After our days on the coast, Tim and I pointed Frank south to explore the backcountry of Vancouver Island. With no paved roads on the west side of the island, we took to the rough gravel logging roads and drove to Carmanah Valley.
We found a perfect camp spot for the night just a few miles from the Park. We knew the reason we had such an amazing view to the ocean was due to the comprehensive logging of the area, but we appreciated it for what it was. It’s a bit of a shock to see the wide swaths of bare mountain side where the loggers have recently harvested, but we also saw thick forests of new trees that had been replanted decades ago. It’s a integral piece of the BC backcountry.
In the 80′s, the Carmanah Valley was slated to be logged as well. But thanks to a campaign led by environmentalist Randy Stoltman, this national treasure has been preserved. The misty, remote valley is home to groves of the world’s tallest Sitka spruce trees and Canada’s tallest tree, the Carmanah Giant. At an amazing 95 meters tall, it is nearly the length of a football field.
Compared to its neighbors in the forest, the Carmanah Giant is a relative youngin’ at 400 years of age. 1000 year old cedars and 800 year old spruce shade the amazing rainforest as well. The Park System writes that:
Visitors come to Carmanah to be entranced by the spell cast around big trees – trees so large that you have to expand your consciousness in order to assimilate the almost overwhelming impression made by such enormous biomass. Carmanah Walbran Park protects an extremely complex forest ecosystem, including the large Sitka Spruce ecosystem that comprises two per cent of BC’s remaining old-growth forest. The park’s spruce groves attain a biomass (weight of plants per hectare) of nearly twice that of a tropical forest. This dynamic system has developed over thousands of years and only functions properly if left totally undisturbed.
It’s every bit as impressive as it sounds. Tim and I spent hours under the towering trees – an unbelievable afternoon.