Gavan Hill Forests

Gavan Hill is a fairly nondescript mountain that rises to the north of downtown. It doesn’t have the sharp peaks, extensive high country, or steep avalanche prone slopes of many of the other mountains close to town. However, over the years I’ve noticed interesting variations in the color and texture of the forest. Especially in some kinds of light, the differences between species are really brought out.

While over at John Brown’s Beach recently, I happened to see a stand of spruce trees that I had not noticed before. A relatively narrow swath that appears to be several (mature) trees wide angles up the slope, and as far as I could tell there were few non-spruces in the mix. The patch can be seen starting just a little ways up from the water tank (which is the gray-ish boxy looking structure at the highest part of the development above the “tu” in the copyright notice) in the picture above. The spruce trees appear a bit grayer than the other species, and the stand goes uphill and to the left from where it starts. I zoomed in for the photo at the end of this post, and although it shows the stand from the lower extent near the bottom right corner to the upper extent near the top left, in some ways it’s actually hard for me to make out as a separate stand. Perhaps this is one of those cases where the old expression about forests and trees is applicable.

I am not sure what would have led to such a stand, but I am curious. I am guessing it has something to do with the ground, perhaps an old slide, or an exceptionally well drained area? I’m not sure what conditions allow spruce to exclude hemlock, if that is what’s happening. Perhaps at some point I’ll make an effort to go check it out and see what I can learn.

3 thoughts on “Gavan Hill Forests”

  1. Thanks Brendan – I took that picture on 20 March of this year. It’s been a low snow year (my kids and I hiked up to the ridge on Gavan Hill in late February and there was only a foot or two of snow at that point), but fortunately we’ve had a bit more moisture (and snow up high) recently, otherwise the water levels could be pretty low come late summer.

  2. gotcha – yeah i know there was concern about water last year. good to know things are in better shape. although sounds like a warm january – so cool you can go back to old records and have your old notes to reflect back on. really valuable, interesting stuff

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