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!
“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!
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.
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!”
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.
When talk turns to the logging of ancient forests, unfortunately, time has proven that the more things change, the more they remain the same. 28 years ago, a heated battle to preserve Clayoquot Sound began on Vancouver Island. It was called, most appropriately, The War in the Woods. In 1993, concerned citizens joined forces to form a series of blockades to protest the clear cutting of old growth forests in Clayoquot Sound. This was to culminate in a movement that saw over 900 people arrested, and is acknowledged today as the largest act of civil disobedience in the history of British Columbia. In that fateful year, an estimated 11,000 individuals arrived to take part in those protests.
“I’m on the 6:25. Yay.” I laughed, reading that rather wry text from Doug in mid August 2020. Just a month before, we’d been crashing through the brush of North Vancouver’s Wickenden Creek hunting for ancient trees, and on that day I’d been awake far too early for my liking. Now it was time for an Island adventure, and it was Doug joining the ranks of the sleep deprived!
Qualicum Beach, to most, is a quiet seaside community on Vancouver Island’s east coast. Sitting in the shadow of Mt Arrowsmith beside Salish Sea, not far from Parksville, it’s best known as a summer resort and a great golf location. If you start to look around, however, there’s a lot more there than first meets the eye. Continue reading Exploring Qualicum Heritage Forest
If you live in Southwestern British Columbia, no doubt you’ll remember your first encounter with the arbutus. It makes a captivating first impression, and with its multiple trunks, peeling red bark, and rhododendron like leaves, this is a tree that compels you to look skyward at its twisting limbs! Continue reading The Rustic Charm of the Arbutus Tree
You know, when you’re open to possibilities, sometimes the day you envisioned turns out to be a whole lot different than you planned, and the story that follows here is a prime example of that. While it’s been the better part of a year just getting my act together enough to write about this day, I still thought it worthwhile to share, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! Continue reading A Walk in the The Giant’s Rock Garden