Tag Archives: Old growth

The Towering Spires of Cathedral Grove

When talk turns to Vancouver Island’s natural wonders, especially where trees are concerned, it seldom takes long before the name Cathedral Grove is mentioned. This well loved roadside attraction, located near Cameron Lake on Highway 4, almost never suffers from a lack of attention. Whether you’re bound for the Alberni Valley, or the coastal charms of Tofino, discovering this enclave of ancient, towering trees never fails to inspire!

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The Wonders of Nahmint: Big Red and The Wall

It was late October in Vancouver Island’s Nahmint Valley, when cool mornings have a way of jolting your senses. No sooner were we parked, than the silence was broken by the barking of excited dogs, all looking forward to an exciting day! This was to be my second foray into the ancient forests here, where mysteries seem to reveal themselves with startling regularity. On this occasion, Greg had invited Evan and Sasha to join us, along with their dog Sage, delightful companions all. They both have a keen interest in conservation and old growth forests, and well represent the concerns of the current generation regarding environmental issues. Evan works as an arborist, and has a particular passion for climbing trees, while Sasha is an experienced and dedicated yoga instructor.

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A Tree Called “Burls”

If you’ve ever spent time with trees, especially those in the vintage category, then no doubt you have seen a burl before. Often presenting as grotesque and unusual masses, at first glance, some are so large and imposing that you might think they are endangering the health of the tree.

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The Wonders of Nahmint: Fallen Giants and Future Hopes

The mysteries of the Nahmint River Valley, with its legendary trees and abundant wildlife, had long ago captured my imagination. Nestled in the heart of Vancouver Island, near Port Alberni, the river supports the most diverse gene pool of salmon on the planet, as well as a thriving steelhead run.

Nahmint River

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The Canoe Creek Cedar

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!

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The Unlikely Heimdallr Fir

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.

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Walking the Wilds of Valhalla Grove

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!”

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An Audience With The Alberni Giant

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.

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The Harris Creek Spruce

Picture in your mind an ancient coastal temperate rainforest, undisturbed by man. Moss laden branches reach high into the canopy from the massive trunks that anchor them to terra firma. Home to considerable biodiversity and abundant wildlife, places like these are among the finest examples of nature at work. Everything is purposeful, from the smallest cone, to the chattering of the red squirrel, to the fallen giant decaying quietly amidst the ferns.

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The Return Of The War in the Woods: A Call to Action

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.

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