I went exploring today during the mid-day sunshine. My destination was a Douglas-fir--one estimated to be nearing 1000 years old. I had directions to the tree--a weaving, hand-drawn line that started in one corner of a Post-it note, crossed through the Zanaflex Capsules logo at the top of the Post-it, and ended up as a squiggly circle that was supposed to represent the tree. The map was drawn in my doctor's office, by my doctor. The map featured a few abbreviated steet names, some cryptic symbols, and one directional arrow. I forgot most of what she said while she was making this map. On previous visits she has directed me to local swimmable lakes, Olympia's best pizza, a fabulous department-store sized consignment shop, her favorite Italian restaurant. I trust her judgement.
So, with the Post-it note and my photogenic dog, I set out for the tree. I drove west of town on successively smaller roads until I saw a pull-out for parking. I got out of the car and, because the way I do anything is the way I do everything, I took the left fork in the road and followed it through dense and vibrant green woods. The sword ferns were shoulder height. The Swainson's thrushes were singing all around me. I passed a few houses, then the road became quite muddy with huge wallows I walked through the salal to avoid. I passed an abandoned trailer with a Boyscout logo on it, a skeleton of a house filled with rusted appliances, and then suddenly I was back on a paved road. This was obviously wrong. I turned around and figured I'd get a better map and try it again another day.
But then as I approached my car, I looked down the right fork in the road and saw a chain across it. A chain! That's what that symbol is on my Post-it! I remembered now that my doctor had mentioned a chain across the road and had told me to ignore it and the Keep Out signs. So off I went with my dog, up a grassy trail to a clearing where I encountered another fork. This time I went right and....off to my left in the distance was the broken top of the Douglas-fir towering above all the other trees. My doc had mentioned the snag and the bald eagle's nest. I turned around and headed down the other trail.
"Trail" is a bit of an overstatment. It was an overgrown footpath. It was so overgrown that I only saw the narrow dirt track when my dog's body moved the grasses, salal, and ferns off to the side as he ran just ahead of me.
In less than ten minutes, we arrived at the Douglas-fir. Wow. I knew from experience that words were going to fail me in this situation so I took out my camera and took the usual "first visit to the redwoods" photographs aiming up the trunk. I knew better. So I tried photographing my hand for scale against the trunk. Nope. Aha! The dog! Sit! Sit! Good dog. Stay! Stay! Staaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy!
I captured about half of the tree. Photographing the top half meant aiming right into the sun and bending over so far backwards that I would have had to be carried out on a stretcher.