|Drift wood on Sooke's Ella Beach|
The beaches of Vancouver Island are fantastic places to see big trees, both those growing on the shore, and the ones washed up on the sand and rocks. Exposed beaches on the outer west coast end up as drift log cemeteries, covered in huge tangled piles of sun-bleached carcasses of rainforest giants.
|Van Gogh's Starry Night in driftwood|
Throughout the wild and windy coastal winters rain-heavy winds lash the coastline. Huge swells and waves throw ocean borne forest debris up onto beaches everywhere in a swirly maelstrom.
Large drift logs and whole trees may stay a few days, weeks, months or years, depending on the size of the debris and weather conditions. If they stay long enough it will bleach and dry in periods of dry, hot summer weather.
|More Ella Beach driftwood showing a tangle of roots|
Swollen rivers in winter disgorge large amounts of forest debris that falls into the water from above, or is actively eroded out by the high, raging waters. Huge rainfalls see many of Vancouver Island's rivers transporting big tree debris to the ocean, destined for a beach and final resting place.
|Fallen branches on pocket beach, Sooke Basin|
Most beaches on the south island will have collected some drift wood. It certainly adds interest to a walk on the beach.
Back when Vancouver Island logging was in its heyday, rafts of huge logs were transported to saw mills on the mainland, up the Fraser River. Over the decades thousands of logs were lost to storms. These logs eventually found their way to local beaches.
This source of driftwood ended with the building of mills on the island, downturns in the economy, whole-log shipments, and the eventual depletion of the Dry Coastal Douglas-fir forest. However, many of the logs that got loose during the period of intense tree harvesting still lay on the hundreds of kilometers of beaches of Vancouver Island's coastline.
|The beach at Port Renfrew has collected piles of big tree debris|
Beaches open to the full brunt of the Pacific Ocean tend to gather more forest debris. The beach at Port Renfrew shows this nicely. During the winter it gathers massive drift logs for as far as the eye can see. Not only that - the beach is also often littered with much smaller wood debris, small chips of wood sanded smooth by the wave action.
|Whole tree, roots and all on the sand, Port Renfrew|
|This stump on Billings Spit has lay here for many years|
Beaches often yield great wood remnants. Often showing the results of chainsaws, naturals also end up here.
And the great thing is you never know what you will find. Each day can bring new treasures, as the beach is built anew every day by the wind and waves.