I had a really successful walk in Atwell Mill on Sunday. I'd gone up for the weekend to show some of the local cabin owners where the Large Dean Tree was, and after the Saturday tour, I had the whole day Sunday with no plans. For some time I'd been thinking it might be profitable to walk directly from the area where the Large Dean Tree is to where the Diamond and AD trees are, believing there must be something worthwhile between them.
I hiked to the Above Dean Tree, then got into my exploring mode. I zigzagged across the ridges, gradually rising on an angle across the slope and switching back so as to canvass the entire area, looking for trees of any significant size. As I came over one rise, I saw a tree in the distance with a big bole. Getting closer, I discovered it had a huge arm on it, and my hopes rose. Flint's book had a picture of a sequoia he named the Arm Tree. Many people had been looking for that tree for a long time, and no one seemed to know where it was. Someone had told one of our group that it must have fallen a couple of decades ago. My approach, coincidentally, was from nearly the same angle as the picture in Flint's book, so the recognition came on all in a rush. It matched. I had located the iconic Arm Tree! It was no longer lost.
The tree is on a very steep section of the hill, and it has one of the biggest arms in existence. Coincidence? I'll have to cogitate on that. Due to the extremely sloped section of the ridge it's on, I had a tough time getting my tape around it. The ground was slippery with loose pine needles around the base of the tree, and I kept falling down as I circled it. Then I couldn’t find a branch long enough to help get the tape measure belted straight around its diameter on the low side. I had to circle the tree several times. When I finally did get the tape belt around its waist properly level, it measured about 62 feet in circumference at chest height on the high side. Near as makes no difference to being a 20-foot-diameter tree. It has a big burn on the uphill side, so the tree would be even bigger if the tape measure was ellipsoided to cover that missing wood.
The big arm on the tree, which comes out about 40 feet up the bole, is also elliptical. It's about 10 feet major diameter and about half that minor diameter. It might be the largest major-diameter limb that exists on any tree. In addition, the tree splits just above where this arm forks out into three separate limbs, each of which is an impressive-sized branch in its own right. Without measuring and looking carefully at all three, you might not be able to tell which of them is the main trunk. But they make the Arm Tree more interesting even aside from its namesake limb. It must have some interesting history.
By the end of the six-hour off-trail walk, I was dirty and tired, I had ripped out the knees of my pants, I got some good scratches, and I ran out of water. Nevertheless, I might have been the happiest guy in the county, practically bursting with the desire to show all my fellow sequoia hunters in Atwell that we now had a location on the long-lost Arm Tree!