In Search of Incomappleux

posted in: Canada, Fitness, Mindfulness, Travel | 2

In Search of Incomappleaux

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In Search of Incomappleux, Mix Hart

Trees love to toss and sway; they make such happy noises – Emily Carr

This the second instalment in a series documenting my quest to find a hidden interior, temperate rainforest with ancient trees–over 1000 years old! The valley I search for is called “Incomappleaux.” The Incomappleux Valley is the southern tip of the inland temperate rainforest and home to fabled old growth forests.

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In Search of Incomappleux, Mix Hart
Once we arrive across the ferry (Upper Arrow Lake),  we immediately realize how useless our directions to the abandoned mountain hostel are. The road we are supposed to access doesn’t exist.

We track down a few campers along the lake shore who are able to direct us to a cabin in the woods, where we might find “Patrick.”

Patrick: a long-time resident of the area and the best person to direct us on our quest….

This is where our journey last left off. I continue with further notes from the field:

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We find Patrick down a gravel road, busily building a cabin in the woods. He proves to be very informative about our quest to reach the Incomappleaux Valley.

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He tells us that a mining company has removed a bridge and thus, one can no longer bike to the walking trail because the trail is completely overgrown with moss and branches from trees and ground bushes. Also, because the bridge is gone, if we survive the slippery, obstacle-laden, rough bike in to the walking trail, we then have to cross the mountain river on foot, carrying our bikes over our heads. To get to the heart of the valley, it’s another nearly 30+ km—by bike and then a hike.

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“How deep is the Incomappleux River this time of year?” I ask, thinking of our ten-year-old daughter. Patrick informs us that it is a glacier fed river and summer is high volume time, not spring; thus, on a warm day, the river might run tremendously deep and swift–it’s unpredictable.

Unfortunately, the Incomappleux River is not something we are prepared to portage today, being already past noon and with our youngest daughter in tow.

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However, the good news is that that If we follow a mining road for as far as possible in our 4wd, we will then be able to bike along a decent trail and pass the oldest Cedar tree in the entire valley—Patrick estimates that the tree is 1500 years old. He describes her as gnarly and situated on the right hand side of the trail. He instructs us to keep going, over at least 4 bridges, until we find her!

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In Search of Incomappleux, Mix Hart

Our journey requires us to access a mining road, a few kilometres from Patrick’s cabin, and there we’ll find an old man sitting in a lawn chair. He is the gatekeeper of the mining road and we’ll be required to sign a sheet, releasing the mining company from any responsibility should we meet an untimely death on the rough mining road that leads towards the valley.

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We indeed find the old man, sitting on a lawn chair, in the middle of no where with his dog, guarding a dirt road–just like Patrick said we would. We sign the waver that he passes to us through our open car window and then we forge ahead, our destination unknown except for the determination to find the oldest tree in the valley.

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The mining road is very narrow with a wooden trestle style bridge that crosses above a raging glacial river. Patrick told us to keep a look out for Dolly Varden trout in the river below. The canyon views are a little terrifying but mostly unbelievably energizing! We slowly traverse the narrow bridge and then find a spot to pull over and walk back to view the canyon properly.

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We drive until we start to spot giant cedars at the side of the trail. We are all starving and decide to have our picnic lunch and then try the rest of the trail on our bikes.

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In Search of Incomappleux, Mix Hart

Below: We find her, the oldest tree in the valley! She is a beauty and standing under her, I sense her strength, wisdom, and history. Patrick estimates she is near 1500 years old; judging her size and form, I believe she is the oldest living cedar tree I have ever seen in BC.

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We dine amongst majesties: towering, giant cedars, all over 1000 yeas old, commanded our presence. We have not dined with such grand and majestic company ever before. I refer to each these great old beauties as “your majesty.”

Every day, it seems, I slip deeper into my love of the wilderness. My wild self is in the constant process of being stripped, layer by layer, of the paint that society has dressed me in. I feel at home in the forest. I find comfort in the trees’ presence, as though they are companions. It is true, that in my darkest hours, I seek the safety of the forest to breathe again; and in these time, trees have supported me: I’ve leaned on them and they’ve helped hold me up.

Trees are amazing life forms; sadly, they are undervalued by most humans–so many see them as nothing more than lumber. Aside from being the “lungs” of Earth, they are fascinating life forms with abilities we are only beginning to grasp.

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We feel as though we could bike forever on the trails–the scenery so raw, wild and the air, mountain fresh!

Once the sun begins to lower, we decide it is time to move on, to a spot Patrick told us that me must visit (about another 1/2 drive East): the ancient cedars near Trout Lake (check back soon for my final secret rainforest instalment).

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“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.

― Chris Maser, Forest Primeval: The Natural History of an Ancient Forest

2 Responses

  1. Luke Robinson
    | Reply

    Great story and wonderful photos! I’d love to visit that valley. I’m down in Montana (where part of the Inland Temperate Rainforest lies) and my goal is to get up there soon!

    • mixhart
      | Reply

      Thank you! It is a magical place–primeval forest.

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