Hiking up in the hills behind Multnomah falls, the forest was mixed cedar, Western hemlock and Douglas fir with big leaf maples, red alder. The understory had snowberry, devil’s club, spirea, mock orange, salal and mahonia.
The Western redcedar was considered the ‘Tree of Life’ by Native American groups along the Pacific coast. It provided rot-resistant wood for canoes, paddles, houses, storage boxes, fuel and tools. The bark was used for clothing and the roots for basket making. According to “Plants of the Pacific Northwest,” the cedars were not usually cut down to get these materials. Felled trees, broken off braches or pieces or lumber pried out with wedges were used instead. Because the tree gives so many things, there is a myth that the first cedar tree grew out of the grave of a person who had always helped others, the great spirit planted it there in their honor, and the cycle of giving continued. The tree is considered to be very powerful, giving strength to those to stand against its trunk.
Happy New Year.