From what I know of Vancouver history, this place boomed big a hundred years ago alongside a massive tree cutting of the whole area. Visiting the local history section of the library or touring some of the historic buildings left in town will reveal images of men in thick boots and tough pants standing up against the fallen trunks of colossal trees. Their expressions are of both amazement and satisfaction; their work was hard but we can assume the payoff made at least some of them rich. The logging continued through the area that now makes up backyards, parks and highways until the trees had to be sought further away. By the middle of the century, Vancouver was a proper city with many residents not connected to the forestry industry. The new trees had begun to remake forests inside the city limits and people sought the city parks as as safe escape into the wildness they associate with their province.
The same thing happened in Florida where the changed to the landscape and ecosystems is perhaps more obvious. We don’t have mountains and canyons to hide the view there and the twisted streets of gated communities look like rubber stamp prints over the flat land if viewed from the sky. Only once in my life have I been to untouched forest in Florida. We learned about from a park ranger in the Everglades who explained how to get to a boardwalk that would take us through some of the only remaining old growth in the whole of the Southeast. It was set too far from the navigable road that snaked through the swamp and was simply ignored.
This week, we happened upon a little piece of green on the map that we’d never seen before and it turned out to be one of (if not the) only piece of unlogged forest left in the city limits of West Vancouver. Called Cypress Falls Park, this little spot offered a view of the forest as the rugged men of the last century would have seen. Yesterday, my shoulder carrying not an ax but my camera, I thought deeply about the men who entered nearby forests a generation ago.
It’s not often that we are able to commune with living things hundreds of years old and so much larger than ourselves. Technically it’s a pretty difficult “easy” hike but it offers the most stunning picture of wild B.C. that I’ve yet seen. Misty and serene, the forest here is haphazardly planned in the way only nature and time can manage. Thinking about the trees from a 21st century perspective, I don’t know why these weren’t taken. From what I have read about this park, no one else really does either. Like the little patch left in the Everglades I sat in years ago, this was perhaps just too slopped a hill or possibly it was just forgotten one outright. Lucky for us, I’d say. It’s good to be small in a wild place. For a moment, I was made insignificant in the lifetime of something older and wiser. I am left thankful for the oversight of ax-wielding men in suspenders with noting to lose and a country to gain.