Campbell River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia – Fallen giants

On the way back to the east coast we do nearly not find a parking space at MacMillan Provincial Parks. How must it be in high season? The Cathedral Cove called corner of the park is a small wild piece of rain forest with huge old Douglas fir, but as well impressive red cedar and hemlocks. The park management compiled some trails to discover the primeval forest. The trees are so high and the needle canopy is so dense that nearly no light reaches the bottom. Only ferns with modest demands on sunlight can grow. Lime-green mosses overgrow the trees’ stems and branches, and hang down like cobwebs on a forgotten attic. Douglas fir can become up to 42 m high in the landlocked country, the coastal variety even 85 m. The biggest still living giant in Cathedral Cove is more than 800 years old, measures 76 m in height and 9 m in circumference. Fungus, parasites, and illnesses can weaken the roots and strong wind can cause their untimely death. During the New Year storm in 1997 many of the primeval times’ giants fell. They lie in the park all over the place. Just the blocked paths were cut free, but the other stems were left as part of the natural changing process, because the living trees receive new fuel from the rotting ones. A short time ago one of the firs must be fallen and destroyed a bridge. Due to that some parts of the trails are not passable right now. Warning signs strongly advise to leave the park when there is wind. It is obvious why. Where the forest thins in this way, new opportunities arise for other species. Berries and other bushes that are in need of light cover the ground now. The suppressed hemlocks take their chance and will perhaps take over regime in a couple of hundreds of years.

After leaving the rain forest we reach Cameron Lake and the Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. Little Qualicum River flows through a canyon with rapids and some smaller falls. Two bridges and some kilometres of hiking trails were made to follow the river’s course. In the end of the day we rest at the house of Dave and his family in Campbell River. Until few years he had an older Unimog himself and asked us to pass by. Dave brews his own beer, and as a German I can say: pretty good!

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