We’ve all seen it before, the cartoon of the hero as he is chased by a mad villain across the countryside. Quickly making left turns, then right turns, trying to evade the bad guy in hot pursuit. All of a sudden there it is… that sign. That dastardly sign. The one that reads “Bridge Out Ahead”. As our hero comes across the edge of the bridge that hangs over the fast-moving river, he is suspended for several seconds with his feet madly running and hoping for the surface that once was there… only to find air and a sudden drop. It’s never the actual fall that hurts, it’s always the sudden landing at the bottom, they say.
It was the weirdest thing. It was a hot, hot July day on Vancouver Island and the notion of visiting Port Renfrew sounded great. We’d been planning on shooting a few of the features in the area, and the bridge we’re featuring in today’s post was one high on the to-do list. What we weren’t expecting as we made our way across kilometer after kilometer of logging road under the hot, pelting sun was to suddenly come across this. As we passed one of the spots we were planning on shooting this day under the brightest blue skies, we could see the color changing in the distance. As we got closer and closer to the phenomenon, the entire sky became utterly grey and the temperature dropped over 10* C almost instantly. We didn’t have proper clothing for this, and just as hot as we were a few hundred meters up the road, the contrast of finding ourselves shivering in the middle of summer was beyond strange. But this does happen in this area due to the proximity to the ocean and the way the land interacts with the weather patterns making their way inland.
I’ve known of the bridge for years now and have been anxiously waiting for a chance to photograph it. My biggest concern with sites like this is their propensity to suddenly disappear. Thankfully this wasn’t the case this time.
Remains of the old bridge can be found everywhere in the forest in the area. It looks to have been an engineering marvel at one time, linking two sections of roadway across a river tributary with a long and serious span of old-fashioned wooden bridge. These structures were often very narrow in nature, and it was really easy to imagine horse-drawn buggies making their way across the span, stopping to take turns for each other as vehicles approached from the other side.
As Mrs. Toad and I worked our way across the more modern replacement bridge to get to the composition we wanted, the vignette I was so hoping to see suddenly came into focus. As the ribbon of water makes its way across the lush forests of the area, it ducks under the remains of the original bridge creating a strong juxtaposition of mankind’s need to tame the land and make it habitable and passable against the unrelenting growth of the rainforest that makes its home here on Vancouver Island. Eventually nature always wins if left to her own devices.
I have a somewhat insatiable appetite for all things worn and weathered. The way that decay and gravity work together to reclaim the land is something I never tire of seeing. The stillness of the area, deep in the woods, added great drama to the mood and feeling we encountered with the forest draped in thick fog. Each piece of wood used in the construction of the bridge takes on its own form and shape as time continues to weather and stress it. Each piece has its own character and personality, one that is constantly changing.
Even the “modern” bridge that was created to replace the old one explored in today’s photographs is hardly a world-marvel of construction. Barely wider than a single lane of traffic, we had to hustle onto the bridge to capture the shots we wanted hand-held and then hustle off again with the hopes of not having to encounter one of the many modern motor-homes that were making their way in and out of the area. Bad timing would have found your two favorite Toads dangling from the side of the bridge and hoping for a miracle to save them.
I always find it so interesting to realize that the wood we have here on the island makes for some of the best construction material out there. If maintained properly, structures can last forever and carry incredible loads across them. If left to the ways of Mother Nature, it doesn’t take too long at all before the best laid plans of man are put aside in favor of natural progression. At times this leaves us feeling rather small and insignificant in terms of the universe we live in.
Thank you so much for your kind visit today. We really appreciate everyone who visits and we love to hear from you all, so please feel free to leave us any comments you may have. Until next time!