Walking the Old Growth Alley Trail
This past week has been full of activity on Haida Gwaii with the Tlell Fall Fair on August 1st (I know, I know.. FALL fair? The Tlell Fair is an ajudicated fall fair but the only time they can get a judge on the island is the long weekend in August, so we are famous for the earliest fall fair in British Columbia!) and last weekend was the Edge of the World Music Festival also in Tlell.
A survivor of the Great Fire
As we run a bed and breakfast it was very busy here, so when you can take a break you do.
Dwarfed by big trees
Thursday we took a walk on the Old Growth Alley trail along the Tlell River. The forests of Haida Gwaii are a mixed forest of Sitka Spruce, Western Red Cedar and Hemlock, with Western Red Cedar considered the Tree of Life by the Haida and the "money tree" by the loggers. In 1840 a huge forest fire swept through the southern part of Graham Island and destroyed most of the forest and much of the monumental timber was burned to the ground. The new forest is mostly Sitka Spruce.
Western Red Cedar
Along the Old Growth Alley Trail there are the remains of some beautiful old Cedar.
Most trees when cut start to decompose, Cedar on the other hand will stay sound for 100s of years. There are huge trees that were cut down a 100 years ago but where too big to move which are now being removed from the forest and being used to make those expensive cedar shakes you can buy for your home! This stump may be hundreds of years old, birds drop seeds or the winds blow cones into the raagged top and the stump becomes a nursery for new growth, hence "nurse log". As the cedar finally goes back to the earth the roots of the Sitka Spruce are exposed.
Remains of poles at Skuung Gwaay, A World Heritage Site
The Haida used the remarkable Western Red Cedar for carving their Totem Poles
and their 50' and 60' ocean-going canoes. The above photo is what is known as a canoe blank. The tree would be cut down using fire and stone/shell instruments and carved into its basic shape where the tree was felled. It would then be carried to the river or ocean and carved out and steamed open with hot rocks.
When complete they are beautiful and surprisingly light.
The Sitka Spruce where used during the Second World War to make the Mosquito Aircraft. The tree is now considered a trash tree by loggers.
They are some of the largest trees found on Haida Gwaii now. The one above is 17' in diameter and it is considered small!
They never fail to impress. One of these huge spruce could supply enough timber to frame a whole neighbourhood of appropriately sized homes!
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