Englishman River Falls, BC

picnicintreesA break in the rain inspires an outing, and we grab our cameras and jackets and head north along the main highway.  We are looking for signs to the Englishman River Falls.  The route is well marked.

This drive, like many others we have taken, is lined by tall trees, taking us deep within the rainforest.

“The island gets in your blood,” others have warned me.  I can feel it happening.

We park in the generous lot provided and head to the marked path.

“Is is a long hike to the falls?”  Ric asks a man and woman just returning from their outing.

“A stone’s throw.”

Englishman.pngWe can already hear the roar of the water.  We pass a picnic area, ascend a small incline and see a pedestrian bridge ahead.  To our right are stairs leading to a lookout, and just past, the falls – a torrent of water rushing over giant boulders, cascading far below.

We ready our cameras and eagerly step out onto the bridge and the combination of water, sound and height throws me into vertigo.  I grip the railing and will myself to focus on the lens view.  This scene is too fantastic to miss.

smallwaterfallRic lingers for more pictures and I wander back onto solid ground, following the path on the other side of the falls.  I find myself alone in a sea of green, and I feel like I’ve been transported to another universe.  Time and resilience has preserved the sanctity of this place that was once home to Native Peoples.  Reverence fills me.

shapesinwoods.pngHere, deep in the woods, the clear waters of a small creek trickle by, and even though I am alone, I sense a presence.  I search about for the source, but there are only shadows – distorted images playing tricks on my mind.  I return to the falls.

Ric’s knees are so bad that he doesn’t last long, and I know he’s likely waiting for me in the truck.

We drive away in silence, another piece of the island seeping into our blood.

 

 

 

 

Cathedral Grove

Cathedraltrees.pngHighway 4 cuts across the interior of Vancouver Island, twisting through the mountains.  It’s been twenty years since I’ve passed this way and yet, when the endless rows of trees open to reveal the stillness of Cameron Lake, with mountains in her backdrop, my reaction is the same:  the sheer beauty brings tears to my eyes.

Of course, I did not have my camera ready, but we park at the entrance to Cathedral Grove and enter the enchanted rainforest, armed and ready to capture the glory.  Determined to get to the lake, I follow the trail to the left, only stopping briefly to ogle the trees whose presence lends their name to this place.

treefaceThe reverence of the grove has not altered, although there are now trails clearly marked, and fenced walkways to keep visitors on the path.  My memory, from so long ago, is of women, on a spiritual quest, wandering freely amongst the giants, finding quiet corners in which to meditate.

I slip off the path and stand at the water’s edge and contemplate another time, another woman, whose life would be forever changed upon return from this sacred place – a marriage of seventeen years about to end.

 

CameronLakeThis lake is still the same, although her edges are more cluttered than I’d recalled – fallen trees and weeds blocking the approach.   I forgive her this, recognizing that I too have changed, my edges marred by storms’ debris.  She, however; remains steadfastly at peace, her essence immutable.

Immersed in the green majesty, I understand now the magic of the grove: how fantastical imaginings seep from the crevices beneath mossy covered roots, and how a woman, with heart open, might have experienced magic here once. I wonder if I’ve lost that capacity: to be inspired by the unknown, the invisible, or if the need for the supernatural has passed me by.

growthfromdeathEverywhere I look there are symbols of death and rebirth – life finding roots in what has ceased to be.

Nature has so much to teach us, her lessons timeless and irreproachable.

Cathedral Grove continues to be a mystical place.