Elk Flowers

I can tell which are my favourite wildflowers by the number of photos I take! And they all seem to be lilies: chocolate lilies, Queen’s Cup (aka bead lilies), and glacier lilies with a guest appearance from a budding Columbia lily. Great to see these early flowers; the rest should be following on strong in a couple of weeks.

Not much I need to say here, so I’ll just say what each photo shows:

  1. Chocolate lilies – we saw about as many as I’ve ever seen in one place on today’s hike, though quite a few were past their peak
  2. Chocolate lily flower close-up
  3. Queen’s Cup – a nice trio of leaves on this one
  4. A pair of Queen’s Cup flowers nestled together
  5. Glacier lilies!!!!!!
  6. I could take pictures of these all day; alas I had barely 2 minutes to grab what I could before we had to turn back
  7. Columbia lily in (double) bud – we saw many of these, all still in bud; in a week or two the meadows will be full of them, nodding in the breeze

It’s kinda funny looking at my Instagram feed at the moment. It doesn’t seem that long since I was lamenting the lack of colour in my feed; now it seems like it’s nothing by flowers! 🙂

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Forest flowers

Think forest hikes have nothing to see? I beg to differ, at least at this time of year! Here’s a selection of flowers seen along the trail to Norvan Falls from a couple of weeks ago: columbine, clasping twistedstalk, bunchberry, wild ginger, false lily-of-the-valley, and the bloom of the tulip poplar (which isn’t native to BC but it’s still one of my favourite trees).

Last Wednesday’s post was about Norvan Falls itself. This week, it’s about the many flowers we saw along the way – a surprising number to be honest.

  1. Plenty of western (red) columbine, also known as the rainflower – seeing so many of these was the first surprise of the hike.
  2. Clasping twistedstalk – the second surprise was finding so many of these flowers, well-hidden below their leaves. I hadn’t really looked closely at them before so it was lovely to discover the delicate little bells and to see the kinked stalk that gives the flower its name.
  3. Bunchberry – so we’ve seen plenty of this by now, but I can’t resist continuing my search for the perfect bunchberry flower to photograph!
  4. Wild ginger – this was the third surprise, finding wild ginger which I’d never seen along this trail before.
  5. False lily of the valley – lots of these in bloom, the hard part was knowing which patch to photograph. I decided on this one with a kilometre marker post as a background. We saw another photographer sizing up a big patch on our way back – I was almost tempted to wait and get the same patch as they were nicely lit, but maybe I’ll save that for another day.
  6. Tulip poplar – OK so this wasn’t seen on the hike but near the community centre a few blocks from our apartment. We fell in love with tulip poplars when we lived in Maryland. Our first autumn there we drove out to Shenandoah National Park to see the colourful foliage and were struck by the tunnels of bright yellow created by these trees. And then the following spring we saw the first of their tulip-like flowers and we were hooked. It’s a nice reminder of our time on the east coast.

Unexpectedly sunny

Yesterday’s wander around Lighthouse Park was unexpectedly sunny and cheery. It’s always nice to be reminded of just how big the trees are, and to enjoy the views from the rocks. No marine life sightings but plenty of bird life including the eagle in the third photo. Find of the day was some harvest brodiaea blooming in the dry grass at Point Atkinson. A couple of hours well spent!

  1. It took me many visits to discover this angle on the lighthouse, but now it’s one of my favourite things to do in the park. And it’s not just the lighthouse; the rocks in the foreground have great colour and shape, even looking like miniature fjords, as if we’re viewing a 3-d relief model. I suppose I have Instagram to thank for encouraging me to seek out this view as I kept seeing others’ photos in my scrolling adventures. Now I just have to spend an evening at this spot to catch the warm light of golden hour.
  2. That tree! For years I assumed this beautifully-shaped tree was a pine – after all, the Latin name for the lodgepole (aka shore) pine is Pinus contorta – but a few visits ago I looked a little closer (which is tricky on account of it being on the edge of a cliff) and found that it was a stubborn little western hemlock. I’ve taken many photos of it over our numerous visits to the park but rarely have I been happy with the result. I’m happy to say that has changed with today’s photo, and I really like this one.
  3. Eagle in a tree, perched at the very top. It was a real treat to get a clear view of it, and a good test of the replacement 55-200 mm lens for our SLRs. What a relief to get well-focused photos again! In a way having a non-functioning telephoto lens for a few months was a useful experiment as it taught me that I do in fact enjoy having access to that extra reach. Even with this lens, though, I still had to crop the photo significantly to create this image.
  4. I was recently reminded of the fact that we’d seen this flower on one of our first ever visits to Lighthouse Park back in June 2005. On that day, the camera totally failed to focus on the flowers; I must have held the camera a little too close. Having seen some photos of this flower on Instagram I was inspired to go look for it again. And yet, as we wandered the trails on the western side of the park, I’d actually forgotten what drew me to the park in the first place, and it was only when Maria pointed out these lovely purple flowers that I even remembered! I guess I was feeling relaxed… Anyway, of course I set about taking as many photos as possible, but in the end couldn’t beat the simplest view of the first flower we found.

