This past March we spent a week in Tucson to get some vitamin D sunshine! And it was J’s first trip to the desert, ever! We went on a couple of hikes, went to the amazing Kartchner Caverns, went to a desert botanical garden and bistro, Tohono Chul, and just hung out drinking tea at The Scented Leaf, where I picked up some nice green tea to take home.
Unfortunately, they don’t let you take pictures at Kartchner Caverns except on certain days and then you have to pay a lot of $$ so I don’t have anything to show you from our walk in the caves there but we did go to a great Mexican restaurant for lunch in a town close by. We asked the Cavern staff where to go and the woman said “Lucky for you that I’m a total foodie and you have to go to this hole in the wall place, Mi Casa Restaurant, in Benson. So we went and were not disappointed. It’s literally a Mom and Pop place; she cooks, he waits the tables. The food was great and we were satiated and happy.
We also “lounged” through an evening at Gates Pass to watch the sunset. Again, just perfect. I have lots of great shots from the trip; here’s just some of my favourites. Hope you enjoy. (Hint: click on a photo to see the full size image)
“I believe in the power and mystery of naming things. Language has the capacity to transform our cells, rearrange our learning patterns of behavior, and redirect our thinking. I believe in naming what’s right in front of us because that is often what is most visible. Eve Ensler
I love to put names on things. When I was an undergraduate at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse, (more years ago than I care to remember!) I took many many courses that involved using taxonomic keys to find out the common and scientific names of plants, animals, fungi and lots of other organisms. It was one of the things I most loved doing and when I graduated from ES&F, I asked my parents for a copy of Britton and Brown’s Illustrated Flora. This was in 2 volumes at that time and I was in heaven when they actually found it and gave it to me.
Over the years I have accumulated naturalist guidebooks for birds, fungi, ferns, lichens, plants, seashore and you name it. When I see something, I want to know what to call it. That’s how it becomes part of me and part of my sense of home and belonging. If I can name you, you’re a friend. For example, on one of the hikes I go on with my partner, J, we pass this old growth Douglas Fir and it is our favourite tree on that trail. The last time we went up I asked her, do you think it’s a grandmother or a grandfather. J, being the practical woman she is said “It’s just a tree.” Hmm. I like to honour these older trees when I pass by them and they often seem to have genders to me and since it was Just ATree, and to me it was obviously a grandmother, I have named it Grandmother JAT. Now it’s also a friend 🙂
So wy did I tell you all this? Well, I have been taking pictures of plants and animals for years and lately, I decided to go back through all my photos and use Photoshop to create my own attractive taxonomic pages. Because that helps me to remember what I’ve seen and named and adds to my circle of “friends”. I thought I’d share them with you in this blog from time to time. My ultimate plan is to print them out as full size photographic pages and make a scrapbook from them. There’s no order to them right now, just images I liked with their names and some other details. Here’s a few of those images.
These are some of the flowers I’ve photographed on hikes in the alpine. And the feature image at the top is one of the slime moulds I captured, Trichia decipiens, on a hike on Grouse Mt. a few years back.
Hope you enjoyed meeting and making some new friends.
In going back over the previous post, I realized I never showed you our campsite. That’s because I didn’t take any pictures of it! But S did and here’s what it looked like.
J and I setting up our tent
The 1 person tent S used
our tent is set up!
Hanging out around the cooking and general central area of our site
If you look closely, you can see me just sitting around in a folding chair. Not what I usually take on a “backpack” but as the Lake of the Woods camp site was only a kilometre from the drop off point, I figured I could endure carrying the chair for 20 minutes! So glad I did! Gave S my normal thermarest backpack chair and J brought her favourite backpack chair so we were pretty comfy.
Oh, and I forgot to tell you about another interesting development that we discovered when we started to cook dinner the first night. We brought my snowpeak propane backpack stove and my backpack popcan stove that uses methanol (methyl hydrate is what you purchase it as). Before we left home, I had assiduously filled up my gas transport bottle with methanol. At least that’s what I thought I did. So I filled up the popcan stove and tried to light it. It wasn’t lighting. It never not lights! I sniffed the container and realized I hadn’t looked at the label of the stock I had used to refill it. It was paint thinner, not methanol, and wouldn’t light! So that meant we had only 1 small stove for the 3 of us to make all our meals and couldn’t use a fire as there was a fire ban throughout BC because of all the wildfires! DOH! Well, we almost made it through but our last meal the propane tank ran out. Note to self; be more careful next time!
Ok, it’s day 2 and we are deciding where to go. As yesterday’s hike kind of wore us out a bit, we decided to take it easy. J and S decided they just wanted to go back to Ladyslipper lake and hang out there, maybe go swimming. I decided I really wanted to see Goat Lake so after a short way to Goat Lake, they headed back to the trail juncture and went back to Ladyslipper.
Good choice for me on my part. I hadn’t been hiking alone in quite a while and it turned out to be just what I needed! Here’s my trip to Goat lake, which failed to live up to its name as I didn’t see any goats there but filled my needs in all other aspects.
From our juncture, the trail descends into the valley that leads up to a basin where Goat lake is. Once in the valley, it’s a nice gentle trail to the lake. Easy walking 🙂
From the map I knew that the lake would be surrounded by a bunch of peaks and nestled into a basin. Every now and then, I would get a glimpse of where I was ultimately headed.
And you can now begin to see some of the devastation caused by the bark beetle. Most of the large spruce etc are dead. Fortunately, there are young trees springing up to replace them so in another 30 years or so, if they survive, it won’t look quite so desolate. You can also see the continuing effects the smoke was having on the views. Normally would have been clear blue sky with high definition on the mountains given the lens I was using.
Here’s a lovely boggy meadow filled with a sedge called narrow-leaved cotton grass and then a closeup of the actual cotton grass plant.
Getting a bit closer to the lake now.
And, tada! Finally made it to the lake.
It was a warm lovely day except for the smoke so I walked around to the other end of the lake and found a great spot from which to view both the surrounding mountains and the lake while I ate my lunch and drank my tea. Nice breeze to keep the bugs away, too. Happy camper I am.
So…. Goat lake is just a nice little lake. Nothing special about it except for where it is and the peaks that surround it. There were 2 other young folks there and they left before I did so I had the place all to myself for quite a nice bit of time.
I just love the rock that these mountains are composed of. It’s quite dramatic looking and it looks like it would be really fun to scramble up and climb if you were so inclined. Of course, much steeper than it looks in the photos!
After relaxing and taking a few more pictures, it’s time to head back. A parting shot of the lake on my way back out.
Took a few more photos of flowers and such.
Made it back to camp and joined up with J and S. Sponged off my sweat in Lake of the Woods, ate dinner and relaxed. Watched stars, fell asleep.
We had originally planned to leave on the 3:30 shuttle down so after a lazy breakfast we packed up camp and figured we could just leave our gear at the lodge and go for a day hike, returning just a bit before heading out.
Nope. As I mentioned in the previous post, due to the smoke coming into the park, BC Parks declared an evacuation of Cathedral Lakes Park. So we pared down our hike to a short jaunt over to Scout Lake which was just a km or so from the lodge and hoped we could get out on the 1 pm shuttle. No sense hanging around for more smoke!
Turned out to be a good plan. Wandered over to Scout lake and enjoyed ourselves and saw another of the lakes. Here’s a few pics.
I walked all the way around while J and S just stayed on one side. Here’s a nice sedge that I saw at the lake.
And a nice batch of Arnica next to a rock.
On the way out I went a little way past the lake to see the creek coming out of it and got a really nice shot.
It’s very peaceful looking, don’t you think?
Back to the lodge and it turns out that they decided to try to evacuate everyone on the 1pm shuttle. So they had 3 or 4 trucks going back down to the highway. Uneventful ride, back to the car and then back home.
So that’s our trip to Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park. Maybe we’ll go back when there isn’t any smoke and see all the wonderful views we were supposed to see originally. But there are just so many wonderful places to visit, that maybe we won’t. Only time will tell.
Hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of this wonderful park. We sure did!
I finally got to tick off a park that has long been on my bucket list, Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park. We had planned to go earlier in the summer and had paid and reserved our ride up but cancelled at the last minute because of all the smoke from forest fires in the area. Instead we went to Manning Park and had a great 3 day backpack with only a bit of smoky views the first day which cleared up nicely for the rest of the trip.
As it was getting near the end of summer, and we still wanted to go to Cathedral, we decided to head up last week. Smoke reports were pretty low and lodge staff said weather up in the park was great. So off we went on Sunday to go up on the 4PM shuttle figuring smoke wasn’t going to be in the picture. WRONG!
It was interesting just how the smoke behaved. It was coming up from Washington state fires and would come in during the day. Then the winds would die down and we would have perfectly clear skies to star gaze at night. Early mornings would look clear blue skies and then the wind would start to pick up and the smoke would move in.
We had planned 3 nights camping and coming back mid-afternoon on day 4. And that’s what we did, with a little “wrinkle”. We had reserved our ride out for the 3:30 shuttle but due to the smoke, it turned out that the park was told to evacuate everyone on that day. So we all headed down on the 1 PM shuttle, a couple of hours early.
Still, we got in some great hiking and interesting views. The smoky skies combined with all the dead spruce from the spruce bark beetle kill made for some very other-worldly landscapes. We felt like we could be on another planet, definitely not in BC!
I really enjoyed looking at the stars while falling asleep on Sunday night. We left the rainfly off the tent and had a clear view through the bug netting. Monday was our first and most strenuous day of hiking. Got up and had a leisurely camp breakfast. Lake of the Woods looked lovely. (Many of these photos are large panoramic stitches and you’ll only get the full meal deal if you click on them to view!)
Didn’t see any smoke yet. Plan for the day was to hike to Ladyslipper Lake and then up to the Rim, entering at Stone City. Here’s a map of the park and the core area. It was only a 250 metre climb to the Lake but we noticed that our energy was lower than usual. Well, the park and Lake of the Woods is at 2000 metres elevation so that might have had something to do with it!
Here we are coming down into Ladyslipper Lake.
For some reason, I got the map turned around in my head and when we got to the lake, we headed off along the North shore to the West end of the lake. Lots of people at the lake fishing and swimming.
We considered trying to make our way up to the rim through that terrain you’re looking at and decided not to. Retraced our way back to where we turned right and should have turned left and around and up we went. A view on the way back.
It was a pretty hot day and we started up the trail to the rim. We stopped to eat on the way up.
After eating, headed back onto the trail. Here we are almost up on the rim.
And you can see that the skies are no longer blue but the wind is now bringing the smoke up. Notice how much darker it is on the right than the left!
Finally made it to Stone City.
Star Trek or other space movies would have had a great time filming up here!
From Stone City we wandered Northwards along the rim to the Devil’s Woodpile. Love the orange lichens and other vegetation.
We’re now at about 2400 metres elevation
We loved this beautiful wide bench meadow. The colours are just so understated and subtle. And the smoke made it look so other worldly.
S standing on top of the Devil’s Woodpile
From here we continued along the rim to the trail down to Glacier Lake
The trail down to Glacier Lake. It was much more friendly than the trail up from Ladyslipper Lake and is the way most people get up on the rim if they leave from the lodge.
Another view of Pyramid Mountain as we head back down. Notice the sharp division between the smoky sky and not so smoky sky, and the colour of the sun, the white dot at the upper right in the smoke. To our eyes, it was actually a glowing red ball. Don’t quite know why it didn’t come out that way in the photo. Something to do with what lenses see vs what eyes see.
It was a full day of hiking. You can see the stats from my watch, here. Once back at camp, we relaxed, did a bit of swimming in Lake of the Woods to get the sweat off and really enjoyed eating our dinner.
Stay tuned for Day 2, coming your way in the not too distant future.
This past weekend, J and I headed into the Burke Mt area with a couple of friends to spend some time hiking and viewing a couple of waterfalls. The forecast was for clouds and the occasional shower. Luckily, we got the clouds but not the showers.
Our objectives were the Dry Crossing and Sawblade Falls, both on Coho Creek which tumbles down between a couple of unnamed peaks in Pinecone Burke Provincial Park.
The hike goes up several shared use hiker-mountain biker paths and old logging roads through several different forested areas with lots of lovely spring flowers along the trails, the most common being false solomon’s seal, star-flowered false solomon’s seal, foam flower, bunchberry, and yellow wood violets.
As it was a bit cool for the season, we also lucked out in not being bothered to any serious degree by our insect friends, although the occasional black fly needed brushing off. After a couple of hours we got to our first waterfall, Dry Crossing Falls.
One of the reasons we picked this hike was because we are still in the Spring run off season here in SW British Columbia and the waterfalls are just gushing spectacular amounts of water. A couple of creek crossings which in summer would be easily transversed required high level ballet type balancing to avoid serious foot and leg soaking! Not to mention avoiding the algae covered slippery rocks!!
From Dry Crossing Falls, we followed a rough route, the Sawblade Bike Trail, further downstream to arrive at what is becoming a fairly common local hiking destination, Sawblade Falls. About 30 minutes or so and we arrived at Sawblade falls.
Our plan was to eat lunch at Sawblade Falls and then head over to a couple of other falls on the way back to the car. What with the cooler weather, and a strong wet cool spray coming off the falls, we found a less exposed area behind a few trees where we could hear them but not see them and hunkered down and enjoyed our lunch. Here’s a video I took of the falls before we ate.
After lunch, and enjoying a last bit of falls viewing, we decided to forego the other falls and made our way back to the car to conclude a lovely day spent with friends and falls. A parting shot of Sawblade falls as we head back out.
Just a bit of warning; if you’ve never hiked this area before, most of these hikes start at a gate that is just a few hundred metres from a gun club so you often hear loud blasts of gunfire while you’re walking. But once you get far enough along, the gunshots diminish and forest sounds take over.
And just because you’ve been so patient, here’s another gusher we visited a few weeks ago in the Squamish area, Crooked Falls. Check out this video, too.
We do like our waterfalls and there are so many lovely ones here in BC.