Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Great gifts

Yesterday it was my birthday(48).
I left at 7 am to go into the mountain range of Stony Creek. Same way; bike to gravel pit, hike up 'nipple mountain'. Last week I worked on the trail a little bit, it made a difference. It's only marked for 1km. From there I would like the make a more direct line to 'pretty pond', but today I follow the old route as it is easy to find, it goes over rock slabs in the forest, and it is familiar. Although I have to go through thick forest to get from the rocks, through a depression over another ridge to get to the pond. Pretty pond has more grass again, only two circles of water. From 'pretty pond' to the foot of the mountain went easy today, I should mark it soon. Also the climb up the mountain went well. Instead of getting stuck in the Alders, I found rock slides to climb up. On the bottom of one I found a den , marked by lots of droppings, possibly Porcupine. The Spruce trees here are gigantic. I found a standing dead one, 1 meter diameter. The life ones, the trunks are hard to see because of the branches.

At 9.15 am I reach the top! The distance traveled, roughly 5 km, elevation gain 1500 feet (the maps still measure elevation in feet). From here the next 1.5 km up and down, staying at 4000/4200 feet. Around here that is around the tree line, which means buck brush, but here not very high. I worry a little bit about the last dip I have to go through, it is very wide and I know there to be blue berry bushes. On my way up I snacked on the occasional ripe berry. You see, I am a little apprehensive, bears like berries too. As I sit on a rock overlooking the berry valley. I sing a song, loudly (which is a nice thing to do).

Lo and behold, no bear, but a bull moose, pops up and runs away, It is running away, eventually out of sight, down over a ridge south east. I am going up and north east, and feel it safe for me to continue. Moose are territorial and can be dangerous too. As I am far away enough, it is an awesome sight to see, this dark shining animal, with a big rack (antlers).

The berries up here are not ripe yet. And around 10.15 I reach high ground,4500 feet. This is where I love it very much. Just me and the rock. The mountain is polished off by the glacier and low plants cover the mountain. Here and there an erratic, the biggest one here with a diameter of 5 meters, I practice my rock climbing skills.
The weather is beautiful! I take the time to look at all the flowers, birds, and try to spot the abundant ground squirrels(gophers), but they shriek and are gone before I get a good look.
I am aiming for the next mountain over, and taking a direct route, leaving the 'fire tower ridge' to my right. The walking on the side hill is harder, but I am very happy I did it, as I cross many creek beds and they harbor the most beautiful flowers (see last post).

At noon I reach the valley in front of the next mountain. Its a giant. It is 5800 feet high, on three sides it rises up steeply for 2000 feet. I am looking at the smallest fourth side for a climb. But as it is noon already ,it has to wait for another day. I drop down to explore the rushing, creek. It is a most wonderful place, quite open, the creek bed (gravel), approximately 30feet wide, where as the creek on average 4 feet wide, there is still snow patches. There's high rock walls, and the meandering creek with rapids, one being a waterfall 0.75 meter high. Little pools. Lovely.

I don't feel comfortable to have my lunch here and go for the ridge I had left to my right. I come close to the little .....Now what are they called? Lakes or ponds, they are the origin of the creek. The ridge is steep on this side, and I enjoy the climb up. Half way up at 1.30 pm, I have my lunch, overlooking this beautiful land.
I wasn't far from the top. And lay down in the sun, flies and bees zooming around me. I follow the ridge towards the fire tower. Like most days this summer the sky is full of clouds and I don't expect to look into the St. Elias Range. But for the second time today; Lo and behold, there is a surprise, above the mountain east of Haines Jct. I see the Kluane range and above that; one single white peak! Small though, as the distance to the great mountains is 120 km. As you see I did get a photo from the first surprise, but it happens to be that the batteries of the camera ran out. No surprise; I have to come back another day.

One more gift awaits me; An old caribou antler!(where I saw the moose).

Fritillary on Sweet Coltsfoot

Flowers encountered on the mountain, July 28 2008.

