Flickr album link: The Duncan Cedar
As the weather warms up going into the summer season the deep rain forests of the northwest come to life. Two of the most intriguing rain forest environments to explore are the Mt Rainier and Olympic National Parks in Washington, while even more old growth forests await across the Canadian Border on Vancouver Island. Deep fog, misty rain and overcast skies can be expected daily during the change of seasons in these places and these are the perfect conditions for optimal vegetative growth. The moss underfoot is deep and spongey and the smell of rotting fallen firs and pines casts a refreshing, yet heavy tone. The rain forests are thick enough to hide a large animal a few feet away and every species is well aware when humans intrude. The sound of owls, woodpeckers and squirrels echo through the forest while the scant clearings offer an opportunity to look up at the tree tops towering overhead.
A few old growth gigantic trees still exist in these destinations and one of the most famous is the Duncan Cedar in Olympic National Park. The dirt side roads to the Duncan Cedar are fairly easy to navigate and a mapping system will come in handy because there are several other points of interest to discover along the trails. There is an ample size parking area with basic facilities at the Duncan Cedar Trailhead and this rain forest is so deep that the tallest tree in the park does not come into view till one starts down the path. When the Duncan Cedar comes into view it will truly be a jaw dropping event that will be remembered for a lifetime. The trunk of this tree is so massive, that it requires a few dozen people with locked arms just to give it a complete hug!
The Duncan Cedar is the largest Western Red Cedar in America and only the Cheewhat Giant on Vancouver Island is a taller example of this ancient species. The Duncan Cedar is about 90% dead hardwood, but a narrow strip of bark keeps the patches of green growth alive way up top. Standing next to the trunk and staring straight up at this towering giant certainly is an amazing experience and capturing a good photo actually can be more challenging than it may seem. I actually broke out an ultra wide angle 14-24mm zoom lens on a 1.5 crop sensor camera to frame the entire tree and any lens with a narrower field of view will likely only achieve a partial capture. Of course the most popular photo subject is somebody hugging the massive trunk of the tree, which can be captured with practically any camera lens. The Duncan Cedar definitely touches the sky in this deep mysterious rain forest, so be sure to check it out when doing an Olympic National Park tour!
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