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Hiking through History by Teresa Burton

Hiking Trails - Flora/Fauna - Safety Outdoors- Tides
Harrison's Plankboard Trail
Map of Trails (resolution 1540x942x96dpi - 70,029 bytes)

Round Trip 3 km/1.86 miles - Allow 1 Hour

The trail has two ends and can be hiked by leaving a vehicle parked at both ends, or by starting at the east end and doubling back. The problem with the first is that the logging road accessing the west end has had cross ditching dug at intervals along the route and is only accessible with a high clearance truck. If you want to hike there and back, then start from the east side off of the West Coast Road, where there is ample parking 100 meters uphill (south) from the trail head.

The trail follows the track of an old plank road built in the early '40s for hauling out timber. The road, built strong enough for big trucks and heavy loads, was not disassembled after logging was completed, and so you can still see obvious remains. The grade of the trail is gradual and from east to west your trip will be uphill, leaving the easier down grade for your return. The road skirts around a hill which gives you a great view of the forest. This is a mixture of 50-year old hemlock, balsam, cedar and, of course, the fast growing Red alder that loves to take over the disturbed soils of our roadsides.

It was in the early 1940s when Stan Harrison's truck driver took to the planks. Much skill was required, especially in the rain when the boards did not have much traction. And, though the grade is slight, the heavy load would slip, causing the truck to shift and slide along the planks. When the truck fell from the planks, it would take a big bounce to get it back on again. The driver, being quick on his reflexes, works to keep the truck on the road and out of the occasional mud hole. This is not an easy maneuver on a road that acted like a slide, because the brakes can't be applied and the steering is not very precise.

Now you may wonder why, or even get a chuckle about this road construction method, but in Stan Harrison's early days of logging as an independent, it was a cost necessity to build plank roads. Not only could the operation not support the cost of roads built of rock and surfaced with gravel, but the rock and gravel were not locally available. At this time, all other logging was done by train. Harrison hereafter graduated from this method of road building when he went into a "stump to dump" contract with Malahat Logging Company whereby Malahat built the roads and bridges.

When Harrison worked on this site, everything was hand felled and pulled to the roadsides using high-lead (spar tree) and gas donkey engines. You can see one or more of the stumps that were used to anchor the guy-lines coming from a spar tree. However, you will definitely see all the springboard cut stumps that show you some of the sizes of timber he got out of here, It seems like such a dark and still forest now, given back to nature, where the owl hoots, the bears shit and the deer browse.

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