In Search of the Eagles Nest Grove

It was May of 2004, and I found myself biking up the Eastside Road in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, a favourite destination of mine. At one time, not so long ago, this valley was home to magnificent stands of old growth forest. Now, though much has been lost, the area’s timber is  protected for future generations to enjoy. That day, I was in search of the Eagles Nest Grove.

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Mayers Creek plunging down its canyon from the Needles above

A cool spring morning warmed gradually, with morning mist occasionally drifting in. There was much to lose myself in as I climbed the steep incline near the 8 km mark. The grove, according to an old Western Canada Wilderness Committee map, was roughly three more kilometres away. First located by noted tree hunter Ralf Kelman in the 1990s, the Eagles Nest Grove was named for the sizeable nest atop one of the largest Douglas firs.

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One of the many creeks that cross Eastside Road

On my way to the grove, I decided to pay a visit to Rolf Lake, now called Lost Lake. The lake is nestled at the bottom of the Rolf Creek Valley, which has its headwaters high above in the snowfields of the Seymour-Runner Col. If you’re lucky, you’ll see Pacific Newts basking on the shore there, and sometimes a deer or a black bear.

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The shores of Lost Lake are littered with old logging detritus which as it turns out is quite helpful to the local newt population
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Water Lily between logs, shore of Lost (aka Rolf) Lake
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You never know where you’ll find an outhouse

After a brief sojourn rambling about the lakeshore, I stopped for lunch and then continued up the Seymour Valley. Once I reached the 11 km mark, the familiar screech  of young eagles broke the early morning silence. I stashed my bike quickly among the trees, and made off in search of the sounds. In no time at all, I’d found the grove without the use of the map I’d brought, instead, nature had guided me there. The grove was relatively small, but I was glad it had survived the saws of nearby logging. Many of the trees were between 300 and 700 years old, and the understory was alive with tremendous biodiversity. Nearby, Douglas Squirrels chattered their warnings and  a Downy Woodpecker busied herself foraging for insects. It’s a treasured place that sees few if any visits, and it’s the kind of refuge that is at the very root of my love for nature. “Well worth the 38 km bike ride,” I thought. In that moment, it donned on me that it was my birthday. I could not have imagined a better present for the occasion. Here then, is more of what I saw…

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Eagles Nest Grove’s quiet beauty
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Bearberry growing on the forest floor
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Enjoying the presence of this fallen giant cedar, now a nurse log
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There is nothing quite like looking into the canopy of an ancient forest giant
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Impossible to see, but easy to hear its inhabitants, the eagle’s nest is definitely up there…
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There is something magical about the texture and appearance of Douglas Fir bark. This tree was over 400 years old.
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Ferns and other greenery
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One of those golden moments BC forests give you sometimes

A world of thanks here to the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, Chris Player, Will Koop, Paul George, and especially Ralf Kelman, for their work on the map that helped me to rediscover this time forgotten place.

UPDATE: I paid another visit to this Seymour Valley grove in the spring of 2018, about 14 years later. It remains largely intact, with some changes, and I made some new finds too. Look for that in an upcoming story!

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