Hiding in Plain Sight

Once again, we fall for Oregon’s bait and switch tactic of keeping its gems hidden in plain sight.

This time, we’re a little further down the coast at Cape Meares State Park, whose lighthouse draws large crowds to the beautifully preserved, yet slightly underwhelming attraction. Sure, the view of the ocean is nice, but we’re in Oregon – the view is nice everywhere.

After an obligatory visit to the lighthouse, we follow the herd to the park’s other big attraction – the enticingly named “Octopus Tree.” It’s a cool tree (actually, it’s eight trees sharing the same root system) and definitely worth a visit. But, the real treasures are tucked away near the park’s entrance. Off to the side of a small parking area is a spur trail that leads to the “Big Spruce.” Not ones to be fooled by dull descriptor language, we follow the trail .8 miles to check it out.

Oregon has a lot of big spruces, so I’m not expecting to see anything terribly unique. I keep pointing out fat trunks along the way, thinking they are the “the one.” Suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, appears the fattest tree trunk I’ve ever seen outside of coastal redwoods. It’s uniform in thickness all the way up to its humongous top where gnarled branches the size of mature trees spread wide overhead. The sun forms a halo of light around its silhouette.

Clocking in at 144 feet tall, 48 feet in circumference, 15.5 feet in diameter and estimated to be 750-800 years old, this tree is such a bad ass, it actually grew balls. (Technically burls, but very strategically placed ones.)

It’s amazing. It truly is the biggest spruce I’ve ever seen. And it’s completely void of other people. Unlike the fenced-off Octopus Tree, Big Spuce is completely unmarked and unobstructed. You can get right up and touch (hug) it, which I do, several times.

The most magical thing about Oregon is you can just happen upon the kinds of things that most places would rope off, exploit or prop up on a pedestal just out of reach of the people. Here, great things are readily available for those willing to dig around a little to find them.

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