We did a three-day trip to Mountain Home Grove last weekend. I know there are many sequoia fans out there who are very interested in how the Mountain Home Grove fared after the Castle Fire. I finally got a chance to go up and see for myself last weekend. All tolled it came through better than I feared after seeing some of what the conflagration had wrought in other groves. I will be posting more later, after I’ve gone through all of last weekend’s pictures and data, but here is the bare-bones report on which trees have survived and their condition.
Below is a list of unofficial names of the Mountain Home trees I am familiar with and their post-Castle Fire status. The area around Balch Park was only lightly damaged. The most deeply consumed area was the ridge above Genesis where the Japan Tree stump lay and the Bonsai Tree grew.
Currently on the Largest Trees List:
#7 Genesis: lost a large portion of its top and many branches. It was right on the fire line, so it sustained significant damage to both the base and the upper foliage. Overall volume will probably drop about 5,000 cubic feet. I’ll report more details after I have finished crunching the numbers. As a sad note, I had to move more debris from around the base of this sequoia to get my measurements than I did for any other I looked at this trip. This was such a large tree to begin with, it left a tremendous amount of broken-off branches and remnants strewn about its base.
#15 Summit Road Tree: lost a bit in the top. I will have to crunch its numbers to see how far down the list it will fall.
#16 Euclid: looks virtually untouched. It has now probably been promoted to the largest tree in the grove.
#20 Adam: looks virtually untouched
#29 Methuselah: looks virtually untouched
#38 Old Jobe: burned a bit more around the base than formerly, it lost a few feet on every basal circumference. Above the base he seems no more damaged than before. He has a long, thin, and wavy flying buttress reminiscent of the one the Ishi Giant formerly sported. (I’ll be recalculating his volume.)
#39 Allen Russell: looks virtually untouched
#43 Dogwood Meadow Leaner: singed around the base. Since several feet of debris deeply covering its base were burned away, exposing more of the tree that was hiding under the mound of duff, this tree’s volume will actually increase. I believe I have enough data to calculate its new volume.
#44 Balch Park Ridgetop: singed around the base but not harmed
#50 Three-Fingered Jack: Its base was colossally bad before the Castle fire, and I honestly can’t see that it took much additional damage. It still looks as bad as it always did, aside from its own top’s wreckage lying on the ground around it and the monochromatically blackening of its previously cinnamon bark. Perhaps it’s a study in flame-proofing through excess carbon buildup. The top took quite a lot of damage and broke off below the mutilated namesake limbs, but high enough that it will not affect its volume much. It will probably not move much on the list. However, the pile of debris around it is a serious hazard and needs cleanup in the worst way. Future generations will not understand its name.
#57 Drive-By Lace Meadow: some additional burn damage on the base of the tree, but above it looks untouched. Ground perimeter lost just inches.
Trees Not Currently on the Largest List:
Bonsai Tree: burned everywhere and holey as Swiss cheese up high. Possibly the biggest loss to the grove, both conceptually and in cubic feet of wood.
Bud Prouty: singed on bottom, but not harmed, although I could not find the sign
Centennial Stump: still looks like a big stump, just smaller and more fire blackened
Dogwood Meadow Double Trees: looking more shattered than ever. The left one lost a lot in the fire several winters ago, but now it’s only 85 feet tall snag (more of a used-up match stick) ending in a burned stub. The right one’s height is down to 207 feet and it looks more than a bit peaked itself. Sadly, this pair—one of the most beautiful scenes in the grove—is now a shadow of its former glory.
Enterprise Mill Tree: looks virtually untouched
Eve Snag: looks virtually untouched
Five Sisters: three of the five still reach 200 feet; the fourth ends around 110 feet but still has foliage. The fifth sister, the one in the center, oddly enough, burned through and broken off about 90 feet up, is likely a total loss. Another name that has become obsolete.
Harlequin Trees by Three-Fingered Jack: some burn cavities around their base, but mostly intact. The black bottom quarter of the trees encroach on their distinctive coloring many feet up.
Hedrick Pond area’s largest tree snapped off and drove its head into the earth like a dagger. Most of its length is lying broken right beside it. It’s a very dangerous area right now, in need of cleanup. Don’t go there.
Hercules Tree (aka Hercules House): looks like it survived intact. No more significantly damaged than from any of its previous catastrophic misadventures.
Hollow Log: looks virtually untouched
Japan Tree Stump (aka Ram's Horn Stump): burned to the point of unrecognizability. It’s no longer the interesting photo op it used to be.
John Jordan: looks virtually untouched
Lady Alice: looks virtually untouched
Lady Elizabeth Stump: looks virtually untouched
Large hollow base tree on the ridge above Japan Tree Stump: burned and snapped off very short
Los Angeles (fallen tree): not much left. Will not be cut for any more exhibitions or signs.
Merle F. Harp: looks virtually untouched
Mothman: Burned up and down and all through. It wouldn’t take much effort to turn it into a Dead Giant Tunnel Tree like the first one in Tuolumne.
Mountain Home Monarch: somewhat burned around its base, it has several cavities, one of which will actually hold water like the Bear’s Bathtub Tree (though smaller) or the Ride- Through Trees (though bigger). The Monarch seems undamaged above the basal cavities, and it will remain over 30,000 cubic feet. I took measurements and will work up its remaining volume when time allows. I couldn't find the climbing wire that was there previously.
Near Genesis: more base damage and top damage but it’s not totally bereft of leaves. It will live, but it still looks like a disaster.
Near Swedish Stump Tree: looks virtually untouched
Nero Stump: looks virtually untouched
Octopus: looks virtually untouched
Oliver Twist: was lightly burned around the base just before the Castle Fire, which may have helped him. The base and dbh circumferences both lost about 5". He's untouched aside from that.
Sawed-Off Tree: looks virtually untouched
Small Wishbone Tree (on Summit Road): looks virtually untouched
Swedish Stump: more charred than before, but still a large stump and mostly intact
Vestigial Snag (near Genesis): still standing, though I can’t imagine how
Windfall log that has been being sectioned lately: still there but blackened all round. Future sectioning will provide only good heartwood pieces.
Wishbone Tree: looks virtually untouched
I will be providing an update soon with final numbers but wanted to get the status of each of our favorite trees on here for those who are interested.
The worst damaged trees are shown below:
Summit Road Tree
Three Fingered Jack Tree
5 Sisters and Mothman
Dogwood Meadow Double Tree, Hedrick Pond Tree, and Old Jobe