photo c/o Google Images
Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park,
Carmanah Valley, Vancouver Island, BC
In the bowels of luxuriant rainforest along the Lower Valley of the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park a muddy, rugged trail meanders as thread dangled from a sewing needle, twisted and undulant passage through sacred, untouched wilderness, a sanctuary of immense proportion.
My footsteps fall in calculated measure, these backpacker trails not for the idly curious nor inexperienced. In the depths of this magnificent protected old-growth forest ecosystem rest a flora and fauna of rich and pastel greens, moss and huge, sprawling fern amoung groves of spruce trees where the biomass (weight of plants per hectare) is nearly double that of a tropical forest. It is stunning.
The sights and sounds and fragrance of marsh and creek watersheds cleanse the palette, mind and soul. A gentle Pacific breeze draws the fern to tremor, black bear raising their muzzles in cautious survey of my presence a comfortable distance away. A small cluster of red-crowned crane lay nestled in slumber, their strikingly rich colour and beauteous elegance a conspicuous and commanding contrast to their lush green surroundings.
Foot-trodden passage carries rightful adaptation in the names of Coast Tower, Three Sisters, Grunt’s Grove, Paradise Pool and Heaven Tree. I pause in infinitesimal stature to these monolith stands of tall wood, Sitka Spruce that reach heavenward to dizzying heights of over three-hundred meters, ten feet across their sprawling base and weathered the likes of over one-thousand years.
For a moment I close my eyes and smell…and listen, seeing the spread of a bald eagle’s wings in midst of flight, its prey dangling from its talons in fateful resign for it will soon become the food source of hungered awaiting mouths of newborn nested. I hear the gentle rustle of the leaves of abundant Cedar, and too, I hear the faint, deep, hollow enchantment of distant Nitinaht flute in tribal recant, an exaltation of their native lore and the might and majesty of their Carmanah dwelling.
In the depths of this coastal island forest sanctuary…Carmanah awaits.
Gnarled Sitka tree trunks awkward surround
Roots rising in silent tanglement
Towering monoliths overwhelm
My intrinsic sensibilities
Piercing the remnants of morning’s fog
To night’s starlit heavens far above
I stand infinitesimal to
Their leviathan caricature
Rainforest riches of lime-green moss
Cling on Citcus Spruce that touch the sky
Sidehills far below of mantis green
Fern leaf infusions, brilliant canvas
And there beyond the pathway nestles
Red-crowned crane, indifferent, slumber
Their resplendent attentions pander
Each other amidst rain forest green
Along Heaven Tree my footsteps fall
Ever silent to Pacific winds
As Spruce limbs sway in gentle camber
To the distant hollow Nitinaht
Flute as it echoes its ghostly chant
In worship to the backcountry trails
A redundant sea lashing at shores
To the call of Carmanah waiting
Copyright Don MacIver 2012; All Rights Reserved