Hidden in a remote river valley just north of Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, there is a magical place called Avatar Grove. One damp spring day last year I got a chance to go an explore this unspoiled patch of ancient cedar and fir trees.
After driving up the highway through the coastal rainforest we left the pavement behind for the logging roads that would take us up into the Gordon River Valley. We would cross a very high bridge over the river, then a second smaller bridge, and the pink ribbon we were looking for would be just a few hundred meters on from there. We spotted it and left the logging road behind for the virgin woods. The old growth trees spread out above and around us like buttresses for the sky.
We hiked carefully through the forest, from one sacred giant to the next. Each tree was entirely unique. Just as no two old men have the same wrinkles on their faces, no two ancient trees have the same gnarl or twist. For that moment, I felt tied in to the patchwork and weave of the forest’s inner life in – a synaesthetic orchestra of sound, smell, colour, and feeling.
The ride home felt like it took ten minutes. We were all wrapped up in the aftertaste of an amazing experience. As the sun went down the road became a dark tunnel back to the reality of city life. But we were all refreshed and renewed by the experience. In a way, we brought a piece of the forest home with us in the shared memory of our time in the company of those ancient trees.