The identification of All I encounter, becomes increasingly difficult. Hilarious , might be the word. For Example an Arnica, an easily recognized yellow daisy, but Arnica is just the genus, it has many different species.
And like the Butterfly here which is a Fritillary. It might be the Frija Fritillary, which name really is Boloria frija, which to make it interesting has two varieties.
The Coltsfoot that's easier, this one definitely being the fragrant one, one of a kind;
-Petasites frigidus.
I hope its like my human friends, once you know them, you recognize them anywhere, even in disguise.
And my lists are very incomplete, what grows on one mountain, I don't always encounter on the next. For today I suffice again to only name what I had not named on previous list. I also don't always remember which one I have mention before. As in the case of
- Anemone parviflora, the Wind-flower.
Which could bloom in early spring, but yesterday I found beside a creek, which still had snow patches bridging over it.
- Artemisia norvgica ssp saxatilis, Mountain Sagewort.
Which grows on every mountain around here, dark green with a raceme of nodding yellowish heads,finally I know its full name.
- Dodocathean frigidum, Shooting star.
A specially beautiful flower, which I am happy to have finally met.
- Dryopteris fragrans, Fragrant Fern.
Oh heavenly it's smell, who would have known, to stick ones nose in a fern.
-Parnassia kotzebui, Small grass of Parnassus.
- Saxifraga flagellaris ssp setigera, Spider plant.
True to it's name, with bright yellow flowers, beautiful.
-Senecio tundricola, a Groundsel.
Another one, I have seen it's bright yellow/orange daisy like flowers on every mountain hike this summer, I am happy to know the name.
And two more delightful things to mention,
- the Oxytropis nigrescens,
which was abundantly blooming last time I went on this mountain (June 21) This tiny little grayish plant, with in comparison, big, shiny brown pea-pod. (Only a few had come to seed.)
- Epilobium , Fireweed,
Big and glorieus, magenta blossoms along my driveway,
there's tiny ones high up there!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Moss Campion and Frigid Arnica

going down, looking up

July 23, Shaneinbaw.
From the highway we biked up for one and a half hour, on a firm, but sandy trail. Turning muddy, which harbors the Valerian ( A favorite of mine), which landed us in a city park like valley, an undergrowth of Willow brush etc. with increasingly beautiful big Spruce trees, spread out, so each individual tree rises to its greatest potential.

We figure out a line to follow, and hike across the wetland, first Jane fills up her water bottle in a pond, but a little up she finds beautiful clear water, maybe a spring, which gives us a delicious draft. We are hiking towards sand dunes on the foot of the mountain. From the bikes it takes us 2 hours to come out above the treeline. I am thinking that seems to be the usual thing around here. The Valleys where we live are at just below 2500 feet and the treeline above 3500 feet. The toughest 1000 feet of elevation gain for me. I work out a pattern of climbing and resting which works for me, I stop at regular intervals, and very much enjoy the increasingly beautiful views, and the increasingly beautiful wild flowers. Adding to the list I made a few days ago.
Aria! I saw a field of Lupines like on your photo from Iceland. Gorgeous.
I said tough, but actually we are very lucky and follow moose trails most of the way.
Once I am beyond the steep climb above the treeline I gallop. Jane is ahead of me and sees a line of sheep on the mountain over, but still part of the Shaneinbaw Range ( which is not named on any map. The lake below is Shaneinbaw lake. The highest peak from this group is called Shaneinbaw mountain, so does that make this Shaneinbaw Range?)

Now we are up here we decide if we go on to that highest peak or follow the ridge above the lake. The snow helps us make the right decision, we don't quite know it yet , but we are in for a most amazing hike. About the snow, yes fresh snow, first I see little clusters of snow crystals behind every poll of grass. Dressed for the weather I am happy that it is not snowing now, or worse raining. Although when I am out here I enjoy it all.

I will maybe add a picture of flowers, which are totally amazing again today. But distinctly different. Today not many pink plumes of Bistort, but more of the Alpine Meadow Bistort(Polygonum viviparum). The most glorious on the uphill are the Blue For-get-me-nots. Up but especially later on down, there are many flowers from the pea family, which I have to identify another day. The Hedisarum alpinum, which is the Eskimo patato is the very same that grows at lower elevations.

