With Barbara and Mark (all the way from the UK!) in for a week before the July long weekend, we managed 5 solid days of hiking . . . despite the rain and unsettled weather! Between rain showers on the Summer Solstice, we had a leisurely stroll along Munn Creek. We saw that the Yellow Dryas was out in full bloom, along with Lung Wort and the start of the Labrador Tea bloom. Our resident Grizzly was around – fresh scat and a few fresh digs. Munn Creek has carved new channels and many trees along the bank succumbed to the flood waters.
The next day found us climbing the Berland Ridge in fair weather. The first kilometer or so of the trail was running with water, but we were able to bushwhack around the worst of it. We found an abundance of wildflowers on the first open slope – Scorpionweed, Forget-Me-Nots, Potentilla, Indian Paintbrush, Spotted Saxifrage – and the top of the ridge was covered with Mountain Avens. Several new trees were marked or rubbed on by Grizzlies, and we found a cougar kill (or rather, the dogs found it) on the way back down.
David took our guests up the Munn Creek Trail the next day – hiking in rubber boots most of the way! Much of the Side Hill and Munn Creek Trail were under water and previously dry creek beds were NOT! We also hiked the Scenic Route to the Viewpoint the following day, dodging rain showers . . .
With the promise of fair weather, we tackled the Alpine Meadow on Tuesday. The Avalanche Chute was filled with Early Blue Violets, Meadow Rue and Forget-Me-Nots, and the Moss Campion was just starting to bloom on the rock ledge scramble to the top. There was fresh Marmot scat (I think) in the cave on the spine, but no fresh evidence of cougar or lynx. Gorgeous view as always at the top, even though Mt. Robson was still obscured by clouds.
A gentle hike to round out their stay at the ‘Escape, Barbara and Mark joined me on a visit to the Osprey nest. The Richardson’s Ground Squirrels were cavorting about in the meadow, but we saw no Osprey that day. Slipping through the ‘elk meadows’ on our way to the start of the Wild Hay River, we did indeed run into some elk! Sometimes, we just get lucky . . . We were able to sit quietly under some trees and watch the rather large herd (maybe 30 females?) grazing. The cows knew we were there, and a few females stood in front as sentinels – ‘barking’ every time they heard the click of my pitiful phone camera!
I spotted just a couple of calves, but they didn’t venture out into the open. Then, with a few loud, sharp barks by the lead cow (I am assuming), elk heads came up and one-by-one they slipped rapidly back into the bush. Something spooked them . . . and it wasn’t us! I’m thinking ‘Predator’. Mark is thinking “BEAR”. A few 360 degree turns on our way back to the car, but we could see nothing. Once back on the Rock Lake Road, we discovered the ‘spooker’ – young Mitchell, interning for SRD doing a creel survey at Rock Lake this summer, had driven up in his vehicle. We had a nice chat and learned that he was the one trying to repair the Rock Lake Road . . . BY HAND!
Until next time . . . Happy Trails!