Friday, April 13, 2007

Sointula 3

On our last full day in on Malcolm Island, Rachel and I went for another hike, this time from Bere Point (opposite Mt. Waddington, on mainland BC) to a canyon and back along the beach. The path made me think of nothing so much as Middle Earth. One of the highlights is a 212 ft. Sitka Spruce. Here's Rachel taking her measure against it:

Here's the view from Rachel's perspective:

You really get a sense in a place like this of how harmful logging practices must be. The forest is full of nurse logs, some of which have multiple trees growing out of them:

The soil in the rainforest is shallow and relatively poor (we could really see this as we walked along the beach, where in spots there was about a foot of soil on top of exposed rock) so the biomass of those dead trees is of vital importance to the health of the ecosystem.

It was neat to see several older trees that must have started off life on a nurse log that had long since rotted away to dirt, leaving the massive trees propped on a sort of root tripod. Here's Rachel in a root cave:

And here she is peeking through the rootmass of a fallen giant, giving a good picture not only of the size of the thing, but of how shallowly rooted it was:

Yesterday, we took the ferry over to Alert Bay (immortalised by Karen Solie in a powerful poem from Short Haul Engine). This is a funny process. You have to get on the ferry in Sointula, go to Port McNeil, drive off the ferry and get back in line to go to Alert Bay. So it takes about 1.5 hours to get from one place to the other, even though they're spitting distance from each other across the channel. In Alert Bay, we checked out the Umista Cultural Centre/Museum, a very well-run facility full of repatriated artefacts. The Centre is designed to resemble a traditional Nimpkish big house. It's a stark contrast to the building next door, a severely austere and dilapidated residential school.

After that, another ferry ride to Port McNeil, followed by a long drive and a final boat ride from Nanaimo back to Vancouver. Think I'll stay put for a bit...

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