All of the hemlocks in Linville Gorge are dead, now. Every one of them, with the exception of a few small Carolina hemlock saplings that have come up in the last few years.
Oh my god! I can only assume it was the Wooly Adelgid that was responsible. Hard to believe such a forest could be decimated in just a few years!
Yep. The adelgid got them all. You can find a few hemlocks standing that still have a handful of needles on them, but both species of hemlock are effectively extinct in Linville now. As they are all up and down the main spine of the Appalachians from Virginia southward into extreme northeast Georgia. The bug hasn't crossed over the ridges to the west yet--there are still healthy stands on the Cumberland plateau and in other areas west and south of the Smokies. But it's only a matter of time, now.