Project Description

Mountains Walking

The Long Journey of Mt. Mitchell’s Ancient Forests

For Sierra magazine

During the late Pleistocene, 18,000 years ago, the northern part of this continent was locked in ice. Spruce and fir trees, climate refugees of their era, shifted their range southward from Canada to what are now called the Black Mountains in North Carolina. When the glaciers retreated in the Holocene, the trees moved to Southern Appalachia’s highest peaks. In Mount Mitchell and the Black Mountains: An Environmental History of the Highest Peaks in Eastern America, Timothy Silver, a historian at Appalachian State University, calls this “the great tree migration.”

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