In June 2018, I began visiting each of the trees on the BC Big Tree registry of Champion trees. This registry is maintained by the University of British Columbia's Forestry department. There are currently 43 trees on the list (for more on the nomination and verification process, please click here). I am chronicling each of these tree visits on this blog.
These trees are mostly located along the southwestern coast. Many are an easy day trip from my home, and some require trekking down logging roads and trails, in all corners of the province.
In visiting these trees, I am travelling in the unceded territories of Indigenous peoples across BC, and I am grateful to be a guest in these lands.
As is the goal of much exploration, because they are there; more to the point, because I want to see them in that environment. Some of these trees stand in old growth forests; others, surrounded by logged patches and residential areas, are all that is left of forests that were hundreds of years old.
The planners of the subdivision where I grew up, in Surrey, BC, maintained numerous old growth cedars and Douglas firs while developing the area. I played amongst these huge trees, sometimes hiding in their hollowed stumps, and became used to their towering presence; it is second nature for me to seek out these giants.
I regard the Tracking Giants project as a pilgrimage of sorts, the term used more to denote a spiritual quest or a trip of utmost respect than a journey with the purpose of conquest. These trees have endured and thrived despite logging, encroaching development, and loss of wilderness; it seems appropriate to pay homage.
By visiting these trees, coniferous and deciduous, I will be exploring varied landscapes of BC. The project is a way to reacquaint myself with towns and parks of the Pacific Northwest, and venture to islands and parts of the province unfamiliar to me.
Note that I am not an arborist or a forester or even a “citizen scientist”; at most, I am a keen observer. If you’ve come to this site looking for hard data, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you’re here because you’re interested in humans’ interactions with our natural environment and with each other, welcome!
May 30, 2018 marked my one-year anniversary back in Vancouver, after living in Toronto for nine years. On that day I was looking to start a blog that could document some of my adventures in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
I was also feeling a bit despondent about the romantic opportunities in Vancouver and the amount of time I was devoting to finding a "mate": reading dating profile after dating profile, going for coffee after coffee, falling into bed too quickly or not at all. My dear friend Kate Harris (who took the image above, of me biking in the Yukon in summer 2017) had just read an advance copy of Big Lonely Doug by Harley Rustad, and had trees on the brain. She suggested this BC Big Trees pilgrimage as a blog topic and I leapt; as I remarked to Kate, "I would rather read the trees' dating profiles." So these tree visits can also be considered dates in the truest romantic sense. On most days, finding the next tree on the Champions list is more important than finding an ideal partner who checks all my boxes. Independent woman, what?
My name is Amanda Lewis. I work as a book editor, and am currently Editorial Director at Page Two. I live with my cat, Mr. Charlie Cohen, in East Vancouver (unceded Coast Salish territories), Canada. Before starting at Page Two, I was a freelance editor and worked as an editor at Penguin Random House Canada. I am co-founder and literary director of The Reading Line, a non-profit organization that uses Book Rides to celebrate books and bikes, and advocates for infrastructure improvements for cyclists and pedestrians. I seem to spend most of my time in a magical world called the internet, but when I'm not behind a computer I am biking, hiking, and bouldering. I have no idea what my MBTI is, but you're likely speaking too loudly and I'd like to go home now.