In my last article I mentioned that at the site of the two mine dumps was a pine with axe marks seemingly marking the spot, which sounds stupid because the mine dumps were sufficient enough for that... so why mark the tree? Well I also didn't have an increment borer with me that day but I made a return trip to core the tree to gain at least an idea as to when the axe marks were made...
Based on the core which was incomplete due to heart rot, the average rings on the outer circumference was about 40 rings per inch, the first thing to determine is whether the tree is old enough to bear an authentic mark from the Nunez expedition. Based on the overgrowth SINCE the axe marks were made, with an estimated overgrowth of 5 to 6 inches, about 240 years have past since the axe marks were made.
This opportunity enabled me to visit another tree I found almost 20 years back, one I hade always questioned its authenticity. It was long over due for sampling, but unfortunately the tree had died since my last visit which has been some 5 or 6 years... The Carving is simple, and really did not lend any new insight and this perhaps is why I never cored it. The carving says, IWDP OCT 1736, almost 40 years prior to the Nunez expedition and 40 years prior to Escalante supposed only expedition by the Spanish into.
Photos from 1999 when the tree was still alive.
Now I know... I have heard it all concerning the age of aspens, the so called experts will tell you and aspen does not live more than 150 years, this is rubbish and has been proven to many times to count, the oldest aspen I have personally sampled, followed by an expert in the field, was just short of 500 years. I would be happy... no thrilled! to prove this to the skeptic...
The aspen above being dead when I arrived just a few days ago, makes it difficult to sample, fortunately another appearing to be about the same diameter, age etc... was just 5 feet away, with a 12 inch radius and focusing on the outer rings, I counted an average of 30 to 35 rings per inch and ignored the early years of the tree as the rings in early growth are larger, I estimated the age of the dead tree at about 300 + years. Now on aspens you cannot date the carving itself like you can a pine, but at least we do know the tree was at least 40 to 50 years of age when it was carved, ASSUMING the date and carving are authentic, a perfect age of an aspen for carving.
As it appears today.
What does IWDP stand for? If authentic, who was it in the Hoyt Peak area in 1736? Trappers? Spanish? French maybe?