It is easy to get caught up in the majesty and immensity of west coast forests. They are really really big, after all. But sometimes it is good to remember that a forest is made up of individual trees, and those trees are just as amazing as the forest they create.
A good place to do this is in Cathedral Grove, here on Vancouver Island. On the road to Port Alberni and the west coast, Cathedral Grove is a small, unassuming piece of forest on the highway. But step off the highway and onto the paths of the forest, and the trees start to tell their story. The park has been around for a long time, and there are sign boards throughout giving a museum-quality introduction to the trees and aspects of their lives in the forest.
Cathedral Grove has a giant Douglas Fir (the tree that makes up a large part of our island forests) that is well over 800 years old. It is humbling and more than awe-inspiring to stand in front of it and feel very little and insignificant.
The Grove is very popular with tourists, but the four adult islanders who went to the park that day all admitted the last time they were likely there was as teen-agers. We can’t do that, I don’t think, we can’t forget our local history nor take for granted our great wealth. Those trees are a legacy to this island, and they deserve to be recognized as more than a forest.