Vancouver Island is a finger of land located just a few miles off the west coast of Canada. Separated from the mainland of BC and Washington State in the US by a series of straits, the island itself is largely unpopulated with huge tracts of land having never had the opportunity to bear witness to a human being. With over 12,000 square miles of land and less than a million people populating it, you can travel vast distances on the rugged terrain or across serendipitous bodies of water in total solitude. It’s this seclusion that makes the hundreds of miles of Vancouver Island’s coast so gorgeous to see, creating a wonderful and unique adventure for those who like to explore and wander.
Our coastlines are some of our favorite treasures. Many of the bays and inlets are only accessible by boat, or in some rare cases by traveling across harsh and rugged logging roads. But, that’s far from our only natural attraction, the island also hosts a large number of species of soaring trees.
Vancouver Island lies in the temperate rainforest biome. On the southern and eastern portions of the island, this is characterized by Douglas-fir, western red cedar, arbutus (or madrone), Garry oak, salal, Oregon-grape, and manzanita. Moreover, Vancouver Island is the location where the Douglas-fir was first recorded by Archibald Menzies. Vancouver Island is also the location where some of the tallest Douglas firs were recorded. This southeastern portion of the island is the most heavily populated region of Vancouver Island and a major area for recreation. The northern, western, and most of the central portions of the island are home to the coniferous “big trees” associated with British Columbia’s coast — western hemlock, western red cedar, Pacific Silver Fir, yellow cedar, Douglas-fir, grand fir, Sitka spruce, and western white pine. It is also characterized by bigleaf maple, red alder, sword fern, and red huckleberry.
This very convergence of forest and ocean creates simply magical places unlike those found anywhere else in the world.
Winters can be harsh by the standards of the local residents. We typically get very little snow in the winter, and when it comes it dusts the gorgeous landscapes in pure white that adds so much character to the scene. Far more normal is a climate in the winter that sees the island immersed in rain, ranging from a delicate mist in the air to downpours described as “the heaven’s opening up”. Stalwart trees often struggle to survive in this setting, growing in the strangest formations almost as if reaching out to the sky for help.
A visit to some of the bays and inlets reveals vignettes that illustrate the relationship between man and our environment. The tall trees are dominant in the scenes, and people who make these enchanted spots their homes tend to carve out just enough land to place a house, completely surrounded by the thick and towering trees that create a lush green blanket over the island.
A sense of sweet desolation is found everywhere. This leaves you feeling as if you’re the only living soul in the world, surrounded by nature and creatures that are simply beyond description in their beauty. Cities and communities dot the coastline as you make your way primarily north and south on the island, but between the bustling communities is mile after mile of raw nature.
No two days are alike here on Vancouver Island. You can visit and revisit and revisit the same spot, experiencing something special and new with each sojourn. Come see for yourself!!
Photos are © Scott Johnson – All Rights Reserved
First published at Toad Hollow Photography