I’ve been doing a thing at church where we have regular observances for the new and full moon. The theme for new moons is to introduce a different tree from the area and talk about traditional and mythological associations. Then we do a guided meditation where we talk to the tree of the month and take time sharing the existence of trees

Everybody loves trees! Especially in a pagan group, buncha damn tree huggers. Anyway, one of the women from my group buttonholed me at church, handing me a photocopy of an article. “It’s an old-growth forest, just north of here,” she said. “I haven’t been there,” she pointed to the north, “but it’s on your end of town.”

I take a look at the article later that day and read it with disbelief. It described a journey to a place without a Googlemap pin or searchable name – veritably hidden from the cloud! Up this highway past the old trading post, then a left at the gun range. About four miles up a twisty one-lane road past nothing and no one and about a million trees.

The prophecy spoke of a mile marker, a road sign, and a yellow gate, beyond which was a road that lead to the trailhead, marked with a big sign. I check the date on the article and it’s a couple of years old. I think to myself that there’s no chance any of that’s still accessible.

This morning, my wife Rainy and I were noting that the weather forecast showed another beautiful day today before sliding into winter for another few days. She decided we should go look for that old forest from the article. I had done a little bit of Google-Earth snooping and hadn’t actually been able to verify the directions in the article. This didn’t mean that I wasn’t excited to take a road trip and possibly see some very big, very old trees.

So I took the afternoon off (because my boss is cool like that), and my wife & I took off up the highway into town. I set the navigation system to head for the trading post, which is near some folks I know from the church. Past the trading post, we continued into the neighborhood, then made a left on the road where the sign said, “Gun Range.”

We passed the gun range and a handful of mini ranches before smacking into forest. The road wound around the hillsides and up the edge of one hill into the range. It was so narrow, and the shoulders were so rare that the entire time, I was hyper vigilant about any oncoming traffic.

At one point, I got confused and started to go down the wrong road. Within a hundred feet, the thick brush growing into the road made it clear that this was not the way. I had to reverse until we got back to the fork and could recalibrate. The correct road lead us to the spot indicated in the directions. We knew we had found the place because there were already three other cars parked at the top of the route.

Seriously. Secret old growth forest trail and there’s already a crowd.

We see the signs and walk around the yellow gate and up the paved logging road to the trailhead. We turn one corner and an older couple appear and smile and greet us as they pass.

“Well that’s one car’s worth of people,” I said to Rainy a bit later, grateful that they were heading out and that we were still on the right trail. As we approached the trailhead, there was a group of four people talking. After a bit, a man with his dog walked away towards us.

As the man came near us, I said, “I didn’t expect to see so many people here!”

“Neither did I,” he said. “I’m usually the only one here,” he scoffed, then his dog continued pulling the man back down the hill towards the cars. The other group had already disappeared into the trees, so it was a few minutes before we spotted them again.

The trees at this part of the forest were less than fifty years old, and while they were tall and the forest floor was cluttered with branches and mosses, occasional stumps would remind us that once truly might trees had been here. After we reached the trailhead and started into the park, we began to see trees that were much wider & much taller than the ones along the logging road.

A short ways along the trail we encountered the third group, a trio of older ladies and a mop-head dog, all debating whether to take the “Tall trees loop” or the “Pond loop” while standing before a sign offering an arrow for each direction. This park in the middle of nowhere with no external signage had the best in-park signage I’ve ever seen. Giant, clear signs with big, unmistakable arrows.

What had not happened prior to our arrival was the spring brigade of boy scouts and rangers to clear out all the fallen trees from the wintertime storms. This made our efforts to trace a cowpath through a forest an extra level more challenging as we had to climb over, and sometimes under, trunks both narrow and mighty. In one place, a falling tree literally ripped the pathway out of the ground leaving a deep crater we had to circle. Rainy said looking at the root ball was like looking into the underworld.

Oh! And they had benches! Such lovely benches, located in convenient and picturesque spots all along the trail. I think we sat on all of them. Who doesn’t love a nice bench along a trail? It was a warm day, but under the canopy it was significantly cooler. Like this may be a good escape from the summer kind of cooler.

We get to one tree that has its own sign. The trunk is enormous, six feet in diameter, and 250 feet tall. The sign names the tree “The Giant” and claims the tree is 300 years old. I look up and can’t see the top of the tree – it’s above the canopy. I do get a photo of The Giant from behind it, further down the trail. Absolutely huge trees.

Several dozen trees, each reasonably as old as “The Giant”, grow along the hillsides near this creek, with green lichen on their trunks and beard moss dangling from their branches, they look like fashion models. The place is completely devoid of traffic noise and is mostly completely silent except for the sounds of rifle fire ringing through the hills. (Remember, gun range?)

We circle around the loop, head out to the trailhead, and down the logging road without seeing another soul. I don’t even see any traffic until we pass the gun range. It’s jarring to leave the sanctuary of the forest canopy, but the clouds for the winter storm were moving up from the south and hiding the sun.

We make it back to civilization in about a half hour, with time for me to check in to work and finish processing a feature change. I’m still feeling the energies of that forest like a steady glow — like I’m not actually very far away from the forest here in my home.

There’s a peak ridge next to my neighborhood. The path to it runs right past my street. The peak is covered in fir trees, and when I was on the path near the peak among the trees, I could hear faintly the song of the trees. The old trees I met today knew more of the song, sang it louder and deeper, weaving a tapestry of harmonies. Now I can sit at home, see the fir trees on the mountain, and hear their song.


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