Victoria – Cathedral Grove Image Dump

May 28th, 2008 by Potato

The Prius wasn’t available, but I did end up renting a car for my day off here in Victoria and took a trip up into the mountains of Vancouver Island along with two of my colleagues from work. We managed to save a bit of money on the rental just by asking nicely for a deal “What do you have available at the government rate?” I asked, and we got a mid-sized car with unlimited mileage for the cost of compact. Upgrades like that are pretty common at Budget, but I felt pretty good about my negotiating, and then we had a bit of conversation about negotiation. My supervisor is skilled in the art, sometimes taking weeks to wear down a salesman to nearly cost. I said that I can usually manage to get 10% off if I work at it, and that’s usually a workable margin for almost any business; he said that he once bought a rug for only 10% of the price (90% off).

We first headed up towards Nanaimo, but it was raining and we didn’t quite want to stop there. Instead, we powered on through to Coombs, and stopped at the old country market with the goats on the roof. Yes, it’s got a living grass roof and goats live up there. It was quite a neat market with a tonne of ice cream (that I somehow managed to pass on), as well as some tourist souvenir type stuff, and a number of unique items that my supervisor says the shopkeeper orders in when something catches his fancy, and usually in large lots. This time, there was a whole pile of bamboo cutting boards. There’s also a restaurant and bakery inside, so we pigged out to fuel up for the next stop.

Goat on a roof 1
Goats on a roof

Then we continued on to our real destination: Cathedral Grove (MacMillan Provincial Park), one of the last standing old growth forests on Vancouver island. Seeing the huge cedar and fir trees was pretty incredible. What was even more incredible is that somehow, there aren’t any mosquitoes on Vancouver Island. I want to live here already.

Here’s a picture of what’s called a nurse tree: an ancient cedar has fallen, and the nutrients in its roots have served to feed a new generation of trees on top of it. What’s neat is that if I aim the camera lens down the length of the fallen tree, the perspective can make it look like it’s a path through a mature forest.

View down a log
Nurse tree

There’s a lot of moss growing on these trees. For that matter, there’s a lot of moss growing on some of the houses on Vancouver Island – they really ought to have steel roofs, or something else other than asphalt shingles. Here’s a branch up high where so much moss has grown around it and sort of merged a few branches to make it look just like a bear licking its paws!

Bear moss

Since I’m a very amateur photographer, I sometimes like to play with the settings on my camera to see what happens. Here’s a close-up shot of a blackberry blossom with and without flash:

Blackberry blossom with flash
Blackberry blossom without flash

My supervisor took the time to educate us on a few of the finer points of forestry as long as we were romping about on the trail. Here’s a stump that shows evidence of improper cutting technique. Ideally, this tree should have had a wedge taken out of one side, and then a cut come across cleanly from the other side to right where the wedge was cut. In this case, the logging was undercut and missed the wedge, so you can plainly see a lot of wood tissue that snapped off due to the forces of the tree put on that small area. It wasn’t a clean cut at all, and apparently that kind of stress break is not only bad for the value of the timber, but is also a dangerous, less controlled cut, and the lumberjack who cut that could face fines.

Bad tree cut

Here’s another pair of images taken with different camera settings. This time, I was adjusting the ISO and the colour balance (auto vs. cloudy) and you can clearly see how much of the lushness and depth of the greenery was restored by adjusting the colours.

Cathedral grove, default
Cathedral grove, manual white balance

“Imagine,” he says “having to hike through here, that kind of underbrush full of poison oak as you chart or prospect, and then on top of that you have to average 15 miles per day or you miss your float plane back out.” Then, pointing to the reeds below “And as if that wasn’t bad enough, picture how much water must come rushing through here in a big rainforest dump that it’s bent the reeds over like that along the ground.”

Bent reeds, strong current

From a distance, this splintered tree looked like a mess of mossy boards; I thought someone had tried to build a lean-to type shelter to live out here and the forest was taking it back. As you can probably see, it’s actually just the way a fallen tree trunk has splintered.

Splintered tree

This massive tree was at one point blocking the path, and was nearly as tall as I was. You can see where they had to cut through it to open the path up. Even though that tree was never cut standing upright, the loggers put in a neat looking wedge-type cut, like the previous stump should have had. My supervisor wonders if they were just in the habit of cutting their trees like that so they did it anyway, or if they were in the habit of cutting fallen trees like that to hide their bad cuts…

Massive tree blocking path

The largest tree in the Cathedral Grove is seen here, with another impressive fallen log in front of it. What’s interesting is that this same fallen log was there at least 50 years ago as my supervisor visited it as a kid. These trees not long live for hundreds of years, they also take hundreds of years to decay after they fall, perhaps due in part to the ability of cedar to resist insects and to a lesser degree, fungus. The bark has been worn to a glass-like finish over the years from all the people climbing on it to get pictures in front of the largest tree.

Biggest tree

The weather changed every few minutes on the drive back, with bright, sunny skies very suddenly leading to rain as we ducked into another valley, reminding us that we were in a rain forest. It was something else to see mountains wrapped in clouds, and even one peak that had a bit of snow still. Since it’s so hard to capture the magesty of distant mountains in a picture (since the contrast with the sky is generally poor), I’ve left this one as a fairly high resolution, so you will have to click here to see it.


Finally, we’re back to the hotel, and oddly enough the housekeeping staff has picked up my dirty laundry from the corner to which I banished it until repacking time and folded it neatly. Weird.

Folded laundry... err... thanks

The conference begins in earnest at 8 am, so I’m off to bed now.

One Response to “Victoria – Cathedral Grove Image Dump”

  1. Netbug Says:

    I gotta start traveling again. :(

    Purdy pictures.