I have been aware since I arrived that the forests here are unlike any I have been in before. Many of the trees here are several hundred years old and have a radius exceeding the length of our Ministry of Forest’s largest increment borer, making a precise age determination unavailable.
Only recently did I discover that several of the largest Sitka spruce in BC are located on Haida Gwaii. The provincial big tree registry lists circumference, height, and canopy spread for up to ten of the largest trees of each native species along with an aggregate score using the AFA points system. The Sitka with the largest aggregate score was the target of one of my most recent adventures.
The big tree is in a stand of old growth near where one of the primary logging roads originally ran along the Yakoun River. When it was first built, the Queen Charlotte Main line journeyed north along the east side of the Yakoun river. A few hundred metres from where the big tree is, a bridge was built to cross the Yakoun and continue north on the way to Juskatla and Port Clements. In the 1970’s that bridge washed out and a set of roads on the west side of the river were connect to the north instead of rebuilding the bridge. The new Queen Charlotte Main crosses the Yakoun river further south, near Yakoun Lake, where the river is still relatively small.
That original Queen Charlotte Main is no longer in much use and so now the tree is located down 4.5 km of under-maintained logging road. I wasn’t too concerned about the walk but was keen to find an alternative. A conversation with a fellow named Mike at the Ministry of Forests helped me pinpoint exactly where the tree was – on the south side of the river to the east of the old bridge site – but I was warned that fording the river was not likely to be possible. Mike spoke of an idea to fall a medium-large tree across the river near the old bridge site to make a foot crossing. Alas, this was still a dream so I was braced for a 9 km return trip on foot.
In order to get my bearings first, I decided to visit the north side of the old bridge site. Less than a kilometre away I saw something that led me to feel excitement and joy.
A rather substantial tree has recently fallen across the Yakoun, easily big enough to comfortably walk upon!
I crossed the newly formed bridge. Bear shit was abound on both sides of the bridge. Dauntless, I ventured forth, but with a substantial change in my noise output.
After a few moments of searching, I found the tree I was looking for!