Cathedral Gove: Green and Sacred… The Vancouver Island Adventure

Looking up at the towering canopy of trees, one easily understands how Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island in British Columbia received its name. There is both beauty and a sense of the sacred.

An Episcopal Minister once asked my daughter why I wasn’t in church.

“Oh, he’s out wandering in the woods,” she replied. “He considers it a sacred experience.”

“You can’t get absolution from a tree!” had been his angry retort.

I suspect the man had never hiked in the wilderness and experienced the sense of peace and healing such an experience can bring. Maybe he should have checked in with St. Francis. As for me, I go along with John Muir who said, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

I find any natural area, even a tree on a busy urban street, worthy of appreciation. But some areas deserve special attention. I’ve wandered the world to find them.

Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island in British Columbia is one such place. Ancient giants of the tree world call it home. This is a land of Red Cedars and Douglas Firs, some reaching 250 feet in height and dating back 800 years. It’s known as an old growth forest, which means it’s a rarity, one of the few forests to escape the relentless chainsaw.

This springboard tree attests to the fact that even a beautiful area like Cathedral Grove was subject to the woodsman's axe. Loggers cut the holes in the tree so they could put in planks to serve as a base for cutting the tree down. The bouncy nature of the plank gave it the name springboard.

Gradually we are learning to value and protect wilderness areas but it is a race against time. Driven by the desire to maximize profits and acting under the guise of job creation, timber interests continue to value forests primarily in terms of board feet produced.

As Peggy, Ken, Leslie and I hiked along the trails, we were struck by the beauty and greenness of the Grove. Hopefully my photographs below capture what we experienced. I found that provides a good overview on the Grove and the issues relating to protecting such areas.

An inviting path led into the green forest.


Ken and Leslie Lake, along with Peggy qualify as Tree Huggers.


Roots of a Cathedral Grove forest giant tower behind Leslie and Peggy. A sign at the entry warned that trees fall during wind storms and that visitors should vacate the premises. Sounds like good advice.


Reaching toward the sky, Cathedral Grove trees can reach a height of 250 feet.


Typical of Pacific Coast rain forests, moss covers everything, providing another definition to 'being green.'


Beyond the greenness, I also found the twisted shape of limbs interesting.


No imagination was required to turn this moss-covered limb into a forest sprite. Or maybe it was a forest sprite...


Speaking of sprites, it appears that Ken might be shape shifting into one in this photo of him along with Peggy and Leslie in a giant tree hollow.

9 comments on “Cathedral Gove: Green and Sacred… The Vancouver Island Adventure

    • Stealing our sunshine are they? When we are up at the cabin and look down tordwas town, we often see what look like better weather on the coast. And that’s what we say, “Powell River is stealing our sunshine.” – Margy

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