The Saga of the Red Creek Fir, Part 2 of 3

The months rolled by, the pages of the calendar turned, sometimes slowly, sometimes swiftly, as life goes. Now it was May of 2008. Chris and I had resolved to try again on a spring day to find the Red Creek Fir and so, there we were again, somewhat livelier, in line again at 5 am for the ferry to Nanaimo. Filled with laughter and optimism, how could we possibly fail?  [sarcasm/] Well, keep reading, for more insight into that rather unlikely scenario [/sarcasm].

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Memorable views
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Silence of the early morning

We spent much of our time that morning on the wind blasted deck of the ferry, identifying distant peaks and planning future treks. The rest of our time was taken up watching the trials and tribulations of a very confused fellow passenger. He had had great difficulty in listening to the traffic employees direct him where to park when boarding, and later he arrived late to his car, having forgotten exactly where it was. He became thusly known as “Dude, where’s my car?”, after the title of a recent movie neither of us had actually seen. I could certainly relate to his struggles, as I’ve had plenty of trouble finding my truck in mall parking lots over the years and I’m hopeless at finding my keys!

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Soon enough, we were on the road again, intent on taking Highway 18 to Lake Cowichan so that we could save time by driving the Harris Creek Main across the island to Port Renfrew. Here are some scenes from our trip along the road, including a stop to see the Harris Creek Spruce, 400 years old and over 12 feet in diameter.

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What up? Logging companies trying to save money on security?
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Sadly, much of the heart of Vancouver Island has been logged like this. Estimates are that a mere 5% of valley bottom ecosystems remain untouched.
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The Harris Creek Spruce, which was preserved in part with the help of logging companies, I have heard
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Harris Creek, for which Harris Main, the backroad we traveled, is named

In due time, we’d arrived at the point of reckoning, as we crossed the bridge over the San Juan River.

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San Juan River

A mere five minutes more, and we pulled into the entrance of Red Creek Main, with about 12 kms to go until we found the tree.

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Hey now, that doesn’t look so bad…
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….but, on the other hand, don’t say they didn’t warn you!

Not without some mildly harrowing moments negotiating a washout or two, Chris managed to skillfully pilot us to where the trailhead supposedly was. Somehow though, things seemed altered from the original description. There was a new spur that came in from the hill above on the right that appeared to be the new road in, and the old road had been extended for what looked like a km or two at least. We opted to walk the road, searching for any sign of a trail, but we could not find anything promising. We did not have either a GPS or a set of coordinates for the tree to go by, so then we drove up the hillside to see if the tree was visible from above, even engaging in some fruitless bushwhacking for a while. I’m not sure whether it was just collective mental exhaustion or just plain inability to think logically, but we just could not figure it out at the time. By this time Angry Chris had made his appearance and he was NOT happy with the Red Creek Fir gods! The score, after the inevitable capitulation that followed, was Red Creek Fir, 2, Chris and Mick, 0. Shut out again, and none too pleased!

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Angry Homer Simpson. Not my photo, may or may not have resembled Chris at the time. (copyright Simpsons all rights reserved)

Now what? Well, Plan B suggestion for the day was to explore the new spur, called Red 100, to see where that led us, and then possibly to see if we could head down Gordon River Main and locate the Braden Creek Canyon. You see, Chris has an obsession with canyoneering. For the uninitiated, that’s a sport where you don a wetsuit and pack dry bags and climbing gear in order to descend a creek or river whatever best way you can. I’ve now tried it once, and so I can understand how he got addicted, but that’s a tale for another day.

We caught all the breaks on the next part of our day, and in half an hour we had found the Braden Creek Spur, and we got out to scout the upper canyon. This was well worth the time, and almost assuaged  the considerable frustration that was renting a room in our heads by now. Here is a look at Braden Creek. I’m still not sure or don’t recall whether Chris has descended it yet or if he will any time soon, as he’s living in Utah as I write this.

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Braden Creek, where we dropped in
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There is something special about exploring creek valleys!
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Fast and angry water here!
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This canyon has beautiful rock, much of it granitic
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By far my favourite view of this canyon, what lies beyond that opening?

So, what was left? A long ride back to Departure Bay, to catch the ferry to Horseshoe Bay again. We began to relate to how the 1982, and especially the 1994 Vancouver Canucks must have felt when their dreams were dashed, but no, we were not going to quit! This was far, far, far, from over. Like Homer Simpson gunning for that last remaining doughnut, we vowed to return. God willing, for our own good and the good of our wives’  sanity. Who knows, maybe we’d even succeed next time?

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Cruising by Nanaimo airport again

Yet another lengthy day came to a close 18 hours after it began, and the sunset views on the boat ride home put it all into perspective, our problems being, on a world scale, really rather trivial at best…

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Mt Baker and sunset. Just for fun this time we caught the Duke Point sailing
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Watching the wake
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Thanks again, BC Ferries!

Until next time, same bat time, same bat channel…

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