“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir
At the end of the bumpy, rocky and damaged logging road beyond the tiny town of Port Renfrew, stand the relics of an ancient forest; towering to the sky, these giants have dominated the landscape for a thousand years. Even in a place as wild as Vancouver Island, the old growth rainforest is a rare sight and experience. Three hours from my home in Victoria, the mighty forest at Avatar Grove is a pilgrimage for any nature lover.
The wild road to Port Renfrew winds through the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, with incredible views of the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the thick forest on the other, this is one of those places where you can see a whale on your left and a bear on your right (we didn’t, but it’s possible!). Much the forest on the drive is dense, but some is logged, the scars obvious on the landscape, a reminder of how precious the few remaining areas of old growth forest are.
After a long drive we finally make it to Avatar Grove, the entrance is tucked away off the roadside; a simple boardwalk guides us through the dense forest. At the start of the walk you are welcomed by a giant cedar, a tree so tall you cannot see the top through the canopy. It was a lovely winter’s day, cool but bright, the air was fresh, the forest covered in moss and lichen, an indicator of the air quality. Walking through the forest is like stepping back in time, the giant ferns cover the floor, looking like something out of Jurassic Park, the thick moss on the ground adds to the colour of the forest, the tagline should be ’50 shades of green’.
The forest was quiet, with the only sounds coming from trees swaying and creaking in the coastal breeze and small flocks of bushtits and chickadees flitting through the canopy overhead. The trees really are the stars of the show, many of them five people wide, dwarfing any hiker that stands beneath them. A truly magical day in the forest.