I had an errand to run in Port Alberni yesterday, and on the way back I stopped at Cathedral Grove to see The Big Tree. I’d missed it the last time I was there with Jamjarjude — it was in another part of the grove and we didn’t have time to trek there. But this time, I was on a mission.
But, of course, once you walk into Cathedral Grove, with its centuries-old redwoods, your pace is slowed and your mouth drops open. Because all you can do is look up.
The grove goes on for miles, but only a small portion of it is accessible. The paths are covered with moss, which drapes from branches like swags of green velvet.
The grove is so quiet… you tend to find yourself whispering. It is a place of awe.
Then the quiet is broken by the murmurings of a brook, and, for a moment, I bring my eyes back to earth, to reconnect.
I pass a lightning tree – a giant which has been immolated by a blast of lightning from a sky god…
…just the one tree, in the middle of the forest, all its neighbours untouched.
Then, it is there. The Big Tree. A Douglas fir eight hundred years old. Already 300 years old when Columbus set foot on the New World. Born at the end of the 12th century, when Richard The Lion-Heart was on the throne of England, and Genghis Khan’s armies overran Asia. Still alive. A connection to all that has lived since it’s birth.
Seventy-six metres tall, nine metres round, taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. And still growing. It has another two hundred years to go before it starts its decline.
And I touched it of course.