Anyway This ridge is my dream come true. It is a mountain cut in half, by who knows what kind of event. We are walking on very top of the ridge, one side gently sloped (imagine gentle with wind and snow) But the side I am googling over, vertically down. On top of this ridge we are following a sheep trail 10 inches wide and often 10 inches deep. We follow their trail on to a rock outcrop down the vertical slope. You gotta see it. Its too much for words (one day I'll try). Back on the ridge we have a break just north of the top, the wind is coming from the south.
I definitely don't want to walk back into that wind and we decide to find a way down towards the lake, which again, was the best decision ever. On the map it looks like we might have to go all the way to the north end of the lake. But as it turns out we see from the top a beautifully green and white plateau a little lower.(you cannot see this from below) The green being grass and flowers, the white; Rock, crystal clear white rock as it turns out.

At this very moment as I am typing I am tantalized by the feeling that I just want to be there , right now.

Jane chooses a line down, starting by the most ,white outcrop, which is distinct from below. I would have thought it too dangerous , but as it turns out it is most spectacular and climbing down carefully I am not scared at any point as the rock provides solid steps.
We come out on a 'dune' which leads us straight to the lake. Where we watch the ducklings, have a fire and make soup and tea. Again we come upon a game trail which eventually crosses the meandering, sandy. small creek and brings us by the trail, which will bring us to our bikes.

Our legs are tired and it is totally invigorating to step on the bike. The trail has a perfect slop. Who ever made the trail (thank you) It is perfect. on a certain stretch it follows a ridge that is steep on both sides. As I get sand in my eyes, I have to take out my contact lenses and put on my glasses. I have fallen behind now, which gives me the opportunity to fly down to catch up. I love it!

footnote: one more flower, Androsace chamaejasme, Rock Jasmine.
Next time I encounter it I will hopefully recognize it and put my nose to it, it is fragrant!

good morning sunshine!

The Swallows (Tree or Violet-green) are having a second set of young in the nest box under the eaves.
The Peewees are doing very well.
The roses are still spreading their scent.
Life is good.
In the morning sun out front, we will have pancakes with freshly picked wild, raspberries and gooseberries.

I picked the raspberries actually Thursday morning on my way into town. Yesterday evening I saw a Black Bear coming out of the patch. Thursday I also stopped at the Takhini Salt Flats; to check the Gentian . I think it indeed is a Gentianopsis detonsa ssp yukonensis.The Salt Flats where beautiful, so peaceful , no wind and lots of families of water birds. Two of them being Surf Scooters, exciting.

In the evening I went to the Farmers market in Whitehorse and tasted; spruce tip and soap berry jelly, very delightful. Made by a family on Fox lake. I'll find out their name.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Wednesday July 23
1 day bike /hike with Jane Vincent.
Another 10 hour day and again not long enough.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Carex podocarpa?

No this is not a Phippsia. But if anybody out there knows what it is, please let me know. (It grows on the alpine.)
I call myself Keeper of Wild places. My son gave me that idea for a name many many years ago.
As I was pulling out the grass in my flower garden. He, 5 years old said; "stop mom, I am the Keeper of Grass." Since then I only have a lawn. No! But I do owe him to interest myself in grasses, well this is my start.

I got in touch with Jennifer from Yukon gov. and she suggests it is a Carex podocarpa. A sedge. And as for my grass education, she told me grasses are hollow. And I already knew;
Sedges have edges and Rushes are round.
Thanks Jennifer!

Monday, July 21, 2008


Yesterday Don and I went for a walk along Marshal Creek. Approximately uhm..7 years ago there was a big fire there. In the years after we have picked morels there. Today we wanted to see, what it looks like. From the highway we turn right past a gravel pit, we end up right on the high bank of marshal Creek. It is still very much a burn area. Blackened, burned trees still standing up. And lots of Fireweed. It is a beautiful sight, the view to the creek and the surrounding mountains still open. The Creek is maybe 20 feet wide, and rushes over boulders. The ground is covered with a moss. The poplars are growing back, close to water the white, Grass of Parnasus is blooming. Where there is no Fireweed, there's a gorgeous blue and yellow ground cover from Goldenrod and Four-parted Gentian. Don has always been my teacher, and today by the high bank of the creek he recognizes the sound of the Kingfisher, too bad we don't get to see this beautiful bird.
Back on the highway a Black Bear, waves at us, no kidding, it was standing up and I tell you, it held up a paw, before it ran off.

