I went for a hike in the unprotected forest near Cathedral Grove yesterday. @TranBC seems to be focusing on expanding parking and pedestrian space in the existing small park. Wouldn’t it be smarter to expand the park itself? Here’s a big thread of pictures. Enjoy :) 1/n
We walked an old logging road. A few steps in, and you get to the TeleGlobe right of way carrying Fibre Optic lines to the West Coast. This is looking toward the Grove. We can use existing disturbed areas/roads like these to expand access and protect more. 2/n
On both sides of the logging road (and telegloble right of way, and #bchwy4) is pristine old growth. We walked in, there are deer here, Elk, Black Bear, and probably cougars amongst all the other species. The smaller trees are hemlock, larger are Douglas Fir 300-700yrs old. 3/n
Video of the same spot. Close to #bchwy4. Deeper forest to the right, the edge of the teleglobe right of way on the left. The group of old growth Doug Firs are probably worth more than all of the hemlock within sight. The forest companies like to say this is a “hemlock forest”.
There are 8 old growth Doug Fir in this shot. You can’t get scale in these pictures, but when you are in the forest, they dominate. This is some of the rarest habitat in British Columbia, if not the world. It’s beside one of Canada’s most famous parks. They are not protected. 5/n
I love how absolutely massive trees can “hide” in a forest. This tree amongst a few young hemlocks is probably more than 500 years old. Peekaboo!
6/n
As we moved up the slope we went through a circle of ancient Douglas Fir. How long have they all been standing over this spot? I would like to protect that spot.

P.S. This isn’t a ‘hemlock forest’. 7/n
A quick aside…. in January, I noticed a tree adjacent to #bchwy4 had been cut, it may have been a snag. I believe it is inside #cathedralgrove boundaries, though close. I took a picture of the trunk so I could see how old it was. I counted over 300 rings before I gave up. 8/n
Back into the forest ystrdy, we came upon a culturally modified tree. This ancient tree and its relatives has sustained First Nations for generations. Ministers @DonaldsonDoug @scottfraserndp and @GeorgeHeyman would have an interest to protect it as I think we all would. 9/n
We came into a clearing. It was a landing at the end of the logging road where they would yard the trees. Millions of $ in ancient wood within spitting distance… Or tourists could see them, respectfully, away from #bchwy4. (Same trees both shots as camera adjusts :)) 10/n
We started up another spur heading away (probably less than 1000m) from #bchwy4 toward the valley edge, @ICF_IslandRail railway, and Mt. Horne. As we walked, we passed another giant. It was probably the biggest one all day but you could see more behind it, toward the Park. 11/n
A panorama of the clearing… perhaps if people could park and start their Cathedral Grove journey here, in the middle of the forest, rather than dodging traffic on the side and the middle of a highway, it could be more enjoyable and sustainable for all? 12/n
We again stepped into the forest. We were intent now to climb the hill up to the @ICF_IslandRail railway that passes above connecting #Parksville and #PortAlberni section of the historic E&N Railway between #courtenay #nanaimo and #Victoria #yyj. Found a centipede. :) 13/n
I wanted to see how close the railway was, distance/elevation, to the landing. It is a fair hike! Need a lot of stairs, elevator? Funicular? :) But there is history hiding in the forest too. This is a @CanadianPacific hat, fallen from above and half buried amongst giants. 14/n
The railway! Dense forest on either side but the tracks were quite clear. Volunteers have done yoeman’s work keeping this passable since deactivation a decade ago. Its tourism potential, untapped. Lighter pic looks North/East/ #parksville. Darker South/West/ #PortAlberni 15/n
We came out at mile 19. That’s from the start of the “Alberni Subdivision” in #parksville. It is a couple more to the Alberni Summit before it heads down to #PortAlberni at (I believe) mile 28. Notice telegraph pole to left. Ample room here for a trail beside the tracks. 16/n
After a break (this all only took about an hour so far) we headed back down the slope. Passing more old rail debris as we scrambled down the rock slope holding up the rail bed. The top of the previous telegraph pole perhaps? A broken empty oil drum amongst the Firs. 17/n
It’s worth noting this steep section was almost all Douglas Fir, below/above the tracks. Logging activity is coming over Mt. Horne and down into the valley now (about 500m North), threatening this forest and railway. Note the trees scorched by fire. A common sight all day. 18/n
As we got back to the clearing we noticed a snake sunning itself. One of the biggest I have seen around here for awhile. Wonder if she was pregnant? 19/n
It only took 10min to walk back. Saw a purple trillium. I truly hope the powers that be @TranBC @mosaicforests can see to it that we spend less time trying to cram more people into existing parkland and instead #ExpandCathedralGrove. There is so much to see and treasure. /End
P.S. note that while I said “deactivated” about the railway. That doesn’t mean “disused”. Freight service stopped in 2002ish. Alberni Pacific Railway has been operating since to @McleanMill National Historic Site with future always hoping to stretch to the Grove and Parksville.
P.P.S. @RoninSwanson asked for aerial. Yep. Park is tiny. I have included a map that shows whole area. Red is protected park. Green between river/highway/railway is where old growth is (esp left/west of road). Arrow is where I was. Clearcuts surround all.
http://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/macmillan/macmillan_map.pdf?v=1589689950502
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