Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: DeadfallDeadfall means a tangled mass of fallen trees and branches.  There are several name variations for fallen trees that are commonly used in Whistler.  Windthrow, blowdown and windsnap are used somewhat interchangeably with deadfall.  Deadfall is a more generalized term that literally means dead and fallen, as in a dead and fallen tree.  Windthrow and blowdown, however are more specifically used to refer to trees blown over and uprooted by strong winds during storms. 

Whistler & Garibaldi Hiking

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Encountering a fallen tree while hiking in Whistler is usually the result of a storm over the winter uprooting the tree and leaving it sprawled over the forest floor.  This you would call deadfall, or more specifically a blowdown or windthrow.  If the tree did not uproot, but instead was broken along its trunk it would be called windsnap.  Seeing these in the forest is always an impressive sight, owing to the tremendous strain that the tree must have been under in order to break along its massive trunk.  In a large diameter tree recently broken, the remaining stump will often have a jagged crown of spears pointing to the sky.  Other examples of windsnap you often see in Whistler will have twisted apart and left a bizarre spiral pattern in the mangled stump.  Large and tall trees are more susceptible to storms as their tremendous size and mass put enormous strain on their ability to anchor to the ground.  Therefore, along the Cheakamus Lake trail in Garibaldi Park in the spring, for example, will almost guarantee you will encounter a massive deadfall.  Of course, you will also be hiking past deadfall from the previous decades that were too enormous to move and required a section to be chainsawed out to unblock the trail.  Some impressive deadfalls on the Cheakamus Lake trail have actually altered the direction of the trail to bend around and between massive deadfall trees.

Cheakamus Lake Trail Altering Deadfall

Birkenhead Lake is beautiful lake in the mountains north of Whistler and much of the shoreline is crisscrossed with beautifully mangled deadfall.  The Wilderness Trail that runs along the right side of the lake from the campsite is a very nice trail and due to the extreme slope down from the mountain to the lake, there is a nearly constant show of deadfall.

Deadfall in Birkenhead Lake

Deadfall in Birkenhead Lake

Whistler's Ancient Cedars trail is similarly defined by deadfall.  One huge, fallen western redcedar has a large section cut out of it so people can walk through, instead of over or around this ancient giant.  Ancient Cedars is a wonderful place to see dramatically beautiful and monstrous trees, but also to marvel at the bewildering array of deadfall in this isolated forest narrowly rescued from the chainsaw just a few decades ago.

Ancient Cedars Deadfall

Causes of deadfall, windthrow, blowdown and windsnap are largely determined by storm exposure and how well they are anchored to the ground.  Windsnap, however, has another important cause that leaves them vulnerable to storms.  Decayed trunks, fungus induced patches of dead tissue, or insect damage can weaken a tree enough to snap it when stressed by high winds.  These are three examples of windsnap found in Whistler on the trail to Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Park.  The weird spiral windsnap in the middle picture is not as rare as you might expect.  Another good example is found about 4 kilometres along the Rubble Creek trail, also in Garibaldi Park.

Windsnap Deadfall in Whistler

Other contributors to deadfall, windthrow and blowdown are water erosion undermining a trees roots, or soil erosion from growing on steep terrain.  Another cause is the removal of neighbouring trees through logging or road building can expose extant trees to stronger winds and more strain on their roots.  This wonderfully huge example of windthrow or blowdown came down in a storm in 2015.  Located in the midst of the Madeley Lake campground it has remained an absurdly and hilariously huge obstacle for over a year, until some trail work and chainsawing redirected the trail.  The trail now awkwardly bends around the massive, splayed roots and it is now an interesting feature along the short path to the outhouse.

Deadfall Wall Madeley Lake

Deadfall can actually provide significant benefits to promoting a healthy forest.  Studies of forests in the Pacific Northwest of the United States have shown that the large bare patches revealed by uprooted trees become areas of higher biodiversity than the surrounding forest floor.  This is due to the tremendous influx of seeds into the newly opened ground as well as the newly opened canopy allowing sun and rain in where previously it was largely blocked.  The deadfall itself quickly becomes an advantageous place for seedlings to grow as the decaying tree is nutrient rich, excellent at holding moisture and is elevated above the ground toward the sun.  Nurse logs and nurse stumps are often extraordinary sights to see, like this famous example along the Schooner Trail in Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island.

Nurse Log in Tofino

Garibaldi Park Wildlife & History

Plants of the Whistler RegionA Passion for MountainsPlants of the Whistler Region is an excellent book that includes great pictures and descriptions of most trees you will find in Whistler. Small enough to fit in your pocket and comprehensive enough to identify most things you will encounter growing in the forests of Whistler. Along with conifer trees and broadleaf trees the book has chapters on flowers, berries, ferns and shrubs. You can find Plants of the Whistler Region on Amazon, the Whistler Library and at Armchair Books in Whistler Village. The author Collin Varner has a wonderful series of Plants of.. books on various regions beyond Whistler. Plants of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, Plants of the Gulf and San Juan Islands and Southern Vancouver Island, and Plants of the West Coast Trail. In the last couple years he has started a new series of books. The Flora and Fauna of Coastal British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest and Edible and Medicinal Flora of the West Coast: British Columbia and the Pacific NorthwestA Passion for Mountains by Kathryn Bridge is a fascinating look at Don and Phyllis Munday's prolific exploration of the mountains in BC.  Based out of Vancouver, they were dominant figures of the climbing community in the early 1900's.  In 1923 they visited their friend Neal Carter in Alta Lake(Whistler) and explored the mountains around the valley.. many for the first time!

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Whistler & Garibaldi Hiking

Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerAlexander Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyAncient Cedars  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerBlack Tusk  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerBlackcomb Mountain  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerBrandywine Falls  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrandywine Meadows  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrew Lake  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerCallaghan Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerCheakamus Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyCheakamus River  Whistler Hiking Trail HardCirque Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyFlank Trail  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Park  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerHelm Creek  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyJane Lakes  Joffre Lakes Hike in Whistler in SeptemberJoffre Lakes  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyKeyhole Hot Springs  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyLogger’s Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyMadeley Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMeager Hot Springs Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerNairn Falls  Whistler Hiking Trail HardNewt Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerPanorama Ridge  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyRainbow Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRainbow Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyRing Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRusset Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasySea to Sky Trail  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSkookumchuck Hot Springs  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSloquet Hot Springs  Sproatt East  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerSproatt West  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerTaylor Meadows  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyTrain Wreck  Hiking Trail Hard - Whistler TrailsWedgemount Lake  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerWhistler Mountain

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