The Tree of Life in Kalaloch

There is an extraordinary tree in Kalaloch beach, within Olympic National Park in Washington, that some people call “the tree of life” because of the miraculous way it seems to be hanging on to life when it should have been dead years ago. The tree is located just north of Kalaloch Lodge, near the Kalaloch Campground, on a cliff that has partially caved in due to erosion — right under the tree. The tree is anchored to the ground by only a few tendrils of roots, but the majority of them are exposed and spread out over a void. It’s a miracle that the tree is still breathing and thriving and sprouting fresh green leaves every spring despite having no soil underneath. No one knows why the tree has not toppled over during the intense storms that the coast is known for.

The tree is a Sitka spruce, but there is no official name. So people have been calling it by various names such as “the tree of life” and “the runaway tree”. Underneath the tree, is a cave like hollow that some people call “the tree root cave”. I couldn’t find how old the tree is or for how long it is hanging there for dear life.

The cave under the tree was caused by a small stream that empties into the ocean and has been washing the soil out from underneath it. I gather that this happened many decades ago, as can be inferred from this passage I read at, written in 2005:

As we approached the tree, a couple that was walking towards the bluff commented that they had been coming to this campground for 17 years and each year they had been expecting the tree to fall, but it hadn’t happened yet.