Cook Forest State Park

Searching for the Ancients

November 16, 2011, 1:13 pm

When John Cook settled near the Clarion River in 1828 and began his logging career, he left many of the area's towering white pines and hemlocks alone. So did his son and his grandson, and when I needed a peaceful getaway, I went looking for this rare, 350-year-old forest monument.

We're standing among Cook Forest State Park's ancient trees, walking down the hillside toward the Clarion River. All around us climb ancient hemlock and pine. We pause at a hemlock with a four-foot-thick trunk soaring form a base of splayed roots, a mini-cathedral among the lichens and ferns, spark my curiosity about all that must have lived here - biological and mystical.

To be among the ancients, aware of their centuries-long lifespan, was unbelievably peaceful. I swooned for these majestic giants, and wanted to know their story.

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