Today I walk around 'moose skull lake'. The wind is blowing and the sun is shining! Most flowers are in seed, but it is still beautiful. I come upon a family of grouse, but scare them away. A family of ducks doesn't hang around for me either. Ahh but 4 ducklings get left behind, and just stay. I get to watch them, still downy, dive for their food. As I try to get closer, they hide in the shore. I carry on and close to home I find meadow mushrooms, I know they are not amanitas, but am not sure if they are meadows. I just fried up some, so if I don't continue this blog, you know what happened.

baby peewee / alpine flowers at Kusawa

the baby bird is being fed while I make this list of flowers we encountered on yesterdays hike.
Ahh.. and it just disappeared(the list). I will have to redo it.

And here it is!

Aconitum delphinifolium ssp paradoxum - Monkshood
Campanula lasiocarpa - Harebell
Aconitum delphinifolium ssp paradoxum
Antennaria monochephala - Cat's Paw
Campanula lasiocarpa - Mountain Harebell
Cassiopes - Heathers
Castilleja hyperborea - Paintbrush
Claytonia sarmentosa - Spring Beauty
Dyras octopetale - Mountain Avens
Gentiana glauca - Glacous Gentian
Ledum decumbens - a Labrador Tea
Loisleuria procumbens - Alpine Azalia
Minuartia arctica - Arctic Sandwort
Myosotis alpestris ssp asiatica - Alpine Forget-me-not
Oxyria digyna - Mountain Sorrel
Oxytopis nigrescens - Blackish Oxytrope
Pedicularis capitata - Capitate Lousewort
Polemonium auctiflorum - Tall Jacob's-ladder
Polemonium boreale - Jacob's-ladder
Polygonum bistorta ssp plumosum - Bistort
Rubus arcticus - Nagoonberry
Saussurea angustifolis ssp yukonensii
SaxifragesSilene acaulis - Moss Campion
Taraxum decumbens - Dandelion
Veronica wormskjoldii - Alpine veronica

and more!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Collared Pika

in the very centre!

July 19 2008
1 day hike with Mary Whitley.

The weather prediction was not that good, but to me it looked OK, there being one sunny patch on the mountain we wanted to go up. We decided to go for it. Around 9.33 am we arrived by car at the beginning of a trail. Mary had found the trail by accident one day. It took us up a little right away, on the bank of a creek bed. Going west towards the mountain. Soon it turned north, we followed it for over an hour. Being a nice trail through the woods, a smaller creek along side and sometimes the creek would use the trail we were on. Soon enough we were getting views of the Takhini river,Vanier mountain, Kusawa lake and the unnamed lake in between.

The trail keeps going north, but eventually we want to end up on the mountain west. We turn off a single track too soon. Ending up in very difficult terrain. we are trashing through buck brush often higher then ourselves. Often no footing underneath. Once in a while a little opening in the brush gives us a breather. These openings are little meadows part of the watershed, little waterflows, around a big spruce tree, and small rock faces, that, the higher we go, turn rocky slopes, that eventually turn into the open mountain slopes. It is here that we hear the pikas and following Mary's suggestion, we hang around for a while, the pika too sits on a rock long enough for a photograph.

Both of us love looking at and naming the flowers. They first don't seem to be so abundant. I will make a list, and you will see they were plentiful. Very plentiful. Mary thought me many new names. Did she tell me name of this tiny, abundant cute one, that looks like a pincushion? It might be a kind of Pussy-toes (Antenaria) or is it a fleabane(Erigeron) without rays? (It's the Cat's Paw!)
The most beautiful one today, which I had never heard of or seen; one blooming, Saussurea angustofolium ssp yukonensii.
For most equisite color: Glaucus Gentian!
Most Glorieus: the Pink plumes of the Bistort.
It is a Polygonum, which relative grows in my weed garden; Knotweed. It's flowers barely visible. And then you see this Bistort on the mountain, its plumes 1cm diameter and 10cm tall in the brighest of bright pink, all over the mountain.
Most delicious; the leaves of the Mountain Sorrel.

We are in the high country, wide open slopes. The mountain is very rounded here, no steep slopes, We do go through a few gullies, some very barren and rocky, where the snow obviously has just melted.We cross one snowpatch and I think it is there that Mary spots the Golden Plover! Luckily we meet it again on the way back and get a better look and some photo's. It's a Plover(Shorebird) that builds its nest in the far north, but also here in the alpine tundra.I have to say, the sun never disappears for long. But all day of and on, we have some drizzle. Well drizzle ain't the right word for what comes to us here. It has turned very windy, and the rain cuts in your face. At no point we really get very wet. I suppose the wind blows us dry as the rain falls.
We braise ourselves in the wind and walk towards Jo-jo lake. We don't get to see the lake, as it is to deep down. We do enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains mostly in grey clouds .

