Check out the summer issue of Explore Magazine for a feature interview I did on the topic of BC's ancient forests! The article covers the history of the Avatar Grove campaign, the economic value of standing old-growth forests, and debunks the BC government's claim that these forests are not endangered. Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce President, Dan Hager, and Spirit of the West co-owner, Rick Snowdon, share their personal experiences as tourism operators as well.
Hunting for big trees is, in my opinion, one of the very greatest adventures a person can embark on. It almost always involves a lot of bushwhacking through the dense and rugged forests found on BC’s coast (the fun part!) but thanks to recent improvements in satellite imagery, it’s sometimes possible to hone in on a specific tree even before you leave your house. When I first noticed the large crown and dark shadow looming above the forests near Cheewhat Lake in the screenshot below, I couldn’t get it out of my head. Was it a giant cedar? Something else? I didn’t know but It sure looked impressive! Months went by until finally I had a free day to make the 4 hour drive out there. A quick scope from the road with the drone revealed that it was not in fact a giant redcedar but a Sitka spruce! It was tall with a wide canopy and a decent size trunk. The next step was to push through the dense second-growth bordering the road to physically reach the base of the tree. By my best guess, it looked to be about 7 feet wide but was too difficult to measure since the back of the tree flared over a steep hillside. Though it didn’t turn out to be a record breaker, it was impressive none-the-less! And what it lead me to later that day (the giant cedars in the previous post) was well worth all the effort :)
I spent recently spent two days exploring for giant trees in the Cheewhat Lake region on southern Vancouver Island. Here is where you can find the Cheewhat Giant, Canada’s largest tree and also now the world’s largest western redcedar (20ft in diameter!). I have a personal goal of finding the new champion tree and figured this would be a good place to start looking! I didn’t end up finding it on this trip but I did see a number of exceptional cedars, including the one pictured above. There were also numerous CMT’s (culturally modified trees), including a partially finished canoe which was overgrown with plants and trees - so cool! The bushwhacking was intense and the mosquitoes were relentless but the rewards were huge. My next trip to this remote and wild landscape can’t come soon enough!
It's been a crazy summer with more adventures than ever and I have quite the backlog of photos to share but to start, here are some pics from a recent hiking trip along the Wild Side Trail on Flores Island - one of the most beautiful places on Earth! If you have 3 days, it's hard to think of a more rewarding place to visit. Located just north of Tofino in Clayoquot Sound, the trail's 11km length winds you along stunning coastlines, through amazing ancient forests, and ends at the long, sandy beaches of Cow Bay. Wildlife such as wolves, cougars, and bears are found here along with the rich cultural history of the Ahousaht First Nation, who still call the island home. You can catch a boat to Flores from Tofino for $20 through this water taxi and support the Ahousaht Nation - who's Land Use Plan Vision declares for more than 80% of their traditional territory to be protected from industrial activity - by paying the small trail and camping fee. Happy hiking!
2017 - a year that certainly seems to have had its fair share of ups and downs for many folks, myself included. Throughout it all though we learn valuable lessons, grow stronger, and remember to remain grateful for the simple gift of life itself. I was fortunate enough to be a part of some really amazing projects again this year, such as working with Ed Burtynsky, one of my earliest idols and inspirations in photography; having my photo published in Reader's Digest Magazine; guest judging the British Columbia Magazine Photo Contest; and embarking on a number of trips to explore and document incredible wilderness areas across Vancouver Island and BC. Below is a collection featuring some of my personal favourite photos from 2017. As always, I'm looking forward to what new places and faces this next year has in store. I hope you'll join me on the adventure! TJ. *Prints available here.
I'm excited to share the new documentary Giant Tree Hunters about the efforts to find and protect Canada's largest trees and grandest old-growth temperate rainforests on Vancouver Island! The film features the activities of Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners Ken Wu and myself; forest ecologists Dr. Andy MacKinnon and Dr. Sally Aitken of the BC Big Tree Registry; and tree climbers Matthew Beatty and Damien Carre of Expedition Old Growth. It was produced by Nootka St. Film Company for Telus Optik TV. Huge thanks to everyone who brought this project to life!