If you’re like me, you don’t often get around to taking in the “touristy” sights in your own hometown, thinking you’ll get around to it when you’re less busy, when there are fewer actual tourists, or when the weather cooperates. Stupidly, that’s how I felt about things like the 1000 year old cedar tree that lived in Stanley Park. It had been there for 1000 years already, surely it would wait around a bit longer until I got my act together and finally went to take in this awesome sight. Sadly, sometimes it’s a mistake to wait.
This tree was reportedly the oldest of its kind in North America, (standing 131 feet tall, and 42 feet around at its base), and it even managed to withstand the wind storms of last winter that destroyed so much of Stanley Park. Unfortunately, the root system and interior of the tree had become so rotten in recent years that it was unable to support its hulking size any longer, and it crashed to the forest floor last month. We may have come too late, but it was still an impressive sight, even laying down. It was nice to see that we weren’t the only ones who were moved by its longevity – there was a steady stream of people who came to pay their respects to this fallen giant. The above photo is taken from the mound where its trunk stood for so long. You can see how huge it still is in relation to the people standing beside it – the two halves of the tree were pushed to either side of the trail to allow passage through. The majority of the tree extends off into the distance and out of sight.
We had fun imagining all of the historical events that this tree would have “seen” or lived through in its lifetime. It seems fitting that it will be left to decompose in this place and enrich the ecosystem that it oversaw for so many years.
Since we were doing the touristy thing anyway, we stopped and visited the famous hollow tree that we’ve driven by for years without ever stopping to take a look. Now we’ve got our very own copy of the requisite Stanley park photo.
It’s devastating to think that the park will never be the same within my lifetime or even within my kids’ lifetimes, but I’m glad that we spent enough time there in previous years to remember it as it was.