This cabin was our base of operations. From there we travelled up and down Long Beach, Pacific Rim Park. We revisited a few of our favorite places, Shore Pine Bog and Florencia Beach, formerly Wreck Beach and Wickinninish Beach. But we did find a new place, one that Beth recommended – Meares Island, once in danger of being logged, now a protected site and home to some of the oldest trees on the West Coast.
We did a great deal of walking over the two days that we were on the West Coast. I took a few too many pictures of everything. The highlight was definitely the walk on Meares Island – the Big Tree Walk.
The walk starts with a water taxi trip from Tofino. You book the taxi ahead of time and once at Meares Island you set a time with the company to come back and retrieve you! The walk is not too long about 20 to 30 min in and the same back. Give yourself extra time to gawk, take pictures, hug trees and other wise immerse yourself in the experience.
This walk is any easy walk – it is well marked – you just stay on the boardwalk! The boardwalk is made from hand-hewn Cedar – split from fallen trees and left rough to keep it from being as slippery as it could have been in the wet, humid atmosphere that is the forest floor of the West Coast Rain Forest!
Every effort has been made to make this walk safe; extra treads on the boards in sloping area’s of the path, stairs with beautiful, rustic wooden railings; or rope guides to keep you from slipping. Parts of the boardwalk are old with missing boards or holes in boards. You can see where repairs have been made or are in the process of being made. Like the forest itself this path is evolving – falling back to the ground and being built up from the ground.
Off to the sides of the path were work area’s where the new boards for the walk were being made. Downed trees were being sliced into boards and then split by hand for the new walkways. These logs were two to three feet in diameter – huge old trees. Cedar is full of natural preservatives that help it stay together even after it hits the ground. They can last over 100 years before they start to break down and back to the earth. The First Nations in this area of the world call the Cedar the Tree of Live itself.
There were a few trees in particular that we stopped and gasped and just stood in awe. These trees were amazing – the smallest trunk was about ten feet in diameter and the largest about twenty feet. Three trees stood out for me, and for most of us on the walk. These three trees were all Western Red Cedar.
The smallest tree was hollow on the inside. A large hollow – big enough for Tom to stand up in! This, we were told, is common in the Western Red Cedar – which makes it hard to tell it’s age as many of the rings are missing and a best guess method needs to be used. These trees are old though – you can feel the age. Some of the trees on the walk are named. Some of these names are first nation and some were English. This “small” tree had a first nations name.
The middle size tree was about fifteen feet in diameter. It’s age was put at about 1000 years. It was called the Tree of Life. The immensity of the trunk at the base – it was mind boggling – it reminded me of how small we are and of how ethereal our lives are in comparison with the immensity of time this tree had been standing.
The tree that caught my imagination though was the tree at the end of the walkway. It is calling the Hanging Garden. It’s trunk was about twenty feet in diameter, but shattered in a couple of places. But the tree still grew. And from it at various levels grew other plants, draping and cascading down it’s trunk – truly a garden of life encapsulated in this amazing trunk. The estimated age for this tree was about 1500 years. It’s life was shown in the trunk – how it had broken but still kept growing – AMAZING!
We walked around the tree and gazed at the growth. There was a rustic bench set to one side and an old boardwalk that went to a view point for the garden. This tree had been appreciated by many over the years! We were just a few more.
We walked quietly back to the shoreline and waited for our taxi. We were all amazed and awed by what we had seen.
As we headed back to Tofino. We passed by Islands where the trees leaned out over the water and created shelters and hollows. Another small island was home to an Eagles Nest and First Nations Ancestors. This area of the Island has been witness to a great deal of Man’s life.