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 Old Growth Forests and ID 
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Mountaineer
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Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2015 5:46 pm
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Location: Newmarket, NH
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 Old Growth Forests and ID
I think it goes without saying that wandering the woods creates a desire in oneself to achieve a better understanding of the environment that's being walked through. Walking is a slow means of travel. Even when you're tired or trying to move quickly, focused on the movement, and not the surroundings, your surroundings are still as close as your next breath. The amble is the best way to take it all in, but often when a point A to B is the goal, an amble can be lost in pace. One does not walk the woods when doing this, they walk the trail.

I thought about ways I could go about finding out more about the woods. I grew up on a farm, and I was a Girl Scout. Nature is not some foreign concept to me. I can tell a maple leaf from an oak. Pick out some foliage. But I do not have the depth of knowledge to answer my own questions when I see something that sparks my curiosity. I find this infuriating. Why are these trees growing here in this way. I see a stone fence but the woods are fairly thick. What's the story? What is this leafy green plant with small white flowers? I don't feel confident identifying a lot of trees.

Auditing a basic dendrology class at UNH is $500.00. Ugh. I don't have that kind of money to sink into a hobby. It's one of the reason hiking is so awesome as a hobby. A good pair of shoes, water container, first aid and skin/bug protection is all one has to really invest for a long return on price. Past the super expensive UNH class, I have had little luck in finding free, cheap, or otherwise classes.

I can take the route of self education, and as a librarian that's not hard to do. A lot of this was sparked by the donation of Reading the Forested Landscape by Tom Wessels. Man, this is a cool book! And so well written.

Am I alone in the curiosity of wanting to read the landscape? Are other hikers like this? What have you done? I'd love to hear how other nature goers approach this aspect of getting into wilderness. Hiking often feels like the steps we take to get to the ledge, the view, the end. What about the space in between?

Edit: kind of forget the whole reason for writing this. I've heard Dicey's trail up to Passaconway goes through old growth. is this true? What other good "old growth" spots would be good to see.


Last edited by Pirr on Sun Jul 12, 2015 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Jul 12, 2015 5:12 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman
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Joined: Sat Sep 05, 2009 7:35 pm
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Location: south of the notches
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 Re: Old Growth Forests and ID
Don't know of specific courses, but most colleges (SNHU, BC, Dartmouth, Harvard) offer free non-credit online courses. Perhaps they offer one that would satisfy some of your curiosity.

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Sun Jul 12, 2015 6:12 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman
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Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:12 pm
Posts: 1329
Location: Somersworth NH
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 Re: Old Growth Forests and ID
Nice to see a new poster who's not a spambot. Welcome.

I'm interested too, and have learned a lot. . . but my starting point was literally not knowing a Maple from an Oak. See, my older sister was a girl scout, but I wasn't able to join her and was just totally jealous (I did tag along on the cookie selling trips, at least).

I bought a cheap color laminated tri-fold guide at the Mountain Wanderer in Lincoln (I assume you know that, yes?). Also, the Urban Forestry Center (I think it's called) in Portsmouth is really a pretty cool place and has number coded trees with id's and what not. If you're too much past entry-level, though, these will only take you so far, and you may already be past their scope of helpfulness.


Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:50 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman
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Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:21 am
Posts: 1820
Location: Lynn MA
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 Re: Old Growth Forests and ID
I find that taking a lot of pictures and using Google helps me a long the way with identifying various flora. Wikipedia is an OK resource looking up different biomes and what populated them. Of course you know reading is the best way to learn.

Old growth in my experience is fine at higher elevations where the tree growth was stunted and wasn't worth logging. The upper half of the skookumchick is fantastic for this. Really, just find where they didn't log in the early 20th and 19th centuries to find old growth.

As far as your ID. you should be able to tap into that anywhere. Winter hiking I find to be the easiest time/place.


Sun Jul 12, 2015 10:21 pm
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Peak Bagger
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Joined: Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:44 pm
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Location: Hudson, Mass
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 Re: Old Growth Forests and ID
I have that book too. It surely gives you a new way to look at your surroundings. After reading it I find myself paying a little more attention to the woods instead of the trail.
I hadn't read it before doing Passaconaway. Now I want to go back and check out that Forrest again.


Mon Jul 13, 2015 4:57 am
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Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:40 pm
Posts: 1667
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 Re: Old Growth Forests and ID
Some of what I've read here and other places shows me that some folks are reading the landscape. Some of them are taking a different approach. They are "historians." They are checking out the interaction of humans and the environment over the many years. There are fire tower fans and those who seek through the Pemi for the remains of the logging camps.

I have often thought about how those of us who are slower by design are seeing things others may be missing. It took me longer to get up the Edmands Path a few weeks ago, but on the way up I noticed what I thought was a tiny white violet in the middle of a small stream. Although it was rather late for violets, it had not bloomed yet. Hours later, on the way down, I looked for it. And it had bloomed.


Tue Jul 14, 2015 10:32 pm
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Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:23 pm
Posts: 2264
Location: Lakes Region, NH
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 Re: Old Growth Forests and ID
As I've gotten older I'm constantly reading the landscape. I notice weather systems alot more, that come and go. I notice that there are hardly any monarch butterflies on my horseback rides through the field of flowers, thanks to habitat loss and pestisides, fewer bats in my barn due to white nose syndrome, fewer flute singing wood thrush and veeries, thanks to development and cowbirds, which sucks since thrushes are my favorite, fewer moose roaming through my backyard, due to ticks killing them off, on and on nature talks and is probably the Canary in the Coal mine.

My husband has taught me alot about tree identification, as well as fern identification which we play a game while hiking of what's this and why. I have every flower and tree book imaginable, but never use them. But I think it would be easy to find info on you tube, or through unh extension offices. I'll have to search out that book you mentioned, sounds good.

Lovely ash borer killing off the ash trees and did anyone notice the pines got hit with a cyclical fungus this year? All the needles dropped off in june, but seem to be recovering nicely now.

If your looking for a good place for virgin forests, hike the castle ravine trail, the area you pass through on your was to the ravine is like stepping back in time, simply amazing. I think the old growth in passaconaway is deep in the bowl, where you would have to bushwhack to. It may show some on the trail, but I think you could walk by it and not know it. Sorry for the rant, it makes me sad to see how rapidly nature is changing :(


Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:16 am
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