more in the 40,000 cu. ft. to 60,000 cu. ft. league. It reasoned something this large remained around Redwood National Park. The stats are recorded on a private list with over 300 coast redwoods with dbh diameter 18' - 34'. A few most spectacular tower in Brünnhilde Gulch. Also see updates at Hyperion redwood.

My exploring friend Thomas also helped get momentum going, slated to return from Germany, May 2017. We will take a third jab past Bigfoot Ridge and see what else we can find.


More below the image ... Chris Atkins shown for scale

Largest Coast Redwoods of Redwood National and State Parks


Regarding Grogan's Fault, Michael Taylor was looking at a point cloud of the trunk like a 3-D model and commented it was "over the top impressive" and "not surprise me if the total volume of this beast is over 40K cubic feet." For Melkor, May 2015, Taylor wrote the main trunk is 33,500 cu. ft.. Del Norte Titan main trunk is 33,670 cu. ft. with 9.5% volume from 43 reiterated trunks. Iluvatar has 12.3% in over 100 reiterated stems and the main trunk is 32,890 cu. ft. In light of new giants found, Grove of Titans in Jedediah Smith no longer has the largest coast redwoods. Basically, 2008 opened a new era of discovery.


Explorers of the Redwood Coast

Among the explorer network, Ron Hildebrant goes back years with Michael Taylor. After Dyerville Giant of Humboldt Redwoods fell March 24, 1991, after a strorm, Michael and Ron teamed-up to calculate height using marks on the adjacent "Cat Scratch" redwood. Dyerville Giant was discovered around 1966 by University of California scientist Paul Zinke and graduate student Allen Stangenberger. Taylor and Hildebrant realized the fallen Dyerville Giant was actually an unknown potential world record.

In February 1993, by phone, Zinke told Michael Taylor to watch for his other finds tagged 12, 13, 14, or the Three Peas in a Pod. Taylor and Hildebrant first became friends around Christmas 1990, and their first expedition together was February 1991 in Humboldt Redwoods State Park searching for tallest redwoods. Between that winter and the next summer is when Taylor began his quest for largest coast redwoods. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park was Taylor's starting point.

Michael Taylor and Steve Sillett met autumn 1994 after Taylor spotted a super tall coast redwood. When Sillett arrived with a climbing team to measure, he noticed a small #12 tag, meaning it must be one of Zinke's Peas in the Pod. This is the same redwood they named Telperion. The group also spent a night up in it high canopy during a small rain storm, sleeping in customized hammocks called Tree Boats, acquired from New Tribe of Oregon. Telperion fell during the next strong storm 1 or 2 months later. The team may have escaped death by a matter of weeks. By 1996, Sillett climbed and confirmed Taylor's Mendocino redwood as a new world record for that era; 367.5 ft. And they found others together around the same time like Pipe Dream in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

1987, Sillett's first exposure to the famous redwoods overlapped enrollment at Reed College where he studied botany. He eventually went camping at Prairie Creek, involving his legendary free-climb of a big redwood with friend Marwood. They used a smaller adjacent redwood's limbs to reach 70 feet, then leaped into the big one, and to the top. They obviously made their way down, but with some conflict with yellow jackets. The same week, Taylor, who had already experienced the redwoods at a younger age, was 15 miles away with a tour group in Redwood National Park.

In 1996, Sillett was hired to teach at Humboldt State University, and moved to Arcata from Corvallis, Oregon, three years after meeting Taylor. Sillett was very busy but managed to squeeze in a few hikes and bushwhacks with Taylor. Sillett also applied to Redwood National Parks at that time to climb coast redwoods for research. That is when Redwood National Parks established a permit process for scientists. There was no established climbing permit process for redwoods before. This is when the study and climbing began in Iluvatar and Atlas Grove redwoods. Sillett already knew Robert Van Pelt, a long-time explorer of other Pacific NW forests. He contacted VanPelt, taught him redwood climbing techniques, then Robert (Bob) joined the Atlas Grove study project. In 1997, Sillett called Taylor and started teaming with him to explore Redwood National Park on foot for more tallest redwoods. 1998 is the year Sillett and Taylor discovered Lost Monarch up in Jedediah Smith, the largest coast redwood known for that era.

Soon after in 2000, Atkins heard about Taylor. They met and teamed together for many explorations including discovery of the world records Helios and Hyperion in 2006. Earlier, Atkins broke the world record himself in 2000, with Statosphere Giant in Humboldt Redwoods State Park; it displaced the Mendocino coast redwood for at least four years. Together they found at least another hundred redwoods 350 ft. and taller.

We should note Paul Zahl, who, in 1963, led a small National Geographic expedition to what later became Redwood National Park. Finding no world record at first, he flew back east, but returned shortly and discovered the Libbey redwood: a world record that held the title for quite a few years. Zahl seems one of the shortest-lived redwood explorers, but I think the effort deserves attention. His discovery was also useful leverage to help secure Redwood National Park. Much of their quest did not have the present-day trail system to get around. He practically had to bushwhack the midst and banks of Redwood Creek. They finally found an old logging road to get into new spots.

Most of these discoverers are named in Forest Giants of the Pacifc Coast by Robert Van Pelt, or Richard Preston's non-fiction redwood adventure book. This is part of the network in a nutshell. Check out my review page on that Preston book because another explorer of a different sort is mentioned: G. F. Beranek.