On the way back The first time we see the rainbow, we are on the same level as the arch. Later we walk towards it. On our way back we some how skip the gullies. And want to come out on trail more south. Mary has been here before. We want to stay on the high bank of a creek. We go straight in the wind, which blows very fierce now, we scramble down rocks, the terrain here is fairly steep. Its that Mary knows, to me it looks if we are heading a cliff straight down. I am loving it. We surpass a very rocky outcrop, which I'd like to go to in better weather.From the bank we watch the other side of the creek, which has a stretch of sheer cliff. And once peaking down I spot a waterfall. Sometimes we have to turn into the forest, as there is no bank we can walk on. The higher forest here are miniature poplars. Its magical walking, we just fit under the canopy and easily squeeze through the many trees. We have a last rest on a friendly slope, which has been grazed short by the sheep. On this bank we actually follow game trails.

10 hours later, all too soon we reach the car.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Takhini Salt Flats

The salt flats with in the background the mountain where I was with Rina.
If you know its name, please let me know, thanks.

Mary suggests: Blood mountain or Frog mountain.
Can anybody confirm either one.
Thanks Mary

July 14, 15 ,16
As I said, so much wilderness close to and in town. Tuesday Rina, an old friend I had not seen for 12 years, and I, spend a delightful afternoon in the area around the Takhini Hotsprings, where we were neighbours for a brief period back then. We visited places were she used to roam around and were I used to roam around.

Wednesday after work, I walked the millennium trail in Whitehorse. That is the best thing ever happened to Whitehorse. Besides being a beautiful trail along the Yukon river and crossing the river close to the rapids, I think I found another Rosa Woodsii. Anybody out there, correct me if I am wrong.

Thursday I actually got a dream job; I went on a flower-hike with a group of children and their caregivers. Thanks so much for inviting me. I think we all learned lots. I was able to provide them with the names of most flowers they showed me. And they showed me more, as kids always do. They found lots of interesting growths on different plants . I found out these growths are called galls and are caused most often by insects.

On the way home I stopped at the Takhini Salt Flats and had a exhilarating hike in the wind. The Red Samphire seems to be at its most beautiful now, very bright reddish. I forgot to look if I can see if it is actually blooming now, the flowers minuscule and inconspicuous, but for me also worthy of respect.

Single Delight

Marsh Cinquefoil

Ahhh.. Thank you Luke! Luke used to live here in this neighbourhood. And according to another neighbour I came upon one of his paths today. I went to 'teapot pond', approaching it from the north. I went looking if the marsh cinquefoil is blooming and as you see it is. To see the beauty of the flower close up, I invite you to find it. Here you can see its habitat.
Live is not always a struggle. Last time going around the pond, it being very satisfying, a struggle it was. Today it's all very gentle. The weather is very soft and still, few bugs. First as I come out by the pond, a family of Buffleheads swims away. A female with 8 ducklings! ( by the way, our Peewee has babies too!!!)
There are lots of Marsh Cinquefoil. They're delightful, but not as showy as I had imagined them. There beauty more in them being special, different then any other flower I know. It already becomes apparent that I am on sort of a trail. I follow it , loose it, come upon it again. Apparently its maker, animal or human, had the same intent as I , going around the pond. I don't go all around as my bike is on the north side, and the full circle has to wait for another day. On the path are many other flowers that belong to the wetlands, all very pretty, the pyrolas and orchids. To my utmost delight, I come upon an abundance of Single Delights! They're truly true to their name.


July 17
Takhini Salt flats.
What treasure did I find here? Can somebody tell me which gentian this is?
Walking on the salt flats in the wind was wonderful, but hard to take a photo of this
sky blue fragile but apparently very strong flower whipping in the wind.
Jennifer suggests: Gentianopsis detonsa ssp yukonensis
Sounds good! Thanks again.