Norvan Falls

Norvan Falls on waterfall Wednesday. Not the most spectacular waterfall or hike, but every hike has its season and for Norvan Falls, that’s pretty much now with so much fresh spring growth and a good dose of forest flowers for company. The giant logjam is new since I was last there in 2015. I couldn’t resist including the yellow stream violet seeing as it’s also wildflower Wednesday – it was the only one still blooming!

Getting good photos of Norvan Falls is tricky. There’s often not much water flowing and on a weekend it gets busy so getting a hiker-free view is rare. However, on today’s visit (well, last Saturday’s in reality) I did manage to position myself to get clear views of the falls, either with no one in front of me or mostly hidden by other features.

  1. The falls drop about 10 m into a small pool – since they’re long and thin it’s hard to get them into a square crop, but somehow I managed!
  2. Further downstream the steep sides of the gorge can be seen – it looks quite idyllic from here, and this is the best angle on the area with a few nice boulders in the foreground.
  3. Behind me in the previous photo is this enormous logjam. I’m pretty sure this did not come over the falls, but there’s a drainage/debris chute off to the left that I’ve never explored that I suspect is a more likely source of it. The fallen Douglas fir trunks make for a colourful foreground.
  4. A tiny splash of colour, a yellow stream violet, one of only a few that were still blooming. All of the others along the trail had dropped their petals already. I’m pleasantly surprised how the phone camera focused perfectly on the flower.

Phone Friday VI

It’s Friday, and this week my phone Friday is also a floral Friday with a selection of blooms seen over the past week. We have Japanese dogwood, salal, cottonwood leaf and seed pods, thimbleberry, false Solomon’s seal, western starflower, and a lovely lemon-yellow coralroot.

I picked only 8 photos this week though I could have posted many more!

  1. I’ve been fascinated by the Japanese dogwood ever since I saw the flowers sticking up a few weeks ago (and were featured in last week’s Phone Friday). Just today I noticed that one bloom had turned white and had the same red tips as last week’s bunchberry, and I felt compelled to capture it! I’m enjoying seeing the different dogwoods bloom – the Pacific dogwood is mostly done (though we saw one in bloom near Squamish last weekend) while the bunchberry (dwarf dogwood) is reaching its peak.
  2. A few steps further down the block from the Japanese dogwood, I found a nice patch of salal flowers lit up by the late afternoon sun. I like the way the flowers line a stalk and how there’s a progression in opening along that line. That, and they look so cute and fuzzy!
  3. It’s cottonwood season, and their scent is filling the air. I really love the shape of the leaves, as well as the colour when they first emerge, being tinged a yellowy-green with hints of copper. In the autumn these leaves turn a lovely yellow, especially in the mountains near Whistler, illuminating the paths of rivers, creeks, and logging roads.
  4. Not only their scent but their downy cotton seeds are also filling the air, collecting in great drifts along the edges of paths. I’ve seen the seed pods after they’ve already opened, looking like furry sticks, but this is the first time I’ve seen the pods closed up. Thinking they’d be ready to pop and release their seeds, I gently squeezed a couple. But they didn’t yield at all, and I left them to it.
  5. Thimbleberry is in full bloom at the roadside right now, all the way up the Sea to Sky highway to Squamish and beyond. This patch was at the start of our hike to Crooked Falls (shown in Wednesday’s post) and is but a tiny fraction of the extent of flowering bushes right now. In a few weeks, they’ll start turning into lovely red berries: one of the tastiest berries I’ve ever eaten was a thimbleberry, but, alas, that may have been a one-off as I’ve never been able to find any since that tasted so good. Still, they’re nice flowers.
  6. A collection of miniature starbursts, false Solomon’s seal is a common woodland flower at this time of year. It’s not my favourite, but that doesn’t mean I won’t take its picture! It has an even starrier-looking cousin called star-flowered Solomon’s seal, though that’s not so common.
  7. Speaking of stars, the trail between Shannon Falls and the Sea-to-Sky gondola has some impressive patches of starflower in bloom right now. I couldn’t decide between a close-up or a wider view to show just how many flowers there were, but in the end I felt that the close-up shot would work better for Instagram. I really like these little flowers; they’re just so delicate and it’s hard to believe they can survive attached to such tiny, slender stems.
  8. I’ve saved my favourite for last. On our way up to Sea to Summit trail last weekend I was stopped in my tracks by a small patch of pure yellow coralroot. I’ve seen some flowers that are yellow and pink, but never one that was 100 per cent yellow. It’s always difficult to get coralroot in focus (as I mentioned last year) and I always take a number of photos in the hope that at least one is sharp. This is the best of the bunch from the weekend, but it’s still not as good as it could be and isn’t that sharp when viewed at 100%. However, it fits the criteria of “good enough for Instagram!” which is why it’s included. I would love to go back and photograph it again this weekend but I suspect we’ll be off somewhere different.

