Old Growth

Another great week+ of being disconnected, deep in the backcountry, working on trails and soaking up the Wilderness. Perhaps more on that later.

One of the great draws to this area for me was the old growth forest grove through which the Pacific Crest Trail wends its way. Goddess and I made our way through this section after sunset, aware that we were walking among giants, but just not able to see and enjoy them.

Last year when I worked on the trail crew in this area, we were on the other side of the river more than a few miles and I just never had a chance to get to the grove.

This year was different. Goddess dropped me off at the trailhead a couple of days early, so I had time to hike in, camp, and soak it all in by myself, enjoying 48 hours of complete solitude among the giants.

The rest of the week, our commute to/from the work sites took us back through the grove. Needless to say, these are old friends now.

Before the official Wilderness designation for Glacier Peak in 1964, the lumber companies worked hard to establish a foothold in the region. The closest they got was building a road 23 miles long from the nearest highway. The end of the road is the trailhead. Another 9 miles of hiking through rain forest will get you to the grove.

The grove itself sneaks up on you. Surrounded by mile after mile of garden-variety pines, firs, and cedars typically 20-30″ in diameter, you turn a bend and the first 60″ tree surprises you. A few more turns and they keep getting bigger. A few more turns and you’re back among the garden-variety trees. The pictures just won’t do the scale justice.

This is about the best I could do on my own. That’s the PCT tread heading through cleared deadfall. For perspective, that downed tree is about 36″ is diameter. The old growth next to it is significantly larger.

Forest Service estimates are that the old ones are at least 800 years old. Sure, they are small in comparison to the Redwoods of California, but they are still quite impressive. 

And when they pass, they lay a fertile ground for the next generation. 

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