In March of last year winter storms caused a significant portion of the Big Cedar near Kalaloch Lodge to break off – a loss of almost half of its hight. This was rather a surprise to us and we decided before we left Kalaloch we’d stop by and visit the old giant one more time.
When we arrived we parked and walked down the short path to the giant cedar, or perhaps, more apropos, what was left of it. The ranger’s comment that approximately half of the tree had broken off in a storm was fairly accurate and seeing the fallen sections lying at the base of the tree was sad to say the least. By some accounts, the tree was almost 20 fee in diameter, approximately 1000 years old, and stood approximately 175 feet tall. The tree broke on March 9, 2014 during a five-day heavy rain and wind storm.
We first visited the Kalaloch Big Cedar in the spring of 2005 (March) on our last day at the Kalaloch cabin we rented. Except for occasional breaks, it rained off and on for the time we were at the cabin and on the last morning, we decided to see the Kalaloch Big Cedar. It was a short drive and as we to walk around the huge base of the tree, the rain stopped and within minutes, the sun came out and began burning off the clouds that were ever-present during out mini-vacation at the cabin. I hurried back to the car, grabbed the tripod and began taking a series of pictures so I could make a panoramic of the base of the tree. I barely had every set up, shot a quick series and by then the clouds were gone. I printed a large panoramic of the Kalaloch Big Cedar and it hangs today in our dentist’s office in Puyallup. I had it hanging for years in office before I retired and I was constantly amazed by the number of people telling me that they “knew” that tree or that they had visited it when they when they had visited the coast. When I offered it to the dentist, they thought it would be a good idea have it displayed and when I see them, they tell me that many, many people have also commented that they knew the tree or that they’ve visited it as well. It will be a shock to the dentist folks when I tell them the Kalaloch Big Cedar was damaged in the March 2014 storm and is now just a little over its original height.
While it’s sad that such a magnificent tree has been damaged with significant loss to the storm, I also understand that it is all part of nature’s life cycle. While the tree is no longer the magnificent giant I, and my others, remember it, the still standing portion of the tree provides support to other trees growing next, or even inside the hollowed out trunk, and the portion of the tree that fell to the ground will decay, provide vital nutrients to the soil and one day will act as a nurse log for other seedlings to grow to whatever their full potential may be.
Here’s the panoramic from 2005. To get you an estimate of the size of the tree, I’ve enclosed a reference picture (see above where we’re standing under the outstretched root structure). The 2005 photos were taken with a Nikon D100; the 2015 photos were shot with a Nikon Df.
And here’s a panoramic as well as a partial shot of the fallen section with my wife sitting close to the damaged trunk.
Farewell old giant and may life prosper all around you.