Although I have just began living in Interior BC, I find there is no shortage of adventures to be had as we explore forests, mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and rivers all around us. Each weekend we find ourselves surrounded by more beauty than my eyes can behold, and often I try and capture it through a camera lens.
One of the very first forests I visited here is called Chun T’oh Wudujut, and it is an ancient red cedar old growth forest. It was discovered just over 10 years ago by a young environmental graduate who was hiking through the area. He stumbled upon a fresh forest creek and tumbling waterfall, but most importantly, he discovered the massive cedar trees that had been growing in that area for thousands of years. He also noticed that many of these wonderful elders had markings and paint on them and soon realized that this area had been selected for tree harvesting. The company responsible was planning to harvest in secret, without permission, because they too realized the importance of protecting old growth forests, but greedily wanted the profit regardless. Being an environmental student, the young adventurer knew that protecting old growth forests is important in order to ensure that future germination of the surrounding area comes from the genes of the strong trees that survived for so long. He quickly took the story to the media, the area was saved from cutting, and quickly became a protected park.
Walking through the park, you can see the special care that took place in creating trails and paths to respect these ancient beings, and the wildlife that share their home. The area is largely wet and riparian with sensitive creeks running through that give life to a multitude of micro environments with brightly coloured with flowers, shrubs, mosses, and lichen that only grow under the protection of these great time warriors. In these sensitive spots, the trail is raised off the ground on a boardwalk , and signs are displayed asking not to disturb the area and its plant life. Once rare species of lichen that can be found here is called Gold Dust Lichen (Chrysothrix candelaris) and it only grows on ancient trees, making this area even more spectacular to see.
The trail twists, turns, goes up, and down, and even under the forest. As you walk up into the trail, you see a small creek running along side you in the opposite direction, and the landscape changes slightly. Huge boulders and rocks covered in thick lush moss emerge beside the trail, and it is clear that this area has been washed out for so long that only few statuesque boulders could withstand the weathering. At one point in time, the trail turns into a bridge leading up to a breathtaking waterfall. The nearby plants that thrive on the moisture in the air are thick and brightly coloured, making for a magnificent sight to behold.
The cedar trees are magnificent in size; our group of 5 people would not be able to hug the base of most of the trees in the park, and it truly is breathtaking to stand in their presence. Knowing that the species and trees surrounding you have lived for so long is a humbling experience and awe inspiring to say the least. One of the only ways to truly capture and understand the tremendous size and stature of the trees is to stand alongside them for comparison. As we walk along, you notice the mountainous view peak out from within the trees, at this time of year, still white capped and snowy.
Although the walk was relatively short, the experience was a great one, and I can’t wait to go back so that I can see the ferns and shrubs cover the ground with lush green vibrant colours.
Until next time, be safe and Happy Trails!