7/04/2009

The B&B Tree


In December 2004 Linda and I came to Sooke to experience life in the rainforest. We had been to Sooke several times over the years, always on our way to hike the West Coast Trail. We knew that there were big trees to be seen on Vancouver Island.

On previous visits to the coast we found it to be a special thing to stand next to an enormous tree a thousand or more years old. An entire forest of such unbelievable huge-ness forces an uncomfortable perspective on the mind. The eyes have problems taking in such immense verticality. Most of us experience such vertical splendor only in the business district of large cities, craning our necks looking up at towers. Imagine a tree, or an entire forest, towering above you at the height of a 30 story building. Trees with trunks larger than

The first month in Sooke we stayed at a bed and breakfast on Hutchison Cove with a fine view over Sooke Basin, East Sooke, and the snow peaked mountains of Washington. The tops of big trees could be seen growing down by the water where The Galloping Goose Trail runs.

One warm winter day I walked down to the Goose. At the bottom of the slope I came to the trail, and a fine example of an old Douglas fir. It is on the land side of the trail, and in its low location is protected from westerly gales by a hill. It has little competition from other big trees. Therefore, it has a beautiful crown and a classic overall shape.

It has not been as beaten by storms like many of the waters-edge trees. Many in this area have had their tops, or leaders, broken off, but not this beauty. It is intact and the whole tree is growing vigorously.

A new access road was built about a year ago that runs right past the base of this tree. While out for a bike ride, I talked to the present owner (the land, and tree, are for sale). She spoke of how her family has loved this tree over the years, and how they took special care to protect it during the construction of the road. Ah, fellow tree lovers.

If you ride or walk the Galloping Goose between the Coopers Cove access on Highway 14 and Roche Cove Park you will see many gnarly old trees, including this one. Some of them are in the range of 100 to 300 years old. Along this stretch of trail you will also see trees in that age range that have been sheared off or blown down, root disk upended and all. These fallen giants are a testament to the strength of the winds that lash this coastline every winter.

Could the B&B Tree live through another 800 years of winter storms? Who will be around to be awed by it if it does?

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