Sunday, October 19, 2008

Zeacliff summit showing the height of the fir-spruce overstory, September 2008

This is the Twinway Trail as it crosses over the broad summit of Zeacliff. The spruce and fir trees are overspreading the blueberry bushes and herbaceous plants including clintonia, bunchberry and several mosses. The balsams and spruce are efficient competitors for the enormous amount of sunlight available here. Looking at the granite ledge gives you an idea of how thin the soil is but it's enough to support the plant community. Granite erodes gradually providing a consistent supply of nutrients available to the plants and makes up for the thin soil. It is likely that all the soil on Zeacliff was destroyed in the 1903 fire. The granite ledges gradually supported plantlife which has, over the past 105 years, finally become established. 1903 was one of the worst years for forest fires in New Hampshire history. Many summits including Carter Dome were burned over and left treeless and much of the soil was destroyed as well. (See Applachia, June 1953)

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