A medley of moptops for wildflower Wednesday, definitely one of the most distinctive alpine flowers – I just love the way they catch the light. They only flower for a brief time as soon as the snow melts, leaving their fluffy seed heads to decorate the meadows for the rest of the short alpine growing season.
Moptop, tow-headed baby, hippy on a stick, muppets of the mountains… The seed-heads of the western anemone have multiple nicknames. Many people liken them to characters from Dr Seuss books; to me they’re just moptops. I didn’t have much exposure to the Dr Seuss characters when I was a kid but what little I had I didn’t think much of; I have a vague recollection of thinking that it was kinda silly and unrealistic, even at a young age. So, forgive me if I shrug or even grit my teeth if one more person exclaims about how Dr Seuss-like they are!
It’s remarkable to see how tall they grow and how they dominate some meadows when they start off so small. But the best thing about them is the way they catch the light, be it afternoon, evening, or morning. And I can’t stop taking their picture when that happens!
A line of lenticular-like clouds forms over the summit of Third Brother, a sign of high winds and a likely change in the weather. Later that night it poured with rain, heavy enough on the tent to wake me up, and in the morning turned to snow for a couple of hours. After that the clouds drifted away and the sun came out again. All the weather you could wish for! One of the joys of backpacking and something you always need to be prepared for 🙂
I love clouds in all their forms. Lenticular clouds are less common, but not exactly rare in mountainous areas; we’ve seen them before in the notoriously-windy Coquihalla area before, which lies only 50 km or so north of our camping spot, and several had formed just east of that same area earlier today. What I hadn’t seen before was a line, especially such a clearly wave-like line, of lenticular clouds. I hoped they would persist until sunset; seeing those clouds lit up by golden evening light would have made a spectacular photo. Alas, they drifted off, and the sunset was mostly cloudy anyway with just a few brief patches of colour.
It was sometime after about 2 am that the rain started; the moon rose around midnight and lit up the tent for a while before the rain clouds rolled in. I tried not to think about the physiological effect that falling water would have on me in the middle of the night. Thankfully I lasted until the morning, and we had enough of a gap in the weather to convince us to get moving. At which point it snowed.
If you don’t like wildflowers, keep scrolling! It’s wildflower Wednesday and the alpine flowers are beginning to bloom. Glacier lilies, spring beauty, western anemone, paintbrush, sulphur buckwheat, Sitka valerian, Columbia lilies, and white bog orchids can all be found in Manning Park right now along with many others I neglected to photograph!
I maxed out my allocation for this multi-photo post – I would have included more if Instagram allowed….
- A glacier lily backlit by afternoon sunshine – the perfect glacier lily photo! This photo was taken on our descent from Frosty Mountain and we arrived at this pocket meadow in the forest at just the right time for the sun to find a gap in the trees and light up the flowers. Beautiful!
- Of course, one is never enough but I like this one because it shows the under-appreciated (and hard to photograph) spring beauty, a gorgeous diminutive little flower that blooms alongside the glacier lily and anemone.
- Spring beauty in full bloom – see how pretty it is? It’s well named! We first encountered spring beauty when we lived in Maryland, though it was common in low-lying woodland rather than in the alpine (of which there wasn’t any really!).
- The glacier lilies may be my favourite, but the stars of the show up at Blackwall Peak were the western anemones which were blooming everywhere, and often right along the edge of the trail. That made getting photos very convenient!
- I couldn’t decide whether I liked the shot from the side or from above, so I posted both.
- I can never resist a photo of paintbrush either, especially when it’s still in bud like this. I’m pleasantly surprised by how much detail my phone camera captured, down to all the fine hairs on the reddening bracts.
- This was a nice surprise: sulphur buckwheat in bud. I like how the flower head is divided up into sub-flowers, each with their own collection of florets.
- Sitka valerian – the name conjures up the smell of autumn in the mountains as they have quite a pungent scent when they begin to fade. It was the shape of this one that caught my eye, and it was only later I realized I’d caught just a single flower blooming.
- This Columbia lily was blooming right next to our camp site, and taking its picture was the first thing I did when I got out of the car 🙂 We saw many at the roadside as we drove into and through Manning Park; I’d love to have stopped and taken a few photos but that’s just not a particularly safe thing to do on such a busy highway.
- Lastly, a tall white bog orchid. As with the Columbia lilies, we saw some really good displays of these by the side of Highway 3. But I was happy with this one at the edge of the marsh by the beaver pond. I love the contrast of the green and white on these flowers.
As I alluded to in the caption above, there were many flowers that I either didn’t photograph or couldn’t feature in this little collection, although a good many of those were taken with our “real” cameras which aren’t as easy to post to Instagram. This is definitely my favourite time of the year now, where I’m torn between seeking mountain summits and spending hours photographing flower meadows…
Purple penstemon near First Brother along the Heather Trail
We were running out of time on our foray up the Heather Trail so I jogged on to see if I could find any remaining patches of glacier lilies. I didn’t find any but I did find this perfect patch of purple penstemon (trying saying that five times fast!), a notoriously difficult flower to capture. Even better, I could get the shot with the ridge of the First Brother in the background, one of the highlights of hiking the Heather Trail. Alas we didn’t have time to venture up there this time.
Flower madness on the Heather Trail
Few places can match the Heather Trail for such great rewards for relatively little effort. Wildflowers galore, expansive views in all directions, and gently sloping terrain. Mix in a little bit of sunshine and it’s all kinda perfect really.
It’s wildflower Wednesday again – lupines and paintbrush on a green backdrop.
Manning Park is famous for its wildflower meadows and the first time we hiked the Heather Trail we found ourselves stopping every few minutes to photograph yet another patch of flowers. We’d just spent the night camped by Poland Lake and had already filled our eyes (and memory cards) with flowers of all colours. I was especially pleased to find some good patches of my favourite, glacier lilies in an open meadow not far from the lake. After a decade of exploring the BC backcountry, I’ve come to realize that the alpine wildflower displays are what I look forward to most of all when it comes to summer hiking.
The jagged peaks of Mt Hozameen, as seen from the Heather Trail near First Brother in Manning Park. This photo was taken on a snowshoe trip back in Mar 2013 where a group of us headed up the Fat Dog trail and continued up into the alpine to reach the Heather Trail. This was my third attempt at this trail, both previous attempts failing to get this far due to time constraints. It was worth every step.
To me, this mountain is one of the most recognizable features when hiking in Manning Park, though it’s not in the park itself, lying a few kilometres south of the Canada-US border. The closest approach is a little-used trail along a ridge that leads to one of the border monuments (Monument 74), but the view isn’t so good from there as the peaks are significantly foreshortened. I think the best view is from either Lone Goat or Snow Camp mountains on the nearby Skyline II trail.