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 Park

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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

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.

Deadfall in Whistler's Ancient Cedars

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 deadsnap found in Whistler on the trail to Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Park.  The weird spiral deadsnap 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.

Examples of 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 Windthrow Blowdown at 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

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Surprisingly often in Whistler's forests you will find a tree growing on an old fallen tree or out of a decaying tree stump. Decaying logs and stumps in ...
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The Peak 2 Peak Gondola connects Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain at a dizzying height of 436 metres(1427 feet).  It runs all winter and in the ...
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The Cloudraker Skybridge and the Raven’s Eye Cliff Walk are new additions to the summit of Whistler Mountain.  The Cloudraker Skybridge stretches 130 ...
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Whistler spruce is a hybrid of the Sitka spruce and the interior Engelmann spruce. Sitka spruce trees thrive in the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest ...
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Tarn: a small alpine lake.  The word tarn originates from the Norse word tjorn which translates to English as pond.  In the United Kingdom, tarn is widely ...
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Inosculation is the technical name for two or more trees that have fused together into a single bizarre looking tree. They are colloquially known as ...
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Mountain hemlock is a species of hemlock that thrives along the west coast of North America from Alaska to California. In Whistler and Garibaldi Park you ...
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Cairns, inukshuks or inuksuks are a pile or arrangement of rocks used to indicate a route, landmark or a summit.  The word cairn originates from the ...
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Whistler & Garibaldi Park 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  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail ModerateRainbow 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  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMount Sproatt  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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Wedgemount Falls can be seen along the trail to Wedgemount Lake.  As the falls flow directly from Wedgemount Lake, they are located about three quarters ...
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Brandywine Falls is one of the must see sights on the way to or from Whistler. The falls drop from a 70 metre(230 feet), unnaturally abrupt looking cliff ...
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Holloway Falls is the beautiful waterfalls you see partway along the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park trail.  Located between Middle Joffre Lake and Upper ...
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Shannon Falls towers above Howe Sound at 335 metres as the third tallest falls in BC.  The wonderful, though very short trail winds through a beautiful old ...
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Ancient Cedars is a nice, easy/moderate 2.5 kilometre(1.6 mile) hiking trail on the far side of Cougar Mountain, just 13.1 kilometres north of Whistler Village. A small, untouched grove of huge western ...
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Cheakamus Lake is a wonderfully relaxing way to get in the wilderness easily and quickly from Whistler Village. The trail begins on the far side of Whistler Mountain, 8 kilometres from the Sea to Sky ...
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Logger's Lake is an amazing little lake hidden up in the deep forest above the more well known Cheakamus River. The lake, almost unbelievably exists in a long extinct volcano. However, as soon as you see the ...
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The Rainbow Trail is a convenient and popular trail near Whistler Village that takes you to Rainbow Lake as well as the Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail, Rainbow Falls, Hanging Lake, Madeley Lake, Beverley ...
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