Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lone Tree Above Rock Creek

Rock Creek is not a unique name for a creek. This Rock Creek is located southeast of Wenatchee and cuts a deep canyon into the south end of Badger Mountain as it descends down to the Columbia River. For those versed in the ice age floods, Rock Creek is an exception. This canyon was not carved by ice age floods; the flood waters either passed down the Columbia to the west (late floods) or to the east down Moses Coulee (early floods) or further east down Grand Coulee (lots of floods).
 
DEM of Rock Creek area 
 
While investigating a slope and soils on the east side of the canyon I enjoyed the view across the canyon with the Columbia below and the Cascades on the horizon. The lone evergreen tree across the canyon was a combination of scenic and intriguing. The tree is on a south facing slope and hence a bit of an outlier. Perhaps some water seeps are present or snow blowing off the uplands above created the moisture needed to support the tree. And further the tree somehow managed not to burn from past fires and was spared being cut down.
 

I could only speculate about the tree - not even sure if it was a Douglas fir or ponderosa or some other evergreen. The canyon and time did not permit a visit, but I did enjoy admiring its lone stand (it does have a nearby tree a bit up and over the ridge) and the view. The slope it lives on would require another visit. 

I took one last look back at my lone tree as I headed to another site and tried to capture the big landscape setting of the tree. Rock Creek canyon, the Columbia River, the aluminum smelter on the river, Jump Off Ridge across the river and Mission Ridge with snow on the horizon. On and all a splendid morning. 
 

1 comment:

Geoffrey Middaugh said...

My speculation is that it is Ponderosa (Pinus ponderosa). It's a relic most likely and it would be interesting to see how fire scarred it and its progeny would be. Also, when you get there, collect viable seed, because these outliers were once on the edge of the low end precip zone (12-14 inch and up) in which trees don't make it. Ecologically the genetic material from a relic like this is valuable. I've seen this in eastern Oregon, where there was isolated outlier trees/stands just like this. That zone has been steadily moving up slope for about 100 years now.