Sunday, July 10, 2011

Trip Report from Brother's Creek Ancient Forest Hike. July 10th, 2011

A group of nearly 50 enjoying the last remarkable site of the day: The Hollyburn Fir.
This tree is 1350 years old and 3 m thick at breast height.

There is no doubt that a forecast of warm sunny weather contributed to the excellent turnout of nearly 50 people for this hike. Meanwhile, many people had reportedly not come due to the warning that this was a difficult and strenous hike. In the end the sunny and dry weather resulted in good conditions and pleasant hiking for most of the day. One hiker hurt her ankle towards the very end of the hike but she managed to tough it for the rest of the hike with the aid of walking sticks scavenged from the forest by the other hikers. 

The highlights were most certainly the wondrous forest of ancient douglas-firs that has succumbed to old age and the stress of having all the cedars logged off around it leaving a single veteran tree still alive. Also, as we strolled along into the heart of the ancient forest where the thick and gnarled cedars loomed the group agreed to move in silence so as to appreciate the sounds of the forest and direct their attention to the forest that was changing around us. It felt brilliant to walk in such a large yet stealth group and I think that everybody felt some keen awareness and appreciation for the forest at this point. 

With its wealth of historical artifacts, and the juxtaposition of young beside very old forests and enormous trees surrounded by average-sized trees the Brother's Creek area makes for a fascinating trip and educational experience. I truly hope that this area, which currently has no legal protection or park status, remains in a natural state so that visitors from the busy city below have the opportunity that our group had on this hike to learn about the forests, to connect with nature and to revitalize their minds in the fresh air and tranquil groves found such a short distance from downtown.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sunday July 10th, 2011 Come refresh your mind and expand your knowledge of BC's old-growth forests on this spectacular and adventurous hike in West Vancouver. No RSVP required.

A Winter Visit to the Climax Forests of Western Red-cedar at Brothers Creek in West Vancouver. Photo: Ira Sutherland

Who and Why?: The mandate of the UBC Ancient forest Committee (AFC) is to raise awareness for the depletion of British Columbia's Ancient Forests and urge politicians and foresters to create a sustainable forestry plan. Essential to this is the preservation of sufficient tracts of old-growth forest to maintain the ecological, cultural, spiritual and economic benefits they offer. With the intention of increasing Vancouverite’s awareness and knowledge of the ancient forests of BC, the AFC offers free guided old-growth hikes to explore the impressive scattered remains of the ‘The Great Vancouver Forest’.

Description of the Hike: Join the AFC on Sunday July 10 for an adventurous 6 hour hike as we explore hidden old growth forests above West Vancouver's British Properties. Logging in West Vancouver reached far up the mountainside but halted at Brother's Creek where large stands of very old western red-cedars and scattered Douglas-firs of monumental size were spared the axe and left for us to see. This hike is certainly one of the most thrilling and beautiful old-growth adventures in the Vancouver area yet sees far fewer visitors than many of the regions other ancient forests. The hike will be led by Ira Sutherland who is a student at the Faculty of Forestry of UBC and frequently visits the area in search of unlogged stands and remarkable trees.

Veteran Douglas-fir at Brother's Creek in West
Vancouver. Photo: Ira Sutherland
This is a challenging hike and is recommended for fit and experienced hikers only. It involves an elevation change of nearly 400m over about 13km, uses some undefined trails, requires crossing numerous old and slippery trail bridges, crosses one creek on stepping stones and has one short section of a very steep and partly exposed trail leading in and out of a ravine. It is important that all participants understand the hazards of this hike and assume responsibility for their own safety. Every hiker is required to sign a waiver on the morning of the hike. Everybody should bring water, lunch, sturdy footwear and appropriate clothing (Better to be more prepared than less!). Hiking poles and of course your camera are highly recommended to bring.

The hike is tough but very rewarding. After passing historical artifacts from logging in the 1920's we will visit an old Douglas-fir that has outlived the rest of the forest it grew up with. This veteran is very large and in stark contrast to the small trees around it. Then we will continue to gain elevation and enter an ancient forest of Western Red-cedar that has existed along the banks of Brother's Creek for perhaps thousands of years without a stand-replacing disturbance. Along the way we will observe the difference in structure between the young and old forests and consider the implications this has for carbon storage, biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. Interesting tree species and plants will be seen along the way. If we have time at the end we will detour towards the Hollyburn-fir, which is a monumental Douglas-fir that has a diameter of over 3 m and an astonishing age of 1350 years. Also, we will pass several wonderful views of the tumbling cascades of Brother's Creek. No RSVP required. Just show up on time, prepared and enthused.

This guided hike is totally free! If the hike inspires anyone to support the goal of preserving more of BC's threatened ancient forests but they are too busy to contribute time then donations will be gladly accepted by the hard-working folks at the Ancient Forest Alliance. Otherwise get involved through volunteering and help guide the Province towards sustainable forest management.

Enormous Western red-cedar in Brother's Creek
cedar grove 
Where and when?: We are meeting at 11:45 AM on Sunday July 10th at the Beginning of The Brothers Creek Fire-road in West Vancouver. This is on Millstream Road between Henlow Road and Craigmont road at the height of the British Properties. The hike will be over by 5:30 PM (nearly 6 hours) The Location is accessible by public transportation! 

Please email if you have any questions.

How to get there:
If you are driving then you should print off these Driving Directions because the British Properties are a bit confusing to navigate. There are not any noticeable trailhead signs or a parking lot visible from the road so you should be looking for a short driveway that spurs upwards from Millstream road between Henlow and Craigmont and then terminates after 30m at a locked wire gate where a small signs indicates the strart of the Brother's Creek Trail. Please do not obstruct the fire-road access or any driveways as you park. 

With public transportation take bus #254 from Park royal Shopping Center in West Van. You must catch the 11:25 AM bus because this bus only runs once every two hours on Sunday (Because of this the hike will be complete before the 5:38 PM bus arrives to return you to Park Royal). Get off the #254 bus at Crestwell Rd. and Eyremount Drive. From there follow Crestline Rd. immediately uphill before turning left onto the steep hill of Henlow Rd. After reaching the top of Henlow Rd. turn right onto Millstream Road and the fire-road access and trailhead is visible ahead on the left. For directions to get to Park Royal by public transit see and use their 'trip planner' with Park Royal as your destination.
Lynn Valley old-growth hemlock forest. Vancouverites are fortunate to have easy access to the high quality hiking and revitalization opportunities provided by the numerous old growth forests in the area.  Photo: Ira Sutherland