Saturday, July 26, 2008

Moss Campion and Frigid Arnica

going down, looking up

July 23, Shaneinbaw.
From the highway we biked up for one and a half hour, on a firm, but sandy trail. Turning muddy, which harbors the Valerian ( A favorite of mine), which landed us in a city park like valley, an undergrowth of Willow brush etc. with increasingly beautiful big Spruce trees, spread out, so each individual tree rises to its greatest potential.

We figure out a line to follow, and hike across the wetland, first Jane fills up her water bottle in a pond, but a little up she finds beautiful clear water, maybe a spring, which gives us a delicious draft. We are hiking towards sand dunes on the foot of the mountain. From the bikes it takes us 2 hours to come out above the treeline. I am thinking that seems to be the usual thing around here. The Valleys where we live are at just below 2500 feet and the treeline above 3500 feet. The toughest 1000 feet of elevation gain for me. I work out a pattern of climbing and resting which works for me, I stop at regular intervals, and very much enjoy the increasingly beautiful views, and the increasingly beautiful wild flowers. Adding to the list I made a few days ago.
Aria! I saw a field of Lupines like on your photo from Iceland. Gorgeous.
I said tough, but actually we are very lucky and follow moose trails most of the way.
Once I am beyond the steep climb above the treeline I gallop. Jane is ahead of me and sees a line of sheep on the mountain over, but still part of the Shaneinbaw Range ( which is not named on any map. The lake below is Shaneinbaw lake. The highest peak from this group is called Shaneinbaw mountain, so does that make this Shaneinbaw Range?)

Now we are up here we decide if we go on to that highest peak or follow the ridge above the lake. The snow helps us make the right decision, we don't quite know it yet , but we are in for a most amazing hike. About the snow, yes fresh snow, first I see little clusters of snow crystals behind every poll of grass. Dressed for the weather I am happy that it is not snowing now, or worse raining. Although when I am out here I enjoy it all.

I will maybe add a picture of flowers, which are totally amazing again today. But distinctly different. Today not many pink plumes of Bistort, but more of the Alpine Meadow Bistort(Polygonum viviparum). The most glorious on the uphill are the Blue For-get-me-nots. Up but especially later on down, there are many flowers from the pea family, which I have to identify another day. The Hedisarum alpinum, which is the Eskimo patato is the very same that grows at lower elevations.

Anyway This ridge is my dream come true. It is a mountain cut in half, by who knows what kind of event. We are walking on very top of the ridge, one side gently sloped (imagine gentle with wind and snow) But the side I am googling over, vertically down. On top of this ridge we are following a sheep trail 10 inches wide and often 10 inches deep. We follow their trail on to a rock outcrop down the vertical slope. You gotta see it. Its too much for words (one day I'll try). Back on the ridge we have a break just north of the top, the wind is coming from the south.
I definitely don't want to walk back into that wind and we decide to find a way down towards the lake, which again, was the best decision ever. On the map it looks like we might have to go all the way to the north end of the lake. But as it turns out we see from the top a beautifully green and white plateau a little lower.(you cannot see this from below) The green being grass and flowers, the white; Rock, crystal clear white rock as it turns out.

At this very moment as I am typing I am tantalized by the feeling that I just want to be there , right now.

Jane chooses a line down, starting by the most ,white outcrop, which is distinct from below. I would have thought it too dangerous , but as it turns out it is most spectacular and climbing down carefully I am not scared at any point as the rock provides solid steps.
We come out on a 'dune' which leads us straight to the lake. Where we watch the ducklings, have a fire and make soup and tea. Again we come upon a game trail which eventually crosses the meandering, sandy. small creek and brings us by the trail, which will bring us to our bikes.

Our legs are tired and it is totally invigorating to step on the bike. The trail has a perfect slop. Who ever made the trail (thank you) It is perfect. on a certain stretch it follows a ridge that is steep on both sides. As I get sand in my eyes, I have to take out my contact lenses and put on my glasses. I have fallen behind now, which gives me the opportunity to fly down to catch up. I love it!

footnote: one more flower, Androsace chamaejasme, Rock Jasmine.
Next time I encounter it I will hopefully recognize it and put my nose to it, it is fragrant!

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