Wildflowers galore!

Wildflowers galore on the way up to Mt Outram. Best viewed from the trail, of course.

As we plodded our way up the steep trail to Mt Outram, we met a hiker on her descent who exclaimed that the flower display awaiting us was possibly the best she’d ever seen. When we broke out of the trees onto the open slopes, we could barely believe our eyes. The meadows were absolutely filled with all manner of flowers; the blues, reds, and yellows of lupine, paintbrush, and arnica making for a truly eye-catching view. I think every colour of the rainbow was well represented.

It’s always a little difficult to capture such rich displays. Either the flowers end up looking like little dots, and there’s nothing to draw you into the photo, or a small number of flowers becomes the focus, and some of the grandeur and extent of the meadows is lost. But this one seems to strike the right balance, especially with the distant mountains lending a bit of depth and providing a level horizon to emphasize the steep slope.

Misty mountain top

Not much of a view atop Mt Outram yesterday, but the flowers were beyond spectacular. Check out the lovely purple silky phacelia (sky pilot) which was in full bloom throughout this alpine area.

Oh wow. This weekend’s trip up to Mt Outram was nothing short of spectacular. Beautiful forest, superb views, and some of the most extensive and abundant flower meadows I’ve ever seen. Sure, the hike up was every bit as tough as the stats suggest (especially with an overnight pack) but it was worth every step.

Our glorious sunny Saturday gave way to a cloudy and sometime snowy Sunday. We didn’t really have time to make the summit on Saturday, and we believed the weather forecast that predicted sunshine for Sunday. Well it didn’t quite turn out that way, as it rained in the night, and we woke to low cloud shrouding the summits. Not that we cared. We’d come this far, so why not head up to the summit anyway? And we’re glad we did – it was eery and atmospheric up there in the mist. And so what if we missed the panoramic views? We found other things to enjoy, such as all the flowers, and the sheer delight in being up in the mountains.

Definitely a hike to repeat.

(I should point out that the obvious, pale purple flower in the foreground is not silky phacelia – that is the darker purple flower behind – but the well-named skunky Jacob’s ladder, confusingly also known as sky pilot. I thought I caught a hint of something skunky as I was crawling around getting flower photos at the summit!)

A week of glacier lilies

A departure from the usual posting style. Since I saw so many glacier lilies at the weekend, I figured it would be best to combine all those photographs into a single, all-encompassing glacier lily entry. Let the floral overload begin!

We spent the weekend in Manning Park, and found – to my delight – that the glacier lilies were out in force. Here’s one of many in bud we saw last Sunday near Blackwall Peak, beautifully decorated with raindrops. I was surprised to see them blooming even by the roadside on the way up to Blackwall Peak, and we were further surprised by two yearling bear cubs darting across the road ahead of us!

View this post on Instagram

It's that time of year again! The glacier lilies are out in force in Manning Park and should be good for another couple of weeks. Here's one of many in bud we saw yesterday near Blackwall Peak, beautifully decorated with raindrops (as was our tent!). After all the hard work we put in on Saturday to find some (which paid off handsomely I should add), I was surprised to see them blooming at the roadside on the way up to Blackwall Peak. Then we were surprised again by two yearling bear cubs darting across the road ahead of us 🐻 🐻 🙂 Hike reports are on LiveTrails. What a weekend! #glacierlily #erythroniumgrandiflorum #ManningPark #manningparkresort #ecmanningprovincialpark #bcparks #paintbrushnaturetrail #explorebc #wildflowers #beautifulbc #beautifulbritishcolumbia #ifttt #hikebc #bchiking

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

On Saturday we hiked the Skyline I loop, a 21-km hike with 900+ m of elevation gain. We’d been happily enjoying the wealth of blooms along the trail, but then we entered the last big meadow before turning back towards the car. This might be the most spectacular glacier lily meadow I’ve seen so far! Wow!

A trail runs through it – the path through the vast meadow in the previous photo is barely a boot wide, the glacier lilies and spring beauty doing their best to recolonize it. I looked back at photos I took of this section of the trail in August 2007 and there is no sign of glacier lilies anywhere.

And yet more glacier lilies along the Skyline I trail. There was still a bit of snow in places along the ridge but it’ll soon be gone. I find it amazing how so many can grow and yet all signs of their existence disappear once the main summer bloom gets underway. I’m convinced that most hikers never even see a glacier lily over the summer.

Finally, it’s Flashback-Friday, and I thought I’d finish this week of glacier lily photos with the flower that started it all – my very first glacier lily photo from way back in 2006!

That last shot has a lot to answer for…

Fat Dog

Throwback Thursday shot to 10(!) years ago today, and my first venture up the Fat Dog trail in Manning Park with its great views of Mt Hozameen. Took me 3 attempts to make it all the way up to the Heather Trail.

Having completed my Once Around the Sun contribution to Throwback Thursday, I had to come up with an alternative source of historical inspiration. Looking back over the years, I decided that dredging up the past from a decade ago would be a reasonable thing to do. And so my first offering for that is a photo taken from the Fat Dog Trail in Manning Park, a winter-only trail that winds its way up old logging roads to the alpine and then along a ridge to join the famously-flowery Heather Trail. Coincidentally, this view was also the subject of the first Instagram post I wrote about on this blog.

Funnily enough, this particular photo isn’t in our set on Flickr for this trip, and there are a few there that I would happily delete (which shows how my photographic tastes have changed over the years – hopefully for the better). But I really like this shot: Mt Hozameen framed by the trees, and a lovely S-shaped swoosh mark left by a skier leading the viewer into the frame. I’d like the framing to be a little tighter, but it was only a 4-megapixel camera so I don’t have much room for manoeuvre there.

And this also marks my 350th (!) photo on Instagram 🙂

The Larch

I didn’t get to see the larches this year, so here’s a throwback Thursday shot from the most perfect day out back in 2011 where we had deep blue skies, golden larches and a dusting of snow.

We’ve been out to Manning Park to see the golden larches a couple of times now, but we haven’t been back since this visit mostly because it was such a perfect day that we’re spoiled and will only go back again on a day that’s at least as good! Or one on which we actually make it to the summit of Frosty Mountain. However, what I’d really love to do is visit the Rockies (or Cathedral Lakes) in larch season. Backpacking around Sunshine Meadows, Mt Assiniboine, or along the Rockwall would be fantastic if the weather was right.

Back to this day, and I’ve looked back through our photos a couple of times and this one still stands out as one of my favourites. The sun was at the right angle (ha ha – get it?) to maximize the deep blue sky with the polarizer and intensify the yellow, and the neighbouring trees of different sizes made for a great comparison. Given how long they live and how slowly they grow, I wonder how old these trees are?

Purple penstemon

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

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.