Northern B.C.’s Ancient Forest

Ancient Western Red Cedars. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Ancient Western Red Cedars. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Sometimes the best travel finds are those easily overlooked. Take the Ancient Forest Trail, for example. The big sign on Highway16 between Prince George and McBride, BC stands stalwart. We’ve driven by many times, but with miles behind us and many more ahead, we felt a need to get out and stretch our legs.

Slow Start, Big Rewards
The parking lot, overgrown and looking little more than an old gravel pit, is not immediately inspiring. We scan the introductory signage and trail/boardwalk sponsor list and then catch our breath as we head uphill to find Big Tree. Flowering thimbleberry plants quickly give way to Devil’s Club. Scrubby alder disappears in the shadows of ancient cedar trees. Interpretive signs dot the trail, offering snippets of natural history. Bits of boardwalk turn into a steady chain of wooden planks as we climb up into the land of giants.

Over a thousand years old, these cedars are giants. (Photo Credit: M.Kopp)

Over a thousand years old, these cedars are giants. (Photo Credit: M.Kopp)

Naming the Giants
Big Tree measures 5 metres (16 feet) in diameter. It measures its age in millennia. This massive Western Red Cedar is estimated to be several thousand years old. Dubbed Treebeard by local hikers, one of the giants shares its moniker with a character from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels. Perhaps the most important tree is Radies Tree. It’s not the biggest or the most unusual; it’s just an old giant named in honour of one Dave Radies.

In 2005, the graduate student was studying old growth forests. Radies discovered markings on a few of the cedars and learned that the area was to be logged. He spread the word. One year later, the Ancient Forest Trail was built. In 2008, logging plans were cancelled. Thanks D.R.

Near the base of this giant are red survey markings; a tangible reminder of how close we were to losing this special forest. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Near the base of this giant are red survey markings; a tangible reminder of how close we were to losing this special forest. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Let’s take our hearts for a walk in the woods
and listen to the magic whispers of old trees.
~Author Unknown

 

 

Rafting the Kootenay

There is nothing like a long weekend in the mountains to rejuvenate body and soul and put that smile back on your face. Spent four days in Kootenay National Park soaking up some seriously fine weather and waves!

Vermillion Crossing to Simpson River on the Kootenay (Photo: B. Kopp)

Vermillion Crossing to Simpson River on the Kootenay (Photo: B. Kopp)

The hound was happy, too!

She even rocked her own doggie life jacket! (Photo: B. Kopp)

Taylor’s rocking her doggie life jacket! (Photo: B. Kopp)

After two days of rafting adventures, took a day off to gain a different perspective. The scale of the mountains never fails to amaze when you see how easily they turn a raft with four large guys into a dot near the bottom centre of a picture. Love the Rocky Mountains and the rivers that run through them!

Kootenay River, B.C. (Photo: M. Kopp)

Kootenay River, B.C. (Photo: M. Kopp)

One wishes to go on. On this great river one could glide forever — and here we discover the definition of bliss, salvation, Heaven, all the old Mediterranean dreams: a journey from wonder to wonder, drifting through eternity into ever-deeper, always changing grandeur, through beauty continually surpassing itself: the ultimate Homeric voyage.

– Edward Abbey

Long Weekend Skiing at Dave Henry Lodge

My friend pulled down a book from the narrow, wooden shelf high above the front window. It was “The Book of Awesome” by Neil Pasricha. The gist of the book is enjoying the little things in life – like waking up in the morning and realizing it’s a Saturday.

Dave Henry Lodge, Valemount B.C. (Photo credit: M. Kopp)

Dave Henry Lodge, Valemount B.C. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Or like standing on the main floor of Dave Henry Lodge, high in the mountains above Valemount, B.C. with two long-time friends and a half dozen or so new acquaintances, brooms and snow shovels and flattened cardboard boxes in hand, trying to coax a pine marten out from behind the indoor woodpile. And trying not to squeal like a little girl as the marten flies past the blockade of plastic ski boots, brooms, shovels, and cardboard and hides under the red and black benches surrounding the long table.

Live trapped and awaiting relocation. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Live trapped and awaiting relocation. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Awesome is walking down the narrow staircase from the sleeping bunks at 6:30 a.m. smelling fresh coffee wafting from the kitchen and seeing thick snow falling outside.

It’s having your guy give up a day of ripping up the slopes with the strong skiing group to find the perfect hero snowpatch for you to yo-yo up and down all day – and then complimenting you on your awesome descent through the thickly treed slope back to the cabin. Plus, it’s catching duplicate ear-to-ear grins on the faces of the lakeside snowshoers and steep and deep skiers at the end of the day.

My guy... (Photo credit: M. Kopp)

My guy… (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

...and I! (Photo Credit: B. Kopp)

…and I! (Photo Credit: B. Kopp)

Could it be just sitting in the low-roofed sauna with a cold beer, a bucket of snow and the irrepressible impulse to throw a snowball at your sauna mates?

Awesome is happy hour beginning with red grape salsa on goat cheese crostini and a guys versus gals game of Sequence, chasing it down with baked steelhead and round of travel and adventure tales and topping it all off with raspberry Linzer torte, Irish-cream laden coffee and a dollop of whip cream.

It’s having one of your new friends point out the silhouette of a hawk-owl perched high on a conifer tree in the middle of the day.

Maybe it’s skimming the tops of two snow-capped passes and banking hard right as the helicopter soars back towards spring.

Passes between Dave Henry and Swift Creek. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Passes between Dave Henry and Swift Creek. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

How was the weekend?  A whole lot of awesome.

  “Because, life’s too short, my friends. Let’s squeeze in as many laughs as we can get.
– Neil Pasricha

A little snowboot downward dog! "“Because, life’s too short, my friends. Let’s squeeze in as many laughs as we can get.”  - Neil Pasricha

A little pre-ski downward dog. Can someone help him back up? (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Parks Canada: A Rosy Welcome

Parks Canada initiated a fun program last year called The Red Chairs Experience. The idea was to place red chairs in special places within Canada. Visitors are then encouraged to discover their locations and share their experiences with others via social media outlets. It’s a cheerful way to help spread the wonder of our landscape.

Imagine my happiness when I stumbled across said chairs in Kootenay National Park. The pop of colour mid-winter is a boon. My guy and I were taking the short, but scenic stroll up Marble Canyon’s interpretive trail to the 40 m/130 ft deep gorge of Tokumm Creek to check out ice formations when we spotted this rosy pair.

A duo of red Adirondack-style chairs at Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

A duo of red Adirondack-style chairs at Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Although I was aware of the program before our discovery, this is the first pair of chairs that I’ve come across. Quick research suggested that 11 of these rosy duos can be found in different locations in Banff, 2 along the Icefields Parkway, 2 in Yoho National Park, 2 in Kootenay National Park, and 6 in Jasper National Park (as well as other parks across Canada).

If You Go: Marble Canyon can be accessed off Hwy 93 (17 km/10.5mi south of the Trans-Canada Hwy). The trail which criss-crosses the canyon is a short 0.8 km/0.5 mi one-way. Note: Stairs can be icy in winter; boot grips recommended.

Where have you discovered the red chairs?