A legendary tree in the Olympic National Park has become a victim to this wet and wild March weather. The tree, best known as the Kalaloch Big Cedar, was split in two by the latest round of storms to slam into the Washington Coast. Heavy wind, combined with the half a foot of rain that has fallen on the western slopes of the Olympic Mountains over the last 5 days, saturated and twisted this already gnarly behemoth until it could take no more. With a noise that no one heard, the giant of Kalaloch is forever altered.
At 19.8 feet in diameter and standing at 175 feet tall, this thousand year old tree was one of the most beautiful and unique spots in the entire Olympic National Park. With roots and burls making this tree look like it belonged in in another time on earth. This cedar watched over as the first European explorers set foot on the shores of the Olympic Peninsula. It watched the Hoh defend its land against the Spanish and British in the late 1700’s. It stood its ground, even when nearly every other tree in the region was harvested for America’s growth. It stood through generations of tourists climbing on and around her base. It stood during my entire childhood, giving me an incredible chance to see this giant cedar in person.
Sadly, on March 8th, strong winds split this majestic cedar in two, taking away an icon of the Olympic National Park. No more will children be able to climb on the roots and wrap their arms around the trunk. Instead, we lose a tall tree that will eventually be forgotten about by all but those of us lucky enough to see, smell and touch it in person. For those of you lucky enough to spend time around this tree, you know of its awesomeness and power. The Kalaloch Cedar was one of those destination in the Olympic National Park that was indescribable, with pictures hardly giving justice to the amazing sight that it was.
While the tree itself isn’t completely dead, it has split in half and will, more than likely, have a very slow death. While the passing of this giant is sad, the inevitable death of this tree will bring more life to the region. The trunk of the tree will eventually provide the protection and nourishment needed to support new trees. The new tree roots will grow around the old cedar’s remains, allowing this legend to continue to support life in the forest as a Nurse-Log. Becoming a nurse log ensures us that the spirit of this great tree lives on, and hopefully will provide life to numerous trees just as might as this one was in its life.
Farewell, old giant. You will be missed.
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