Berry update

July 15
Again after spending 3 days in town (Whitehorse), there were wilderness experiences.
Tuesday on the way in, I picked strawberries at Stoney Creek. They are Big! As in compared to other years. If you don't know wild strawberries, these treasures are tiny. Ah... they smell deliciously, as I am now measuring them, average 1cm diameter. I was saying before I wonder if they even have fruit in the real wild, well this year they do, I found 3 yet tinier ones. No big harvest. I drove in 37 mile road and walked a ways. The landscape here is very open. Around 50 years ago this area was heavily burned (Takhini burn). All the soil was burned apparently and it is still visible in the landscape, that there was a big fire here.
I also check out the raspberries, and they're ripening. A few more days of sun and serious picking will start.The first wild Goose berries in my yard, are ripe too, like the strawberries they're bigger then ever. They are even more tedious to pick. One at the time ripens. Later on ripe ones fall off. And the bush is most prickly.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

blooming in July

Mastodon Flower. Senecio congestus

Achillea borealis -Northern Yarrow.


Arenarias -Sandworts.

Artemesias - Wormwoods.

Aster sibericus -Siberian Aster.

Cerastriums -Chickweeds.

Corydalis aurea -Golden Corydalis

Crepis tectorum -Hawk's Beard.


Epilobium angustifolium -Fireweed

Erysmum cheiranthoides - Wall Flower.

Gentiana amarella -northern gentian.

Gentiana propinqua - Four-parted gentian(almost blooming).

Hedysarum alpinum -Eskimo Patato.

Hedysarum mackenzii -Wild Sweet Pea.

Lappula myosotis -Blue Bur(Stickseed)

Linnaea borealis -Twinflower.

Linum perenne -Wild Blue Flax.

Parnassia palustris -Grass of Parnassus.

Pedicularis labradorica -Labrador Lousewort.

Plantago eriopodo -sea-side plantain.

Phaecelia franklinni -Scorpian Weed.

Zygadenus elegans - Camas Wand Lily (Death Camas)

etc. Almost everything else that I already mentioned on other lists.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Western Wood Peewee

This morning sitting on the outhouse I notice quite a bit of action way up in the Western Wood Peewee nest. One bird seem to chase the other from the nest. 3 Birds fly around chattering. One sticks around to do some aerials to catch bugs(lots of those this year). And after a while quietly sits on the nest again.
Its a beautiful day, after a great thunderstorm in the middle of the night it is sunny again. And today is very much like that; rain and shine. The whole summer up to now is like that. To me very unlikely Yukon weather. Because of all this, my flower garden is jungle of green and colors, I love it. My vegetable garden is just a jungle of green.

Yesterday I got lucky on my walk, it was actually hot. Just now we had supper outside, but I went in, as it is coming down in buckets. Anyway I didn't finish yesterdays story yet: After relaxing on a sunny knoll, I continue around the lake, the grassland changes into marsh. And I either have to walk through the wet hummocks or in the tangled forest. I am now on the side where the river runs. In between the marsh and the river over time(long time) a dike has formed. The animals (horses and wilder kinds)have made trails in here, but they are hard to follow. I crawl under and over trees. Till I come to another wet marsh where there is fresh sign of maybe two moose. A good reason to turn around. I do enjoy the place, a log is placed (just for me) to cross one channel. Lots of Red-winged Black birds around. 3 of them seem to be a family, as one ,the fledgling? , seems kind of awkward. So many mysteries. There are lot of tiny Bluets about, here in my book I read that the Bluets are not dragonflies they are damselflies. My question actually was, what about size? Does smaller means younger or... I will let you know. As in accordance with the mosquitoes, there are many dragonflies and as I just learn damselflies! Lovely. While having supper a big (say 10cm) dark one, keeps the bug population down around us.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rosa woodsii

Taking a different route to the 911 pond paid off in many ways. As I left the meadow and climbed slightly up to higher ground, but still an open grassy landscape, I saw Rose bushes. Nothing unusual, was it not that they looked different. Some how miniature and paler pink flowers and the petals half closed. In a close up inspection, I realize they are not our prickly Rose, as they don't have many prickles. At home I bring out the books and am overjoyed to find that it is the wood rose. As usual, what do I know. I thought we only had one one wild rose in the Yukon.
I followed the bush road through the thick Spruce forest and came out by the highway, there on the bluff I saw roses which appear to have a slightly orangy pink color. Now I wonder....
Too much! and in that short stretch I also want to mention the smells. With all the rain we have been having,it seems that when the sun shines and it turns hot, there are so many smells. The roses are definitely wonderful. But in that thick forest I love the smell of that..., the moss I suppose. Also on the trail where it was more open I found again a patch of purple Astragalus agrestis, I recognize it by it's scent.

