Great Bear Rainforest - Trip 2

In September of 2018, I spent 3 weeks in the Great Bear Rainforest working as a photographer & naturalist aboard a ship called the Maple Leaf. The Great Bear stretches along BC’s central and north coast and is part of the largest temperate rainforest in the world - 85% of which is now off limits to logging thanks to conservation efforts. From whales and wolves, bears and eagles, and waterfalls and tall granite walls, the region is stunning beyond words. Here are some photos from the second of two 8-day trips we embarked on while there.

Gear: Canon 5D MKIV, 15mm f2.8, 16-35mm f4 IS, 35mm 1.4 II, 24-70mm f4 IS, 100-400 IS L II.

Explore Magazine - Speak for the Trees

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.

The Hunt for a Big Tree

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 :)

Exploring Ancient Forests at Cheewhat Lake

An massive western redcedar tree measuring 14.6ft in diameter near Cheewhat Lake in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on southern Vancouver Island.

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!

Mossome Grove Tree Climb

Wow - what an experience!! Our good friends over at Expedition Old-Growth recently helped us ascend, measure, and document the tallest Sitka spruce tree in Mossome Grove near Port Renfrew! This incredible tree, which measures over 10ft wide at the base, came in at 246.5ft (75m) tall - as tall as a 23 story building! Its huge trunk splits in two about a third of the way up as well, creating two impressive and towering stems. Add in the mosses, ferns, and lichens and it was a beauty to behold! The experience of being high up in these ancient trees is virtually indescribable. Magical, exhilarating, and humbling might be a start. If this looks cool to you, be sure to check out and see when they're leading their next public tours. And while you're at it, be sure to ask the NDP government to implement old-growth protection policies that ensure places like this remain standing for generations to come: