Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Sunday we saw this Eagle at the Mendenhall Landing. It was actually swooping down on a group of 8 Common Mergansers. Birds are getting ready to go South.
And I am flying East. Be back in 2 weeks!

Monday, September 15, 2008


Another glorious Fall day, warmer then it has been all summer.
The Mourning Cloak is still flying around, red and blue of annual garden flowers still coming to bloom. The odd wasp.
Yesterday we finally gathered Shaggy Mane, a wild mushroom. Was it too cool all summer?
After digging up all the spuds yesterday, Don and I set off to do some gathering.
With the Shaggy Mane, we all so found some Puff balls.
The Shaggy Mane, I clean them all off, put them in yogurt containers and freeze them raw. When I want to cook with them, I put them in the pot frozen.
The Puff balls, we ate today, in an omelet.

Takhini Elk herd

Sept. 14 2008
Not so wild.
The Takhini Elk herd is an introduced herd. And has been penned up all summer.
It is all very contradictory.
I am glad to see them alongside our highway again.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pond Creek

Mary, you are right! Mary thought me to make a psh, psh ,psh sound when a chickadee flies up to you, and indeed soon I was surrounded by at least 6 Chickadees.
This is so neat!
Here in the woods, there are always Chickadees. I also always encounter Juncos, but they apparently are migrants, and will leave for a short period. I will have to watch them this winter, now that I recognize them faster, to see if some do stay, or do we get a few migrants from the North?

Today I left at 8 am., just after daybreak. The day didn't look so promising. Yesterday was sunny, today cloudy. It even started to rain a little bit. But I was eager to go and left without rain gear, why not?
I took my bike, the long way towards Pond Creek. It's a familiar area in the winter, but last year in the Summer we got hopelessly lost in the area. All summer I have wanting to check it out, so next time I'll know the way.
I say the long way, because in the Winter we go across the 911 pond, in the Summer there are trails from the Champagne road. Which also saves me having to swim the Mendenhall river.
I go the same direction as towards the 911 pond. Interestingly enough, last time I went I think I had a hailstorm right on the highway where turning towards the pond.
Today that is where it was drizzling.
I stay on the highway, cross the Mendenhall bridge and turn left on the Champagne road. I only takes me half an hour to get to the trail. The weather is very calm.
The first part of the trail is beautiful, but very bumpy, (on the way back, I walk this stretch).
It is a meadow with little willows and miniature Spruce trees. Her and there a stand of poplars, some bright yellow, others bare. On the trail the yellow leaves. This all surrounded by dark Spruce Forest and the red mountains beyond.

15 minutes of bumping along, the road goes Eastward into the forest. It is here I sit under a Spruce tree, to stay out of the rain. I marvel how dry it is under here, only to come out and realize it stopped raining.
15 min. through the forest, where the road is more smooth. The old ruts of trucks, smoother then the newer ruts of ATVs.

At 9 AM. I come out in the open. The beautiful grass meadows. The grass is yellowish,
with the silver of Wild Sage. And more silver yet is mats of tiny leaves from an Antennaria (pussy toes). And some patches of grey mud, where the Glasswort grows which is pale dark red now, it used to be bright red a month ago.

I am South of the 911 Pond, the Mendenhall River in between. Which you don't see, because of the forest, These meadows large openings in the forest, some stringed together, some separate. It is a beautiful maze.

Anyway, today I will make sure I know which way leads to the little bridge at Pond creek. Thank you, thank you, whoever made that bridge. It's been there only a year or so. Mary spotted it on a ski trip last winter. Before that we had to ford the Creek, to continue. It is a deep creek. When I say ford, I think it means on can still walk, but in this creek that is barely possible, you kind of lunge yourself through it.

Back to the track; I follow the meadow, where it takes me, first South and then East, at the end it comes out on a bigger meadow, I turn South again. At this point there is a good visible trail. And I am following the main trail. But this trail is not always visible. The biking is actually fairly smooth. Going through a narrow, Oh I am
lost again, now, trying to recall it. Any way at one point the trail fades, and there
I can go right or left. Right seems obvious, but it is left. Ah it is impossible to
remember it all, I just have to go there twice a year, till it is totally imprinted in my memory.
Because at one point I have to turn into the forest, South. There is a tiny piece of blue ribbon hanging there, to mark the entry of the trail.

By the way, some one from Champagne, has a leash on this land, grazing pasture for their horses.

But lets keep going; Going South, following smaller meadows, which are attached by a trail through forest. When I come out on a little elevation, before descending in the willows, Someone has changed the trail. I follow the new trail, which follows a grassy ridge. And descents in the willows towards a stand of poplars, which I always use as an alignment to know where I am. I walk with my bike now, sometimes riding , but eventually I leave it behind. The new trail picks up the old one again, by an old big willow, which is another trail marker for me.

At 9.30 I reach Pond Creek, oh beautiful One, How delightful to see you!
It is a winding Creek.
The bridge is playing tricks on the mind, as it is a few bends away, placed in the opposite direction. As the creeks folds upon itself. The bridge goes from North to South, while the general direction of the trail is South.
Do you get it? I barely do.

On the other side, there is a long story again, and I do play around here for an hour, before I return.
The return trip takes me 2 hours, as it is slightly uphill.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Hidden Lakes and Grey Mountain.

Riverdale is a neighbourhood in Whitehorse. It is approximately a half hour walk from down town. Riverdale, being a beautiful neighbourhood itself, is surrounded by beautiful hiking and biking trails. In local stores you can buy a map. I bought mine at Icycle Sport.

Today, my long time employer and friend Fabiola Rayo, took me up one of her favorite trails.
Right from her house, we walked for only one hour round trip, and I finally got to see a part of Hidden Lakes. I did not now; it is gorgeous.

I think we first went up Peewee Hill, then Heartbreak Hill. ( These wonderful names, thanks to the mountain bikers, I think.) Saw a Hidden Lake, around another bent saw Schwatka Lake. We did get views of Whitehorse, but as I am always interested in Wild places, I didn't pause to have a good look, but I am sure Whitehorse did look good!
We came out on the Chadburn road and took other trails to get back to her house.

And I have to add, I was invited in to share a delicious Chilean meal.
I accepted the invitation gladly. Mercedes thank you so much.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wasps nest

Sept. 7 2008
In 'Peterson Field Guides, Insects' I read that these wasps are probably Yellowyackets.
When I zoom in on the original photo, they have yellow and black bands on their abdomen.
I will not go back for a closer look.
When I found this nest quite by accident, I was looking for rocks, I couldn't resist some photos.
It is a pretty big nest. This year we don't have many wasps, at least not yet.
When I came upon it, all was calm. When I walk around the nest, they obviously notice me, and some come after me, excitedly. I run away. When I look back, everybody is out and about,
zooming around the nest.
The nest is made by the wasps. It is a paper nest, it is quite amazing. They make the paper.
Twelve years ago I was stung by a wasp, which is in it self very painful, back then I had an allergic reaction(redness and swelling). over the years, after that I have been stung a half
dozen times, but never again had an adverse reaction.

Sand Dunes

Sept. 8 2008
In a place in between the Kusawa road and the Takhini river, there is this most incredible place; The Sand Dunes. You'd never know it if you weren't told about it. Years ago I happened to have a flat tire on the Kusawa road.( I advise you to drive slow on rough roads) Someone helped me to get my tire off, we got talking. Indeed, thank you so much gentleman, he told me.
At the end of a weekend camping, Sue Herbrick, our kids and I, decided to check it out. We tried to find it but no luck. We all get in the car again and drive on. Till Sue sees an opening in the forest, and says"lets try here" . We walk through the forest in the direction given.
And again today; what an amazing sight. Suddenly there's sand, lots of it, a tiny desert. With kids, what great fun to find such a BIG sandbox. But many, many times we have had great times with adults too.
Like today with Jane Jacobs. It's a place where our imagination runs wild. I will one day write more about it in detail, when I visit it again.
Today was again a lovely sunny day, and hot, walking over the dunes. We picked liters of Cranberries, hauled drinking water from Stony Creek, picked a few last Raspberries. Ate a dinner straight out of the garden(and wild).
All by all a splendid day!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rock-Flipping Day

Sept 7 2008
What did I find?
To respect even the little creatures, I tried to put the rock back in place as good as Icould.

Sept 7 2008
First I started flipping the 'wild' rocks around our house, which are few, nothing exciting , but nevertheless interesting. And maybe what I say is all quite obvious to you. I always come upon people that are really far more aware then I am.
The rocks here are darker on the underside then on the top; moisture.
Little grains of sand and tiny pieces of debris stick to it by means of little threads. I did not hold it under a microscope, so when I say threads, don't take it to literal. The hole, the rock would leave behind, was smooth, but filled up with loose sand, falling in from the sides. But if I was able to look in; everything in there was compressed to that smooth surface, tiny little sticks, etc. Sometimes live roots would run along that surface. And when there was ants, you could see holes in that, not so smooth anymore, surface. What was also neat; that most rocks here have more under the surface as is showing on top. Actually most of the rocks here I could not flip, as they were firmly implanted.

Later that day I went for a walk, to the 'old moose trail'. It runs through an old creek bed and there I found, the rocks too big and impossible to move, but one had a 'lid' on it. What I found is what you see. I think it is indeed a centipede.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rusty Blackbird

Sept. 6 2008

Enjoying my yard yesterday, it wasn't till 5 pm, I set of to the wild, to my very well known 'moose skull lake'. See pictures below and above. When I walk to the lake I cross that bush road , where I saw the bear, and indeed there are footprints. There is claw marks in the ground. In a brochure from the Yukon Government, it states that, that means it is mostly likely from a grizzly indeed. I did find the print rather wider then long, which means the opposite. But measuring the print, 8 inches wide, again suggests; Grizzly. Because it all went so fast I thought it could have been a brownish Black Bear.
The day is sunny and calm, but when I arrive at the lake there is still a slight ripple in the water, later on when I leave it is like a mirror. Well you see what it is in the photos I posted. The photo from myself was taken last week at Squange Lake. Here in the Yukon, a photo never catches it all, there is Beauty 360 degrees.

When I arrive, there are no birds in sight, but on the North end of the Lake, 3 interesting ones fly out of the grass, on the lake shore. I zoom them in with my camera, and looking at them at home, it turns out they are Rusty Blackbirds, which delights me, because that is not a bird I readily recognize yet. At the East end of the Lake there is a lone duck, and walking on the south side, there is a shore bird with a longish beak, making a certain sound. When I read my bird books; it suggest that the Shorebirds all have different voices. So much to learn, next time I will take particular notice of the sounds. For me, being more a visual person I guess, when I hear a new sound I have to analyze it and write it down phonetically right away. My memory doesn't carry the sound home.

As I probably have said before; the more I wander around at 'my little lake in the back' (moose skull). the more I love it.

Mourning Cloak

yesterday was a gorgeous day. In the morning I sat on my bench in the morning sun, having berry breakfast, talking on the phone for a long time. Amazingly on a day like this butterflies appear out of nowhere. This Mourning cloak looked fresh and new, it probably recently emerged. This one too will over winter, it is the first butterfly in the Spring. In my notes often April 16 and 17. Well let me write it down here exactly; 1998 April 16, 1999 April 16 ,2000 April 21, 2005 April 22. For missing years I might not have written it down , but also very likely I didn't see them that year in early Spring. According to 'The Butterflies of Canada' book, it comes out of hibernation in April, has a brood flying in June/July and a second brood in August. I am so glad I saw it and will look for it in April , wondering where it will be all winter sleeping. My other reference book ' Butterflies of Alberta' by John Acorn. Tells me in England they call it 'Camberwell Beauty' I like that! But I will stick to its Canadian name, which to me sounds like; morning cloak. And yesterday that is when I saw it on a beautiful morning, when the day is was cloaked in silence. ( I do not claim to be a poet, but forgive me for trying).
Beside the Mourning Cloak I saw two more butterflies, a Sulphur and a Comma.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Today I set out to make some photos of the beautiful fall colors we are experiencing here in Mendenhall. Both these pictures are taken on the same walk around 'moose skull lake'.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Highbush Cranbear

Yes Anke, I did see bears lately. Thanks for asking.
It is bear no. 10, a beautiful brown Grizz.

Anyway after being in a state of 'not knowing what to do' all day.
( I do get a lot of chores done on a day like that. Like; I might as well do something I don't like).
After I worked on my berry blog, I got inspired , jumped up, off to the Highbush Cranberry patch. The best section is where 'elfin creek' goes underground, close to the power line. I plan to get to it, taking the first part of the 'beach trail' and then turning west on to the bush road behind Mendenhall, which ends up on the power line access. My thinking cap not taken off yet, I by accident continue on the beach trail, crossing the road. well that is OK , I will follow 'elfin creek' from where this trail crosses it. Of course this was a most fantastic coincidence, right away by the creek, I am picking berries. On both sides of the creek there are berries everywhere. The Highbush cranberry is one that likes to be noticed. It's leaves often bright red, sometimes still green and even pinkish. The berries brilliant red today. Sometimes they are yellow orange. And you smell them before you even see them.
Beside the creek, through the horsetails, it looks like there has been some animal activity here. Later on I also come upon an old stump that has been taken apart lately, that is to me bear sign.

The forest here is always beautiful, but definitely this time. At one point I am in a whole field of berry bushes. It is then that I hear something suspicious. I start talking to whatever is out there. The poplars here are very tall and stand very close together. As the wind is softly blowing, it might be that they sway into each other, making sounds.
While talking and picking I move a little faster towards the power line, if I would be safe there, but at least it is more open. I am close to it because the creek has moved underground now. Which actually makes for a different look again. The forest floor brown with old leaves. The water obviously flows over it at times.
No more strange sounds, I pick some more here in the open, the berries most abundant here. I have picked this berry also at the coast. And when I say abundant ,it is nothing like in the Panhandle of Alaska. There they are like bunches of grapes!

I return home following the power line, the shortest route. But where it cuts that same bush road I, erroneously, (but you never really know these things.) I turn East. Which I do have to admit is turning back on where I heard the strange sounds, but staying south of it.
And I'll never know if what I come upon here, is what made the sounds. Suddenly I am eye to eye with that Grizzly. This time I have no time to even think to run away, because the bear turns with a deep growl and is off. Faster then I could even think. That is the trouble with bears, beside being potentially lethal, they are amazingly fast.

Southern Lakes

To keep things in order, I will post here, sometime in the next few days, my wilderness experiences of Sept 1.

Here I am! (Sept 7)
On the morning of September first I woke up in the camper. In sunshine above a mist covered lake. This small lake is along the highway just South of Squanga Lake. I always thought it was part of Squanga. Looking at the map, some water of Squanga probably goes underground to flow into the smaller lake. But really Squanga flows by the way of Snafu Lake into the Lubbock River which flows into (big) Atlin Lake. Where as, the small lake flows via an unnamed creek straight into Little Atlin Lake. Now the Question is where is the divide? Does all that water ends up by the way of the Yukon River in the Bering Sea?

Any way evening before we drove up an old mining road to camp in the middle of those two flows.We found a beautiful camping spot in an old gravel pit. We woke up with sunshine, but as I went for a walk continuing the mining road, it started to drizzle. The road was overgrown with Alders. I said I would be back in an hour , and had to turn around before I come out of the Alders.

Next pit stop was Tagish road to pick more Saskatoon berries. Excellent!

Don is working on tuesday again at Marsh Lake, where he will park the camper. Close by, we explore the McClinton River, and I am sorry to say that I didn't find it very eventful. I am sure people who live their have different experiences. We drove the McClinton road, parked the van and I walked following ATV trails, the one I was on was very, very muddy.The forest too thick to walk through. I did find a little trail that gave me a little bit of a view overlooking the river it self.

To finalize our stay we went to the beach on Marsh Lake, which is truly lovely and I am sure that is why people live around here. Still I was the only one enjoying the beach. looking at the waves rolling in, and building sandcastles.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Semipalmated Plover

Winter might wait a while!
On the morning of August 31 at Squanga Lake, we saw this , what I think is a juvenile Semipalmated Plover. According to the Yukon bird book, the adults are long gone by this time.
It does say some juveniles stay a little longer , but I like to think that this one is still here, because the weather will remain warm.
On the shore of Atlin Little lake an hour earlier we saw a Spotted Sandpiper in winter plumage, but it too had not returned South yet.

Squanga Lake

August 31 2008
When we arrive at the lake it is still covered in mist. How romantic. Here in the Yukon we are so spoiled, to have places like this almost all to ourselves. Today the only people sharing today are the ones that built a house (recently) 50 metres from the boat loading. That feels kind of awkward. But they have no objection to us putting our canoe in and parking our vehicles right in front of their house. We won't camp out here tonight though as we initially planned.too bad!

As the mist is clearing, we put our canoe in the water, and 'sail' off in the mirror like water. Loons are only company on the water. And later we see two swans. The lake is 9 km long, and we use a little outboard motor to get to the other end.
That's where the adventure really begins. Don and I have done this trip 2 years ago, and were successful in getting a Moose. The water soon is rippling, but it stays very calm and it turns very sunny.
This year the water is little higher, and slide over the beaver dam at the end of the lake with ease. We are now paddling in, I guess, a beaver pond, lots of ducks, marsh grass, beautiful. At the end of this pond, there is a canoe on the shore and somebody happily whistling, I hope we didn't disappoint him in disturbing his idyllic spot. We keep paddling while talking with him. Last time we got out here not knowing if we could continue, there is an old cabin and a trail to the next lake. Back then we found that the connecting creek is used by boats. This time we paddle right on trough, disappearing into the forest. We do have to get out of the boat and pull it, picking black currants on the way. The creek is maybe half a km. long, at the end a beaver dam, 1 metre high! we lift the canoe over and end up in a beautiful little lake. It is all part of a whole chain of lakes, and this one really part of the next one. We slide over another beaver dam and another? I lost count. We end up in a fairly big lake, 4 km long and 2 km wide, but with lots of islands and inlets. We canoe to investigate the south west corner. And an investigation it is.

Don likes to get out at the end where there seem to be prime Moose habitat, willows I guess. We see a good landing place, it almost looks like a man made trail. Right there at the shore is a caribou kill! After letting our presence known, we don't see animals, but their is sure lots of sign, and the smell of it all putrid. Only the antlers are left attached to a skull and part of the spine. It is sure kind of an awesome sight. We won't hang around. The only thing we see ,are two swans who leave an inland pond, as we are there.

We go to the north side of this arm of the lake, and climb on the high bank. Don has so much more feeling for the landscape, and recognizes we are just on the other side of the bank where we got the Moose in the next lake. And sure enough. When we get to the top, it is just a strip of land and we get glimpses through the forest of that lake.
The day is just gorgeous, we lay in the grass in the sun. Actually close to fresh bear scat, bright red with berries. Down below in the water some beavers are swimming. These guys have it made, their house is at the end of a spit of land,and they have no dams to maintain.

We paddle around and try our luck fishing, no fish for us, later we do see a little guy in a shallow part of this all. On the North arm we know their is an opening to the next lake, again due to the high water it is easy to get to. This is the lake we got the Moose. Which I look back on with ambivalence, but great excitement ( I am no hunter, but prefer to eat of the wild). So last time this is how far we got. Today we have time to explore this lake. As we get out on the south western arm, we climb up the high bank. The glaciers must have dropped here all those ridges, which now make islands, peninsulas and 'dikes' between lakes. From the top of this ridge we have a beautiful view into the next even more erratic lake. As I go exploring on the ridge, I find a lovely old little cabin and the trail that is been used to get from one lake to the other. It does go over a fairly high ridge, and it would mean ferrying our canoe overland. we leave that for another year.
We paddle to the North end and get out again. Their has been a forest fire here many years ago, and it makes for a beautiful open landscape. Don and I are so happy to have such a fantastic day, but from here we will turn back. We motor most of the way, still having a marvelous time. Close to the exposed beaver dam we paddle and I would have to like to shoot over it, but Don is the wiser one and we go over it carefully. Back to this lovely little creek.

On big Squanga, there is another party in a boat enjoying this gorgeous day. Lucky them.


Glorious! I am sitting here inside typing, while outside the sun is shining, a light breeze, that feeling of Autumn in the air. The Sun feels HOT!

The weekend was beautiful too. Saturday Don and I took all morning to get ready for a hunting trip. Finally around 3 pm we left for the Southern Lakes. Driving the orange Van with our green teslin river canoe on top. First we go to Don's temporary residence, a small camper on the job site.
He drives the camper and I the van. We park at a pull out on Little Atlin Lake. First we are off to a berry patch right on the lake. I probably will post a photo on my 'yukon wild berries' blog, the berries are the best we have ever seen them, Saskatoons. We fill our 4 litre ice cream buckets in no time at all. It is a beautiful spot, we have picked here many years. Every time having a bit of difficulty finding the exact spot. It is a fairly steep slope right on the lake. From the road you walk through the forest and come out in the open; willows, small aspen and saskatoon berry bushes. Down the slope close to the water, it is very wet and there are always many interesting flowers that I don't get to see at home. It is all still very beautiful but most flowers are in seed. A beaver swims by and 4 loons are in the water close by.

We are here right underneath White Mountain and we see a goat on the high cliffs. Back in the camper, we make supper and go to bed. I do like sleeping in a camper, while I lay down I can look out over the lake. And when I wake up in the middle of the night, see the brilliant stars. Don and I do get up at one point. There is no moon and the Milky way looks like Northern Lights so bright.
When we do get up in the morning, we are shrouded in mist. And it is Gorgeous. Slowly and mystical the mist lifts a little, Geese and other water birds are calling.
When we drive away, we come out of the mist in beautiful sunshine!