It was the strangest of apparitions on a cool, rainy morning in the Nahmint River Valley. A gnarled, towering, broken topped Douglas fir, rising abruptly into the mist, and beckoning us to make its acquaintance. We had to investigate! Though the tree was a relatively short distance away, precarious ground made for a painstakingly slow approach, and the nearer we got, the more peculiar it became!
It sounded like my kind of day! The thought of visiting some of British Columbia’s finest Western hemlocks was more than enough to get my attention, and despite the long drive, Greg had assured me that it would be time well spent. After all, what else would I be doing on a rainy day in the middle of February? The destination was Florencia Bay, within Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, not far from Ucluelet, on Vancouver Island’s west coast.
“Hey Mick, have you ever noticed the immense Douglas fir that’s right beside the A&W in Oyster Bay?” The question was Greg’s, as we had been discussing big trees on Vancouver Island that were easy to find. My answer, though in the affirmative, was also incomplete. What I didn’t mention was the sheer number of times I’d driven past the location without noticing the tree. Is it surprising that a so called big tree hunter like myself could miss something so conspicuous? Well, let’s just say I’m sure my wife of many years would have no trouble imagining that scenario!
If you ask British Columbians if they’ve visited the west coast of Vancouver Island, the answer’s usually a resounding “Yes!” The wonders of its ocean paradise are well documented, popular for tall trees, roaring surf and beautiful beaches. Unsurprisingly, most travellers are in such a rush to make it to Ucluelet or Tofino, that they seldom stop along the way. I’m about to give you ample reason to do just that!
The far reaches of the Alberni Valley hold innumerable surprises, but few seem more unlikely than the Heimdallr Fir. This massive coastal Douglas fir has not only survived many centuries, but it has managed to do so despite a wide array of challenges. I visited this well hidden giant in the summer of 2021 with my good friend Greg, who had assured me it was well worth seeing.
For decades, I’d been daydreaming about a trip to Cathedral Provincial Park , one of the more scenic locations in southwestern British Columbia. Located in a secluded corner of the Cascade Mountains, it’s long been a popular destination for hikers. In an unexpected twist of fate last year, it turned out my good friend Shane just happened to invite me along on a trip he’d planned. The idea was to spend a couple of days searching for alpine flowers and Mountain goats . Was I interested in joining him? It didn’t take me too long to say yes!
It was a warm summer’s day in mid July, as Greg and I trekked our way up a steeply rugged road in the remote reaches of the Alberni Valley. Earlier in the summer, we had been discussing the forests of Vancouver Island, when he had presented me with an idea. Was I interested in exploring one the most idyllic and impressive yellow cedar groves he had ever seen? The answer, naturally, was an emphatic “Yes!”
It was summer of 2009, and the goal was Tulameen Mountain, a significant 2285 metre summit in the Coquihalla region’s Bedded Range. Daylight broke as Chris and I drove the Coquihalla Highway, turning off at the Sowaqua Creek Forest Service Road. He’d heard of a new approach to the mountain using the southwest ridge, and I was naturally intrigued. Continue reading Scuffling for Tulameen
This year, I’ve been generously introduced to the wonders of the Nahmint River Valley, an irrepressible wilderness to which I have grown increasingly attached with each successive visit.