More wildflowers

It’s been a great season for wildflowers – we saw something like 35 varieties over the weekend, 7 can be seen in this photo.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, it’s really hard to capture the richness of some of these flower meadows. But with practice comes a better understanding of what it takes to get a photo that at least begins to show just how many flowers were blooming in these meadows. This is a little more detail-oriented than my earlier post, taken with the telephoto lens to try and isolate a few key flowers and allow the colours in the background to tell the rest of the story. It works well enough for me.

I have to admit, I was surprised that I only saw about 35 flower species (there were probably more that I ignored and/or didn’t know); the vast array on display led me to believe that there would be more, but in reality the meadows were dominated by arnica and valerian, with paintbrush, lupines, and columbine next, plus a lot of Indian hellebore adding to the expanse of green. Glacier lilies were still blooming in abundance near the shrinking snow patches, and there were still patches of anemones in flower in addition to the abundance of moptops.

I’m trying to resist posting another glacier lily photo, but my resolve is subject to sudden weakening on that front…

Blue sky, blue lake

Blue sky, blue lake. Birkenhead and Sun God Mountain form the backdrop to Tenquille Lake, a view almost good enough to take your mind off all the mosquito bites…

Well, we couldn’t resist going back to Tenquille Lake this weekend, and our little CR-V got us up to the trailhead again with not too much difficulty. Once again we were greeted by merciless mosquitoes and I picked up more bites in the first 20 minutes of the hike than in the past couple of years! I counted 35 on one side of my back…

But as ever, it was all worthwhile to spend time in such beautiful surroundings. And yes, there were glacier lilies. Along with thousands of other flowers too; it was a stunning display.

This is a lazy photo, taken from the western end of the lake near where we camped. I could have got a better view of Sun God had I walked a couple of hundred metres further east to the next camping area, but we were just about to leave and I didn’t want to hold us up any longer than necessary. So it’s not ideal, but I really liked the colour of the lake (especially in contrast against the green of the trees, though that doesn’t show in this photo), and this was my only chance to take this photo. My goal for our next visit is to get a lovely sunset shot of Sun God Mountain living up to its name. Having been reminded of how beautiful this area is, I hope that will be sooner than another 6 years in the future!

Chipmunk

It’s been a few years since I saw this view – could be time to go back. Chipmunk Peak as seen from the Tenquille-Finch Ridge col. Look at that lovely expanse of green meadows; imagine the flowers…

Tenquille Lake was the first place we took our new-to-us SUV, a ’99 Honda CR-V, back in 2011. I still remember the elation of getting through the first water bar that would have stopped our previous car. I also remember the sounds of hitting the underside of the car on rocks, of scraping the mud-flaps going through water bars, and of alder tickling the paintwork. That last one in particular is a sound I never get used to. Real nails-on-a-blackboard stuff.

But we made it to the trailhead, where we were immediately set upon by hordes of mosquitoes. Thankfully they tapered off once we started hiking. Looking back, I realized that we did this hike on August 20th, and there were still glacier lilies blooming, so if we go back in the near future there’s every chance that I’ll be able add to my already-bulging glacier lily photo collection for 2017! Oh yeah, blah blah mountains, views etc.

The subject of this photo, Chipmunk Peak, is accessed via a different logging road, and is, by all accounts, a relatively easy scramble with superb views. Plus the meadows look spectacular. Maybe later this summer…

Columbia lilies

Columbia lilies in an open meadow for wildflower Wednesday – many of the orange blobs in this photo are Columbia lilies. Unfortunately my attempts to capture the extent of their bloom didn’t work out: I have a picture of orange dots in a field of mostly green. I’ve never seen so many in one place before, and it seemed like most of them had multiple flowers per stem, with as many as 5 on one.

I think this is my first Columbia lily photo on Instagram. I don’t have many photos of them because we simply don’t encounter that many on our hikes. I can think of a few places I’ve seen them, but they’re not as widespread as other flowers, and they don’t usually grow in abundance. Even where they do – such as the meadow in the photo above – trying to capture the sense of their number is really difficult as they’re tall and gangly flowers and they tend to be fairly spaced out. So I was happy to see that many of the stems had multiple flower heads, allowing me to get some more interesting photos, rather than simply a single flower atop a tall stalk.