White Admiral

Inspired by the notion of an alternate route, I went to the 911 pond, by turning off to the meadows on another bush road. As the crow flies it is actually shorter and on the way back I put in another shortcut on this side of the highway. I basically only have to cross the highway. What liberation! It's funny how I dread biking on the highway, but at the same time love it. And find it hard not to, when there's that option.
All along the winding Mendenhall river there are meadows and marshes. And to come out on this meadow, the sight fills my heart with great joy. Coming out of the forest, there is a bit of high ground, where you overlook the meadow, which is more varied then the 911pond, it has little ponds, bushes and is more erratic in shape. In the middle it's mainly marsh, but here in the grass there are many flowers blooming. I will try to make a list from memory, there are so many flowers now anywhere. What stands out in my mind , are the Wild Blue Flax. Its the tallest in the grass and stands out above all the purple, yellow, white etc. Ahh and the meadow has clay patch where no grass grows , but the dark purplish red from the glasswort.
A beautiful sight too is the flax mixed with the roses higher up, blue and pink.
Because there is a band of horses on these meadows, there are truck tracks, I suppose to find the horses and/or feed them hay in the winter. The area is extensive and the horses few, we don't see them very often. But biking on the tire tracks works good. And amazingly there is a continuous string of grassland(with tracks) all the way to the 911 pond.

As I am now on the east side of the pond, I follow the shore on this side. The grassland is higher here compared to the other side where it is more marsh land, and pleasant to walk on. I come by a stand of willows which seems to be full of Savannah Sparrows. They lead me away in the direction I am going. Closer to the water's edge are several Red-winged Blackbirds. I come to a little bit of a knoll and sit down to enjoy it all, the birds putting on a display. There are ducks in the pond, but it is to far to see what they are, even with binoculars. Later at home zooming in the photos, it seems one group was a family with at least 7 ducklings.
Ahh and besides all the blossems and birds, butterflies!

On the photo on top a:
Limenitis arthemis
(why is it attracted to my bike tire?)

Friday, July 11, 2008


After so many days having been distracted, again this afternoon (I did have a delightful time) I wasn't going to be out in the wild totally). But this morning I got away for 4 hours.
Most of the time I do start my walks, right here, from my home. And it even amazes me, how many possibilities there are. I took the trail the leads to my beach boulder, came out by the road and used the neighbours' cut line. Came out by the fire smart north of the subdivision.
It is early in the morning and a very quiet. It feels soft somehow. I come out by the old gravel pit , take the path through the bog and from there I go straight up hill. Thinking I will have breakfast on a nice view point. Although the climb is beautiful and sometimes I do see glimpses of 'moose skull lake', it is forested the whole way till I reach the top. There I sit down on the bedrock. Only to have the orange I took for breakfast rolling down the slope, never to be seen again. The hill I am now on is part of the twin mountains I called 'jozina maria mnt.' And as there, this slope too has beautiful big slabs of granite bedrock in a perfect 45 degree angle. (definitely perfect for an orange to careen down).
Its a view I have described many times, but I am happy to tell you that I see two white dots(binoculars) in the 911 pond. The Swans?
After breakfast I continue the ridge towards 'jozina maria'. I am surprised to see I was right beside the Ravine.( I'll explore it another day with you. ) I cross this delightful landmark on the top end, where it starts. I will come into an area , where I 've been many times. I realize having given this mountain my name is very appropriate. This slope has bedrock ribs, that run perpendicular with the direction I am traveling. Which makes it an exciting hike. I find myself sometimes walking up the rib, some times down, but always having to climb over them. (I am a skinny woman).It is open forest, flowers blooming in the gullies, lots of heart-leaved arnica(Arnica cordifolia). And little gardens on the rocks. Suddenly I come out on a more even , grassy slope, which all the little animals prefer. First I scare a bird of its nest, and then I meet at least a half dozen chipmunks. This slope leads to one of the peaks and on the slabs of rock I am drawn up. I resist going all the way up as I know the top is forested and the gully to the twin, quite steep and many big trees that stand in the way to safely climb. I descent a little and cross where it is easiest to come out on 'maria'. From there you all know my route or can read it in previous posts. Never boring for me though, there's always something new to marvel about. Today about the Red-osier Dogwood bushes from yesterday, as I step of the path by the creek, I see there are many of them and totally in bloom, beautiful white cymes .
Which reminds me, my camera acted up today, but I do end up with a picture of a bird, ha! I took it on 'maria'. The bird might be a Grey Jay and the mountain in the background......I don't really know.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Grouse chicks

