Sunday, July 20, 2008

Collared Pika

in the very centre!

July 19 2008
1 day hike with Mary Whitley.

The weather prediction was not that good, but to me it looked OK, there being one sunny patch on the mountain we wanted to go up. We decided to go for it. Around 9.33 am we arrived by car at the beginning of a trail. Mary had found the trail by accident one day. It took us up a little right away, on the bank of a creek bed. Going west towards the mountain. Soon it turned north, we followed it for over an hour. Being a nice trail through the woods, a smaller creek along side and sometimes the creek would use the trail we were on. Soon enough we were getting views of the Takhini river,Vanier mountain, Kusawa lake and the unnamed lake in between.

The trail keeps going north, but eventually we want to end up on the mountain west. We turn off a single track too soon. Ending up in very difficult terrain. we are trashing through buck brush often higher then ourselves. Often no footing underneath. Once in a while a little opening in the brush gives us a breather. These openings are little meadows part of the watershed, little waterflows, around a big spruce tree, and small rock faces, that, the higher we go, turn rocky slopes, that eventually turn into the open mountain slopes. It is here that we hear the pikas and following Mary's suggestion, we hang around for a while, the pika too sits on a rock long enough for a photograph.

Both of us love looking at and naming the flowers. They first don't seem to be so abundant. I will make a list, and you will see they were plentiful. Very plentiful. Mary thought me many new names. Did she tell me name of this tiny, abundant cute one, that looks like a pincushion? It might be a kind of Pussy-toes (Antenaria) or is it a fleabane(Erigeron) without rays? (It's the Cat's Paw!)
The most beautiful one today, which I had never heard of or seen; one blooming, Saussurea angustofolium ssp yukonensii.
For most equisite color: Glaucus Gentian!
Most Glorieus: the Pink plumes of the Bistort.
It is a Polygonum, which relative grows in my weed garden; Knotweed. It's flowers barely visible. And then you see this Bistort on the mountain, its plumes 1cm diameter and 10cm tall in the brighest of bright pink, all over the mountain.
Most delicious; the leaves of the Mountain Sorrel.

We are in the high country, wide open slopes. The mountain is very rounded here, no steep slopes, We do go through a few gullies, some very barren and rocky, where the snow obviously has just melted.We cross one snowpatch and I think it is there that Mary spots the Golden Plover! Luckily we meet it again on the way back and get a better look and some photo's. It's a Plover(Shorebird) that builds its nest in the far north, but also here in the alpine tundra.I have to say, the sun never disappears for long. But all day of and on, we have some drizzle. Well drizzle ain't the right word for what comes to us here. It has turned very windy, and the rain cuts in your face. At no point we really get very wet. I suppose the wind blows us dry as the rain falls.
We braise ourselves in the wind and walk towards Jo-jo lake. We don't get to see the lake, as it is to deep down. We do enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains mostly in grey clouds .

On the way back The first time we see the rainbow, we are on the same level as the arch. Later we walk towards it. On our way back we some how skip the gullies. And want to come out on trail more south. Mary has been here before. We want to stay on the high bank of a creek. We go straight in the wind, which blows very fierce now, we scramble down rocks, the terrain here is fairly steep. Its that Mary knows, to me it looks if we are heading a cliff straight down. I am loving it. We surpass a very rocky outcrop, which I'd like to go to in better weather.From the bank we watch the other side of the creek, which has a stretch of sheer cliff. And once peaking down I spot a waterfall. Sometimes we have to turn into the forest, as there is no bank we can walk on. The higher forest here are miniature poplars. Its magical walking, we just fit under the canopy and easily squeeze through the many trees. We have a last rest on a friendly slope, which has been grazed short by the sheep. On this bank we actually follow game trails.

10 hours later, all too soon we reach the car.