Tenquille meadows

More meadows for floral Friday – paintbrush joins in the show on slopes below Tenquille Mountain.

Another photo from last weekend’s trip to Tenquille Lake, attempting to capture the beautiful meadows we walked through as we headed up to Finch Ridge. I really like the fact that parts of the mountain are visible above the flowers, lending a sense of drama and a sense of vertical scale, and providing contrast between the green meadows and the stark rock. Of course, this was composed through the camera viewfinder with its 3:2 aspect ratio; Instagram’s more limited vertical extent has cut out some interesting clouds at the top and more flowers at the bottom, but it just about works for me. The zig-zag paths of the lines in the flowers and the creek bed help. I actually preferred an alternative photo, but it lost too much from being restricted vertically. But this one is still pretty nice for a second choice.

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…

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.

In search of glacier lilies

This is why I like glacier lilies so much – when they bloom, they absolutely cover the meadow. I wrote about this in my first piece published on The Outbound – yay!

I’ve had an article at the back of my mind for some years now that explains a bit of my obsession with glacier lilies. I hadn’t found a way to write it before now, until The Outbound Collective advertised a new story-telling feature that prompted me to sign up for an account. After that, I just started writing and before long I had emptied my head of some of the things I’ve been wanting to say about glacier lilies. A bit of editing here and there, and one click on “Publish” later, and it was done.

So here it is, In Search of Glacier Lilies.

Lupines and Paintbrush

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.

A (not-so) great campsite?

A great-looking camping spot isn’t necessarily a good camping spot. This site was a good lesson in what happens when you violate principle 2… We pitched our tent far too close to the creek, the ground was damp, and cold moist air made for a chilly night plus a wet tent the next morning. This site was adequate for two for one night, but would have been trashed by a longer stay or a larger group. We should have picked a more durable surface at least 60 m away from the creek. Next time we’ll camp higher up in the meadows.

Brandywine is one of those areas that’s being loved to death – the meadows are wet for much of the summer and too many people seek a drier route which just creates a maze of muddy paths. Hopefully the new trail will bed in nicely and the mud pits can begin to heal. And don’t camp here 🙂

A great-looking camping spot isn't necessarily a good camping spot. Following @happiestoutdoors in this week's #LeaveNoTraceTuesday, this site was a good lesson in what happens when you violate principle 2… We put our tent far too close to the creek, the ground was damp, and cold moist air made for a chilly night plus a wet tent the next morning. This site was adequate for two for one night, but would have been trashed by a longer stay or a larger group. We should have picked a more durable surface at least 60 m away from the creek. Next time we'll camp higher up in the meadows. Brandywine is one of those areas that's being loved to death – the meadows are wet for much of the summer and too many people seek a drier route which just creates a maze of muddy paths. Hopefully the new trail will bed in nicely and the mud pits can begin to heal. And don't camp here 🙂 #BrandywineMeadows #hiking #backpacking #explorebc #explorecanada #mecnation #mec #bigagnes #blacktusk #alpine #meadows #wilderness #camping #leavenotrace #lnt

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

One of the people I follow on Instagram is a certified Leave No Trace (LNT) instructor, and a few weeks back she started a new hashtag to raise awareness of the principles. Each “LeaveNoTraceTuesday” is aimed at highlighting one or more of the ideas behind LNT. This week was about principle number two, travelling and camping on durable surfaces.

Having spent a few years exploring the BC backcountry, I feel very strongly about LNT and wish more people were aware of it and followed its principles. Personally I derive a great deal of satisfaction from being able to look back at a place I’ve visited or camped, and see no evidence that I was there. I’ve also read some crazily intense disagreements about how prescriptive LNT is (or appears to be), but in my view these were caused exclusively by the objectors over-interpreting (even being insulted by) the principles.

To my thinking, the main point behind LNT is that the alpine backcountry is fragile and simply cannot deal with hundreds (or thousands) of humans tramping all over it – the growing season is simply too short for plants to recover. (Actually the same is true even at sea-level – look at any field after a festival.) If you’re in an area where almost no one visits, then you can get away with disregarding one or more of the principles. The problem is that if everyone did that, the alpine would be destroyed. And then the broken-window theory kicks in – if people come to an area that doesn’t look cared-for then they too will not be inspired to care for it.

So in the end my advice is to learn about LNT, seek to understand the thinking behind the concepts. At the end of the day it boils down to a simple message: just do your best to affect an area as little as possible.