High Pressure in the Siskiyou Wilderness
The route began along the South Fork of the Smith River in a grove of massive Port Orford-cedars and Douglas-firs—pictured here with the largest Port Orford-cedar I have seen in California.
Impressive Douglas-firs abound along the South Fork of the Smith River
After walking along the Smith River on the South Kelsey Trail, the Summit Valley Trail climbs to the high country. Here I got a view to the Siskiyou Crest, through a multitude of conifers, with the Smith River far below.
Another mystery in the Smith River Country are the lodgepole pines inhabiting the mid-elevations. The cones are somewhere between the beach pine (ssp. contorta) and the Sierra lodgepole (ssp. murrayana) characterized by thicker scales and shorter, reflexed cones. There are several hypotheses as to why they grow as they do but most likely this serotinous nature is due to a frequent fire return interval.
Western white pine bark.
Somewhere below the Summit trail, about 3 miles from the Kelsey trail, a population of Alaska-cedar persists at 3100 feet. The survival here is due to the proximity to the Pacific Ocean which nurtures a cool and wet microsite. I did not find these trees this trip, but will be back to take a cross-country route and look again.
X marks the sport of where the reported Alaska-cedar reside.
I was treated to an amazing sunset on the return drive to Humboldt Bay.