Saturday, June 24, 2017

Homage to the Kalaloch Cedar

Olympic National Park

"Big Cedar Tree" is labeled on the official park map that the ranger gave us, so how could we not stop?  We were surprised that we were one of only three cars in the parking lot.  After all, the turn-out was just off the busy 101 loop, north of the Kalaloch Lodge.

This Western Red Cedar, we learned, partially collapsed in a violent storm three years ago.  Even so, it is considered one of the Olympic Peninsula's Big Eight.  After seeing it, I can understand why.  It is still majestic.
Nearly 80% of the trees in the Olympic National Park will meet their demise in the raging storms that blow through here in the winter months.  Even the giant ones.  This cedar made it nearly 1,000 years before it fell.  That fact alone sends shivers up and down my spine.  1,000 years!  As a sapling, it lived during the time of the Anasazi cliff dwellers.  Leif Erikson was landing on the other side of the continent.  Other European explorers would follow three hundred years later.  By then it was just a youngster.
Did ancient Native Americans find refuge underneath it?  Did it wonder at the first tourist in a Model T?  Did it get word of war and revolutions and industrial marvels?  1,000 years of history!  We are considered lucky to witness a hundred.

The Kalaloch Cedar would reach a height of 175 feet and a diameter of nearly 20.  Even though the wind cut the tree in half, it will continue to live as a nurse for other giants.  Its red roots and burls are still an impressive sight.

Many people make seeing all the Eight Giants a priority when they travel here.  I saw only two this trip:  This one and the Sitka Spruce along Lake Quinault.  I have now put the Alaska Cedar,  Engelmann Spruce,  Coast Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Mountain Hemlock and Grand Fir all on my Bucket List.  It means I will be returning to this forest many many times during my short 100 years of life!

And that's fine with me.

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