Around 2008, I was contacted by Steve Sillett and Michael Taylor independently about one or two months apart. Taylor invited me to explore and explained his methods. Sillett invited me to check out potential study plots and explore with him and Dr. Robert Van Pelt (aka The Lorax). Eventually Sillett offered me part time work assisting Chris Atkins to measure other tallest known redwoods associated with a LiDAR project. In those years and following, I found new notable or record trees with them, found a few on my own, and met other people involved with the research network: Marie Antoinne, Jim Spickler, Giacomo Renzullo, Anthony Ambrose, Dr. Hiroaki Ishii and Kenneth Fisher. This is where I joined the redwood forest network.

For the LiDAR redwoods, Chris Atkins preferred camping, and we spent many evenings enjoying campfires and talking about the day's adventures as fog rolled-in over the redwood park. The few times I helped Steve Sillett, cabin lodging was in style, with home-cooked meals.

Later, Zane Moore and John Montague entered the scene. Zane especially for albino redwoods, and John particulary for large coast redwoods. As I lean a bit more to photography locations in the redwoods in the future, I can see Zane or John picking up steam through remaining unexplored valleys of Redwood National and State Parks. John doesn't really know much about evergreens like Michael Taylor, but he still has a keen eye for measuring. I still have strong interest for exploring, but started photography as a profession through my redwoods experience and plan to focus on that more for a while, including getting more prints into redwood coast galleries.


Image ... giants encountered during the new era of discovery

Largest Coast Redwoods of Redwood National and State Parks



Leaks and Breaking with Tradition

Some remarkable redwood photos and stats were withheld after learning about a few people who triggered damage around various redwoods, so the full extent of new discovery wasn't unveiled. We know the source of a few leaks. More is written about this from the Screaming Titans.

People inquired if we found a coast redwood exceeding General Sherman. The question is best left unanswered because the Sierra Nevada is better prepared for concentrated crowds. People can be content with old landmarks like the Big Tree in Prairie Creek or National Geographic Redwood in Redwood National Park.

In light of all this, we decided not to nominate Grogan's Fault or others to American Forests, breaking with tradition. Year after year for decades, the trend was that big tree "hunters" nominate virtually every new discovery to American Forests. Supposedly a "stamp of approval" assumed to make it bonafide. But some of us realized that no stamp of approval is needed nor need to reveal everything. Actually, there are a good number of people who prefer some mystery anyway.

Also, Taylor, Atkins and Hildebrant became so accurate with measuring the past 10 years, there's little need for climbers. And American Forests would be dependent on those men's measurements anyway. It's actually their kind of ability puts a stamp of approval on American Forests when we think about it. And this is not the nature of new scientific study that needs much peer review. It's available using lasers to know a redwood's minimum volume for "raising the bar" ... If maximum volume is not needed, there's no pressing need to escalate activity. Even with other discoveries like Tsunami, my own measurements have been right on the money. The Oregon Sitka spruce measure debacle by Ascending the Giants also suggested breaking with tradition. And I've seen Taylor measure within 1 millimeter of a climb team's tape drop.



About redwoods people encounter and emails


People often send emails about redwoods they encounter hiking or bushwhacking, wondering "does it have a name?" ... what does this tag mean? ... has it been found before? In a nutshell, almost nobody except Montague or Moore found something noteworthy that Taylor, Sillett, Atkins or Hidebrandt hadn't already seen years ago. For example, one coast redwood mentioned by Redwood-Ed and measured by John Montague in 2016 was already trunk-wrapped with Lowell Cottle in October 2008, and viewed again with Chris Atkins in 2011. And most likely by Taylor & Sillett prior to 2003. The name Redwood-Ed seemed appropriate for that vigorous redwood though, since Redwood Ed (Gilbert) is known to flaunt some horsepower in his modified Porsche. And personally, I enjoy redwood names - it's fun.

Unless somebody finds something bonafide in a rare size class never heard of, discoverers or researchers may not have interest to check it out. Occassionally an old discovery is worth measuring more completely. 99% of the time, people write about stuff that's been seen and archived. John Montegue wants to keep track of every 18 ft. dbh coast redwood. But most people don't realize how far off roads and trails they need to explore these days to enter unexplored territory.

Enjoy your adventure !!


Image - redwood found recently with Chris Atkins. A rock solid cylindrical stovepipe.

2016 Coast Redwood discovery update


The Permits

Redwood National and State Parks expressed they prefer permits for activity like wrapping tapes around trunks or using a laser rangefinder to "gather data". So I applied for permits in 2014 and 2015, and wrote an end-of-the-year report requested for each permit. It's worth mentioning several discoveries were found just before or after the permit and I am not obligated to keep those few undisclosed, but I still keep the location to myself or exploring partners. These days I am priimarily taking scenic forest photos which does not require a permit. If I find a champion, it would be by coincidence.

A good number of other folks are searching and data gathering. Dozens it seems. Virtually all of them decided to stay under the radar and dodge the permits.

Redwood research permit


$1000.00 donation to Jedediah Smith & Grove of Titans

This is a copy of the letter and check sent to the CA Department of Parks and Recreation as a contribution to contend with environmental impact in the Grove of Titans at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. For their purpose I am listed as the contributor. But a large part of this came from someone else we express a big thank you for support (Mark G.)

The primary intent of the donation is for signs, trail or other needs in the grove at the park supervisor's discretion. I added some extra cash to the check to compensate for gofundme's fee, so the final contribution matches every penny given.

Photos showing impact are provided on my Screaming Titans redwood page.


Image: check from M. D. Vaden to DPR for Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. If anybody else cares to donate, contact Redwood National and State Parks for details.

Donation 1000 dollars to Jedediah Smith Grove of Titans