After exploring Cape Flattery, the Hoh Rain Forest and Rialto Beach, we traveled south a few miles to check out even more big trees and some more awesome beaches.
Having heard about the “Big Cedar” that stands tall in the forest, we decided to take a look. About 4 miles off Hwy 101, we traveled down increasingly narrower roads. First they were paved, then gravel, then scarcely more than one lane gravel roads. We came around a bend and found ourselves in a small parking lot and towering over us yet another enormous tree. It is called The Duncan Cedar, but I was unable to find any information about who Duncan was or why this tree is named for him.
Depending on which article you read it is either (as the sign claims) the world’s largest Red Cedar (Thuja Plicate), or the third largest. No matter, it is quite a sight. It stands 178 feet tall, and has a diameter of 19.4 feet.
According to Thomas Pakenham, author of Remarkable Trees of the World, in 1938 the Federal Government set aside land for a national park in four valleys on the Olympic Peninsula, saving from loggers the trees in four river valleys, the Bogachieml, Hoh, Queets and Quinault. However, the boundaries of the new park excluded much of the best old-growth forests.
This magnificent cedar grew in an area west of the park, and was in an area approved for logging. However, when loggers realized that this tree was the third largest red cedar in the world, they agreed to preserve this single tree, which was valued at $25,000. Unfortunately, one tree alone could not survive by itself. After the surrounding forests were cut, the fierce wind that sweep across the region without the protection of its neighbors. First the mosses and lichens that cover most of the trees in the forest died, then the tree itself began to die. Now it has only a few living branches.
Shortly afterward, we stopped to see another enormous cedar. The Kalaloch Cedar. This one is in the middle of a forest, and has not experienced the loss of mosses and bark. It has lost one large section, but is still alive and presumably growing.
We were then off to the Kalaloch beaches. We had planned to explore Ruby Beach, the most famous, but there were so many large logs that it made getting down to the beach difficult. Instead, we went a little farther down to beautiful Beach 4.
We made our way down to the beach on a trail through the lush, green forest.
Beach access was good and the water was clear and sparkling.
As we walked along, we met a couple with binoculars who were watching a couple of whales some distance offshore. As they pointed them out to us, one whale breached, coming half-way out of the water and falling back with a splash. Of course, by the time I hot the camera focused on the proper spot, all I could see was a spout. Look closely and you can see it just below the circling birds.
The tide was low, so we had access to the large rocks and the tide pools around them. Each of the large rocks had at least one stone balanced on it.
The dogs had another wonderful day, not only racing through the water but climbing on the rocks and wading in the calm water behind them.
I had my first look at tide pools. These contained beautiful bright green sea anemones as well as some with purple tentacles. Where the water had receded, they had folded themselves into little brown purse-like knobs.
But where they were still covered by the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific, they bloomed!
What a great day!