March Lake old-growth

March Lake old-growth
by Nancy Pezel, 27 Sep

After about an hour’s drive up logging roads, 13 members enjoyed a leisurely walk along a newly constructed portion of the Sunshine Coast Trail (SCT) just north of March Lake.  The overcast skies provided perfect conditions for hiking and photography.

After walking approximately 15 m off an existing logging road, we were onto the SCT and into a 65 year old western hemlock, Amabilis fir and western red cedar forest that established after logging and a fire in the 1940s, likely at the time the Spring Lake logging camp burned to the ground.

A little further along the trail we came into the old growth forest, evidenced by the more open canopy and resulting increase in understory vegetation, varying ages and heights of trees, a lack of first growth stumps and no evidence of the fire.  The understory vegetation consists of a few varieties of blueberries, false azalea, some salal and numerous moss species.  This forest is in a protected Old Growth Management Area and consists of western hemlock, Amabalis fir and some smaller and large diameter yellow cedar.  The larger trees are estimated to be 257 years old, but the forest only averages 28 m in height.  The tallest trees in the area are approximately 38 m tall, and we thought those might include the larger yellow cedar, and a large diameter white pine.  It is unusual to find yellow cedar growing at this 600m elevation, but it is likely because of the colder climate in the low lying areas around March Lake and nearby wetlands.  At the far end of the old forest, we enjoyed our lunch on a series of boardwalks PRPAWs had constructed over a wet area.  A perfect spot for social distancing!  As we walked back towards the vehicles, we took a short side trail down to March Lake to enjoy the views and see some of the late season flowering Gentians, as well as sundews and other wetland vegetation on the shore of the lake.

When we got back to the vehicles we were surprised to find that one of Tom’s tires was completely flat!  Apparently it takes 1 can of sealant, 1 small air compressor (thank you Claudia!) and 13 naturalists to fix a tire when the spare can’t be lowered from it’s spot under the vehicle!!