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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Cathedral Tree Trail: What's Left of an Urban Forest

Astoria's Urban Forest and the Cathedral Tree Trail The destruction of much of Astoria's "unique urban forest" was not caused by humans, but by wind. On the night of December 2, 2007, hurricane-force winds changed our landscape. Here? In Astoria? I remember that some of the downtown business owners didn't believe it would happen despite the forecast, and didn't think it was was worth taping up their plate glass. Over the next few days they ended up replacing it while city workers put the street lights back together. Here in the forest and around some of the houses on the hill, trees blew down.

Late in January of this year, Francisca and I took a walk up to the Column through the city streets and came back down by way of the Cathedral Tree Trail. A walk in the forest was something to look forward to anyway, but I also wanted to show her our Cathedral Tree and to see it again myself. However, somehow we missed the landmark. On February 7, the sun came out, and took my camera to get photos of the tree. From the bottom of the trail, the trail head is at Irving and 28th Streets. It's only a short way in to the vicinity of the locally-famous tree (see the photo above for the general locaiton of the tree; you'll see the tree itself below). Stairs have been built in the forest to facilitate walking in the steep, slippery mud. Here you can see the walkway being repaired after the storm.

Astoria's Urban Forest and the Cathedral Tree Trail I hadn't been able to understand how I'd missed the tree on our walk, but here's the reason. Although it's only a few yards off of the main trail, it now looks insignificant in its new, battered setting. I'd been remembering something majestic and eye-catching. Yes, that's the Cathedral Tree in the center of the photo. At one time, you couldn't see it until you were right there.

Astoria's Urban Forest and the Cathedral Tree Trail Here's the tree. I'd remembered correctly that there was a bench placed near it so one could sit back and enjoy the tree in its deeply-wooded and picturesque environment.

Astoria's Urban Forest and the Cathedral Tree Trail This is why it was called "Cathedral" Tree. It was not huge, but a child could stand up in the unusual hollowed-out cavern in the base. An average adult could stand inside, but stooping. Nobody was visiting when I was there on Sunday afternoon, but I'd seen a runner and a cyclist on the trail.

Astoria's Urban Forest and the Cathedral Tree Trail Here's the old tree from the back. I could have sworn it was about three times this size.

Astoria's Urban Forest and the Cathedral Tree Trail Even the mighty top of the old Sitka spruce has lost some volume.

Astoria's Urban Forest and the Cathedral Tree Trail Here's more of the new neighborhood.

Astoria's Urban Forest and the Cathedral Tree Trail We're just lucky the Cathedral Tree didn't end up like so many others nearby.

Astoria's Urban Forest and the Cathedral Tree Trail I was gladdened to find these lovely flowers in the forest right by the big tree. Not only were they comforting amidst the destruction, but it was a day of noticing spring flowers and new growth.

Astoria's Urban Forest and the Cathedral Tree Trail After making my inspection and paying homage, I took the board path back toward the trail head. On my way in, I'd come by way of the muddy trail.

Astoria's Urban Forest and the Cathedral Tree Trail A glance backward. Goodbye, Tree. Until next time.

This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.

6 comments:

cieldequimper said...

Let's hope it survives many more storms, it's a wonderful cathedral.

Don and Krise said...

I feel for you. It's sad when a historic place like this goes through such a change, even at the hands of nature. I'm glad the Cathedral Tree itself weathered the storm and is still standing though. Great post and great set of photos Sheryl.

Jacob said...

What a nice series, Sheryl! The Cathedral Tree looks like one of our ficus trees...

Hurricane force winds tend to rearrange Mother Nature!

But sometimes Mother Nature gets back to work and it eventually looks, if not better than before, new and vibrant!

Francisca said...

I'm glad you did this post, Sheryl. I feel as if I did this walk with you again.

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Beautiful and lovely shots !! This is so fantastic !!

VP said...

At least this wonderful tree and I have to say that his name is deserved. It is majestic and I hope it will be for a long time.
And I know that bench...

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