Yesterday we hiked to Lake Serene, mainly to enjoy the wonderful view of Mt. Index and the lake-- I wasn't expecting to see any old growth trees, but I had forgotten that the higher reaches of this very steep forested mountainside had not been logged. On the trail beside these trees in the photo, we paused to talk to two men and all of us marveled at the trees. I knew the tree on the right was a cedar, but I wasn't sure about the one on the left, and they informed us it was a Sitka spruce. I was really surprised, as I had only seen huge specimens like this on the Oregon coast when I travel there each summer. So when I got home I looked at Northwest Trees by Stephen Arno, and learned that they do grow inland in Alaska, British Columbia and in a few lowland valleys in Washington, but only on the coast in areas farther south than the Columbia River. These trees were growing at an elevation of about 2,000 ft. There were many other notable specimens on the trail.
To the right is a bigleaf maple at about 1,500 feet of elevation. Its top had been sheared off, so it was growing 2 huge branches out from each side--I love how it is perched so precariously on the steep slope.
Since traveling to Yosemite last fall and seeing the giant sequoias, I've had a new understanding and love of trees, wherever I find them. Many of my watercolors this year have been about trees and I'm currently working on a woodblock print of a group of mountain hemlocks laden with snow. The big trees move me especially--imagining the hundreds of years they have lived before any of us were born.
Elizabeth Colborne, a Bellingham artist of the first half of the 20th Century, whom I really admire, wrote:
To look up, far up the dizzy heights of firs with thin straight trunks and almost-even furrows of bark into the depths of heavy, darkly overhanging branches leads me into a sense of the vast immensity of this growth of centuries so very lightly trod by man.