At the Youbou junction just outside town at 8:30 a.m. the local Retreads group met up with members from the Duncan hiking club. We drove up the sunny side of the lake through Youbou and bumped along the forest roads past the end of the lake and eventually reached a tee junction. Turning right would take us to Port Alberni or Bamfield while turning left would take us towards Nitinat Lake and Carmanah Provinical Park.
We went left, skirted some rivers and climbed a hill past Nitinat Lake. Up top we stoped by a barely visible bridge. As we leaned out over the bridge we could barely see a small river through the trees far below. On further we found a pull-out and some red ribbons hanging on the trees. Precisely 87 kilometers and about 2 hours from the Youbou junction.
We found the narrow trail and worked our way over fallen logs and rocks down in the direction of the lake. After about 20 minutes we came to a huge cedar that has succumbed and is lying on its side. On further down and over more logs and swampy areas we came to two giant cedars that dwarfed the hiker who volunteered to climb onto the logs between the trees to take pictures.
Another 20 minutes and we reached the truly massive Cheewhat Cedar that was first identified by a retired logger some 20 years ago. Of course some enthusiast on a web page posted that this was a cool 30 minute hike but it took us an hour and 10 minutes. While around this tree we sat in small groups and enjoyed a brief lunch break. Then some of the more adventuresome members walked on with the aim of reaching the nearby Cheewhat Lake. After some time they returned and reported they did not get to the lake.
Was it worth the drive and hike? You bet it was. These are truly massive old growth Cedars, and we are pleased to see that they are now incorporated into the Pacific Rim National Park and as such are protected. The road journey was not too unpleasant and we have learned much more about the forest areas to our west.
—Submitted by David Kidd