The Giants

After all the posts about my trip around Europe and home to the Charlottes via Hawaii, I’m ready to come back to the present. However, it’s ironic that I begin to take up my “pen” again with a post that is a result of a visit from the friend in France who showed us Fougères and Mont Saint Michel. I hadn’t seen my friend since those days 36 years ago although we wrote to each other through all those years.

This year she decided that it was time for a face-to-face meeting, and I entertained her and her travel companion by showing them some of the sights on Vancouver Island; places I hadn’t bothered to visit since I was 16 years old.

Some of the oldest trees on the island stand at Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park between Parksville and Port Alberni, just at the west end of Cameron Lake. The paths are well groomed and trodden down by hundreds of thousands of feet each year.

As I walked these paths, feeling very tiny under the giant trees, I heard a mix of languages such as you might hear at an international airport. People had come from everywhere in the world to see these enormous, old firs and cedars.

024At one of the trees, tourists line up to take turns stepping inside – because they can.

032033The largest tree in Cathedral Grove is a Douglas fir.  It is 76 meters high, has a 9-foot (nearly 3 meters) diameter, and a 9-meter circumference.

043This giant is taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is 20 meters shorter.

040

041Not only is it the largest tree in this grove, but it is also the oldest. Can you imagine what this tree has seen in its 800 years of existence? It would have been just a toddler in the days of Robin Hood, King John, and the signing of the Magna Carta. Columbus hadn’t even “sailed the ocean blue” yet. The toddler was well over 200 years old when that event took place. The mind boggles!

29 thoughts on “The Giants

  1. The mind boggles indeed, Anneli. Trees have ALWAYS fascinated me – & I have even been fascinated how people even determine the years. I know they say the rings (and the day that was realised must have been exciting!) but I still find it extraordinary & fascinating that they can even live 800 years.

    Beautiful post, Anneli.

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    • I’ve wondered about that myself, but apparently they can take a core sample by drilling into the tree and pulling out a plug (as it were) and counting the rings. They only have to do that once, and then they have a baseline. Fascinating stuff, isn’t it.

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  2. Fantastic place. This is a place where I could think to visit. I have visited twice in the Muir Woods National Monument near to San Francisco and I love it very much.

    Thank You for this interesting post.

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  3. I believe I’ve stood inside that very tree! But what is truly amazing is that you and your friend kept up correspondence for 36 years. I’m fascinated by the juxtaposition of your history, written on paper, and the story grown into the tree.

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      • If everyone had dropped a penny while they stood inside, nobody could stand inside!
        When I thought about that comment afterwards, I realized it wasn’t very clear. What I meant was that the tree and the letters were both such rarities, growing undisturbed for so long in respect to other trees or other friendships. Growing in rings or layers. How interesting that you decided to take your friend to that forest… It would make a good short story!

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