That’s all for this week but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to share again next Friday 🙂

Alpine views

I think this might be the very last of these Throwback Thursday posts. Coming up with a theme for these posts has been fun, and sometimes a little challenging. Today’s link had me scratching my head for a few moments until I realized the connection: both photos were taken in one of my favourite places, the alpine.

1. TBT to a beautiful Thursday in September 2012 on the Skyline trail in Jasper, the view south over Curator Lake from the Notch

First up is this stunning view from the Notch, the highest point along the 44-km Skyline Trail. What can’t be seen is the howling gale that greeted us as we came over the rise. We were oh-so glad of the sunshine after the previous day’s miserable cold rain, and the view was as breathtaking as the wind, but the downside to the alpine is the lack of shelter, and we were certainly feeling that as we huddled down in a group to eat our lunch.

The wind was a constant companion for the next hour or so but it was worth it for the never-ending views along the ridgeline of Amber Mountain. Definitely an awesome hike, and one I would love to repeat.

2. Some colour for a grey day – my favourite flower, a glacier lily, taken a couple of years ago on the trail to Zoa Peak.

Some colour for a grey day – my favourite flower, a glacier lily, taken a couple of years ago on the trail to Zoa Peak. For #LeaveNoTraceTuesday I'll add that getting these kinds of flower photos often means going off-trail, a practice that requires a lot of care. It's also a time when even leaving footprints is not appropriate in case in invites the less careful – I've witnessed many a hiker simply not looking where they're putting their feet. On busy trails I'll simply not bother and just be content to admire the view from afar or use a long zoom lens 🙂 #zoapeak #coquihalla #alpine #wildflowers #glacierlily #erythroniumgrandiflorum #lnt #leavenotrace #beautifulbritishcolumbia #hiking #mec #mecnation #rei1440project

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The second photo is of a subject that entices me up into the alpine as soon as the snow has melted: the humble glacier lily. Every year I like to go in search of them just as they poke up through the snow, and this year will probably be no different. The trick is to find somewhere new each time, and I’ll need to start thinking about that soon as we’re already in May!

This photo was originally posted on a “Leave No Trace Tuesday”, so I’ll include the comment I made at the time. Getting these kinds of flower photos often means going off-trail, a practice that requires a lot of care. It’s also a time when even leaving footprints is not appropriate in case in invites the less careful – I’ve witnessed many a hiker simply not looking where they’re putting their feet. On busy trails I’ll simply not bother and just be content to admire the view from afar or use a long zoom lens.

I’m always wary of stepping off the trail in popular areas in case someone sees me and interprets that as a green light to wander wherever they please. What they don’t see is the extreme care I take to step through the flowers, sticking to rocks where I can and bare dirt otherwise as much as possible. If I can’t identify a way through then I just don’t go and I’ll find an alternative flower to photograph.

Phone Friday III

The camas is blooming after still only being buds earlier in the week, joined by bunchberry and its showier and blousier cousin – the warm sunshine has worked its magic.

The first four pictures are sort-of looking back in time at the camas. It’s been really nice to keep an eye on it and watch the buds to start out green before taking on a blueish tinge and then finally emerging in their full lilac/purple glory. The fourth photo was taken only a matter of a few days before the others showing just how quickly the flowers bloomed in the warmer weather! I’m not sure if these actually are the usual common camas as they’re enormous, standing a couple of feet tall; the camas I photographed last year in Victoria forced me to crouch down quite low to get the shot I was after.

Equally speedy in blooming was the bunchberry in the fifth photo. It went from leaves to flowers in barely a week, and suddenly it’s everywhere in the native plant garden. Bunchberry is yet another of my favourite springtime flowers and I was pleasantly surprised at the sweetness of the berries when I tried them last year.

Last but not least is the dogwood tree outside our building. The bracts have turned these flowers into saucer-sized blooms, and yet only just now have the tiny central florets started opening up. I’m pleased to have got these dogwood photos as I seem to miss them every year; the bracts start to go brown and die off very quickly which makes them a less appealing target for my camera. Just today I noticed how they were already looking worse for weather around the edges so I caught them at the right time.

(And yes I know it’s Monday but I forgot over the weekend and don’t have a mountain shot for today so this will have to do!)