A Gordon Henschel original painting.

A Brush with Henschel: A trail of mystery

This painting was not of the “hollow tree” but a small 5x7 inch study done in watercolour.

There are a few favourite spots on North Island to which I keep returning, some of which are trails, for I love to walk. The Marble River Trail is right up there on my list of special places that call me back again and again. It is a silent place with the murmur of the river below barely perceptible; a place to dream and meditate with little interruption.

There are other hikers, of course, but if you wander off the trail just a little you become one with the forest; your privacy quickly becomes secure. Any sounds from the trail are soon muffled among the sheer density of the thousands of trees and the moss-carpeted floor. It is quite impossible to get lost because you are always in the valley with the river below. I often find myself sketching one of the giant old cedar snags on the lower side of the trail.

The snags are mysterious entities that somehow seem out of place in this young forest. Most trees here are between fifty and a hundred years old, while these old cedars, many of them scorched and scarred by some horrible holocaust, remain as evidence of an age old forest of monstrous proportions.

As one ambles down this serpentine walk, delighting in a new vista at every turn, these skeletons present themselves. They are as great grandfathers presiding over a very young generation, seemingly lost without fathers or grandfathers. Each time I return there the mystery presents itself. Where are the “in-between” generations? When was there a great fire? What were the events that shaped this enigma?

Am I sounding too somber? If so, I want to re-emphasize the joy of this trail. Only about 4.5 km. in length, it’s great for a short, day-hike accompanied by a picnic lunch in your backpack. On the day I painted the accompanying study of an old cedar snag I met part of the E-team working on the trail at Bear Falls. Delighted that I was painting “their trail”, they pointed out some of the great spots and told me about a particularly big, hollow tree that I should investigate. This painting was not of the “hollow tree” but a small 5×7 inch study done in watercolour.

For those of you who haven’t been on the trail, even if you’re not a hiker, don’t miss walking at least part of it. Just drive down the Port Alice road to Marble River Provincial Park, go to the far end of the upper level campground and look for the trail sign. If you don’t care to walk the whole 4.5 km., let me suggest Bear Falls at 2 km. A great hike any time of the year.

Comments e-mail: ghenschel@shaw.ca, or website: www.henschel.ca

Just Posted

Port Hardy RCMP’s second quarterly report

“There is a big jump from the first quarter to the second quarter”

Port Alice road under threat from wildfire

The fire was first discovered on Aug. 11 and is currently estimated at 10 hectares in size.

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

Trudeau says he won’t apologize to heckler, pledges to call out ‘hate speech’

Prime Minister had accused woman of racism as she shouted about illegal immigration at Quebec rally

Documentary filmed in B.C. nominated in ‘Wildlife Oscars’’

Toad People is the only Canadian film to be nominated in this year’s Panda Wilderness Awards

B.C. man builds 10-foot sign thanking fire responders

Ken Rawson built his “thank u” sign on Saturday as helicopters responded to fires around the province.

PHOTOS: Olympian Patrick Chan helps B.C.’s ‘SuperChefs’ celebrate 10th anniversary

Former figure skater among those at event Friday in Surrey

Smaller B.C. bus service prepares to replace Greyhound

Kootenay-to-Okanagan run would require online reservations

Tara’s Tee Box: Target, commit, and go

“You only need to commit to your choices and where you want the ball to go.”

Mother charged with homicide of Langley seven-year-old

Aaliyah Rosa’s 36-year-old mother charged with second degree murder: IHIT

Smoke from B.C. wildfires prompts air quality advisories across Western Canada

A massive cloud of smoke hangs over B.C. and Alberta due to wildfires

Most Read