The Ancient Forest

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    Have you ever wished you could travel through time? Well, wish no longer! While the future is still written in the stars, near Prince George you can take a trip back through time – way back.

    To reach the launch pad for our epic journey throughout time, we travelled a scenic 113km east of Prince George on Highway 16, seeing moose and black bears along the way. With any luck, some of British Columbia’s magnificent wildlife will also flank your path to what has become known as “the Ancient Forest”. Inconspicuously nestled just off the highway is an ecological treasure – the world’s furthest inland rain forest, an astonishing 800km from the Pacific coast.

    While I was sceptical about the existence of a rainforest just off the highway when standing in the parking lot, a rich, heavy, moisture-laden cocoon of forest air enveloped us as soon as we entered the Ancient Forest and unmistakably signified that we were indeed in a rain forest. And then you see them: the peaceful giants of the forest. These up to two thousand year old behemoths stand right next to the trail (think moderate gradients and sturdy footwear), and proudly boast their unfathomable circumference and height.

    The scents and smells of the forest air are as rich as the ecological history embodied in the trees, and one follows the trail in a sense of silent amazement. When one of the brethren dies and falls, it returns its nutrients to the earth and thus its death spawns new life – allowing visitors to wander between fallen giants that are covered in and surrounded by fresh new growth.

    Everything in the Ancient Forest is bigger – the trees, the ferns, and the awareness that as humans we are only privy to a snapshot of the cycle of life. As we made our way along the trail we reached Treebeard Falls, a picturesque cascade of clear, fresh water down a moderate rock face and further down the creek. After taking a little rest here and indulging in the timelessness of our surroundings, the trail took us gently back downhill and delivered us into the parking lot after a 90 minute hike.

    Then, as you see the first car zip by on the highway, you know that as quickly as the cocoon of damp forest air recoiled when you left the Ancient Forest, you have arrived back in a different world in which time is measured in minutes, and minutes are considered precious. No longer are you in a world that counts time in centuries and millennia, and you can’t help but think that for the brethren of the Ancient Forest, your visit has come and gone in the blink of an eye.

    So if you find yourself in the area, do be sure to make the time to visit these peaceful giants. By raising awareness of their ecological history and significance we can make sure that these behemoths, which have been around far longer than any one human, will have the opportunity to grace many more generations with their presence.

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