One thing I noticed in taking pictures of these flowers with the Sony RX100II was that the red channel clipped very easily. As a result I have quite a few photos where the flowers are much yellower than in reality, and even processing from raw can’t bring the full detail back, so they remain kinda washed-out looking. I’ve got used to being a little cavalier with my exposure thanks to the dynamic range of the SLRs, and I guess this is one case where I well and truly hit the limits of what the smaller sensor can do. Darn. But now I know.

Evening(ton) Crescent

Last night’s most slender of crescent moons 🌙

On Sunday night I scanned the western horizon to see if I could make out the tiniest sliver of a crescent moon with no luck. Last night I thought I’d stand more chance (given that it was now 4.5 % illuminated), but was still unable to spot it for some time after sunset – until about 25 minutes later and suddenly there it was: a slim crescent low in the sky. Knowing how unpredictable our 55-200 mm lens has become, I opted for resting it on the balcony, propped up on a small wedge (rather than wobbling in the wind on a tripod), and using the 10-second timer. Before I took my moon shot (ha ha), I made sure to focus on something distant as the camera was having trouble focusing on the faint moon (I used the radio towers on the summit of Mt Gardner), and turned off the autofocus and image stabilization.

I took 4 or 5 photos with that arrangement and picked the one that suffered least from atmospheric effects too (a problem when the moon is so low in the sky; barely 7 degrees above the horizon). The wind had blown around the foreground trees to a distracting blur, so I cropped them out of the final picture. Then all I needed were a few adjustments to the exposure, contrast, and vibrance and I had my photo. I really like the gradient from blue to yellow across the image.

I don’t think it’s the thinnest crescent I’ve captured, but it might be one of the faintest. I like that subtlety.

Postscript: I feel I should explain the odd title of today’s post. The BBC radio show I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue has a “game” called Mornington Crescent, where the aim of the game is to be the first person to say “Mornington Crescent”. (Read more on Wikipedia to learn how this can even make sense!) Since the photo is of a crescent moon taken in the evening, I couldn’t resist the play on the name of the game, although it would actually make more sense if the photo were taken in the early morning. Maybe I’ll save that for another day?

Mountain double act

Gratuitous mountain view for Mountain Monday – Brunswick and Harvey, a superb double act of Howe Sound summits. Which do you prefer?

Brunswick and Harvey, often mentioned together in conversations about the peaks of the Howe Sound Crest Trail (a backpacking trip I’ve yet to tackle), and two of several tough hikes that begin in Lions Bay. From what I’ve read, Brunswick – being the higher, slightly tougher, and more technical – seems to have the majority mindshare among hikers. I don’t disagree that it’s an impressive peak, and the summit is a fantastic area, but personally I prefer Mt Harvey because the approach is more pleasant (or less unpleasant depending on your point of view!), and I really liked the closer view of the Lions.

Both hikes are hard, involving over 1450 m of elevation gain at an average gradient exceeding 20%. Brunswick has the additional excitement of some scrambling and tricky terrain to negotiate (with some exposure too), whereas Harvey has only a few places near the top where hands are helpful. But for me, the hike up to Brunswick is just awful: over 2 hours of logging road followed by a direct line up the mountain through scrappy second-growth forest. Only once the trail hits the Howe Sound Crest Trail does it become interesting and fun. By comparison, the hike up to Harvey passes through more pleasant forest (even though a lot is second-growth), and winds its way up the steep slope in a more manageable fashion.

Maybe it’s only because I only recently saw the view from Mt Harvey for the first time, but, at least for now, I’ll take the less exciting summit with the more interesting approach!

And that was my 400th post on Instagram. It’s only taken me two years 🙂

Aflame

The only fire I wanted to see at the weekend – backlit paintbrush in the afternoon.

There’s a campfire ban in BC at the moment, which is fine with me as I don’t really care much for them. It’s much nicer to camp without all the smoke and haze to be honest. I couldn’t help but think of fire when I saw these paintbrush lit by the later afternoon sunshine; fire from the sun, and fire-red paintbrush. What you can’t tell from this photo is how many mosquitoes and black flies I was having to keep at bay while lying face down, shielding the lens from the glare of the sun and trying to keep the camera steady…