Pyrola Chlorantha (green pyrola)

Finally, I went on a Nature walk again. I had some busy days, that took me away from the wild. The wild never totally leaves me though. On several occasions I saw a little Chipping Sparrow. It's a little inconspicious bird with a beautiful reddish brown crown. It hops here in my yard and one on the side walk down town Whitehorse, close to a beautiful wild garden opposite Phillip's Bicycle shop.
Because I had been away for a few days, I kind of had to start again, and went back to the Birch trees, where I started my first stories in early May. As back then, it took me a while to slow the chatter in my head down. No sooner I started to see the pleasures of Nature. First the Birch trees I tapped for sap, looked very good, as healthy as the others, nothing showed that they had given me such an abundance of sap. I looped through a Spruce forest into the willows towards the little meadow. It's beautiful, the green grass, different kinds are blooming, in the middle a silver green patch of Coltsfoot. I can see an animal has recently walked through, and it appears it ate the yellow flowers of a Geum (avens).On my way back I suddenly see many more flowers. There's a patch of little Dogwood(Cornus canadensis) close to the Birchtrees. And later by the creek I find the taller Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera). In and close to the swamp, there are the different Pyrolas. In the swamp there is a flock of Bohemian waxwings. Some fly around from dead tree to dead tree, some just sit quietly. And then the real treat. On the path ahead of me a Grouse moves away in a suspicious way. I follow her, that's what she wants, I think she is trying to lead me away from her young. Indeed as I go back to the path, there is one chick. I try to photograph it, but it is amazing how well it knows how to hide. Ha, as I am following the chick, mom comes back with her tail fanned out and hissing. I let them be.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Grizzly bear

Today driving home from work, I finally got to see the young grizzly bear that has been hanging around along the Alaska Highway.
It is always a pleasure to watch a bear from the inside of a car. And I am delighted to see, that it is eating flowers. It is not concerned about us or the 3 other vehicles that park on the side of the road behind us. It doesn't even look at us and just grazes, biting of the flower heads of the abundant Oxytropis campestris ssp. varians. It is the light yellow one, it is a locoweed, and indeed a member of the Fabaceae (pea) family. It is called locoweed, because when cows graze on it, they go crazy. Or so goes the story.
The bear is obviously not bothered by it, and seems, to be enjoying it very much.

I wonder if a bear eats Fireweed. Our famous Yukon Flower is starting to bloom!
Epilobium angustifolium. Fireweed. The Yukon Floral Emblem.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Yukon River Quest

This morning I woke up our guest Sonja Anderson at 5.30 am. She had to go to work. It was minus 2 degrees Celsius. We had to scrape the ice of her car's windshield!
Frost means clear skies! And it turned out to be a hot sunny day. Now, this very moment it is a new moon. Maybe... what comes with the moon goes with moon.

Yesterday, July 1, was already a beautiful day. In the afternoon Don and I drove out to the Champagne dump. A wild place for sure, but not the kind of wild I want to talk about. Worth mentioning is the drive to it. The roads are lined with flowers. I had Don stop a few times. The Fabaceae (pea) family is well represented. Most showy, the purples of the Heysarums. And I found two more Astragalus (Milk Vetch). White ones, showy enough, probably the tenellus and williamsii.

In the evening Sonja and I went strawberry picking. They are actually not as abundant as I thought. We had to drive out to Stony Creek, there we picked enough for dessert. mmmmmm Sonja had brought whip cream. "Thank you my friend."
About the strawberries, what is interesting, is that I wonder if they bear fruit in the true wild. I've picked them for 18 years, always on old abandoned road ways or man made clearings or beside roads. What do you know?

July 2. Early in the morning I biked over to my friend Jane Vincent. It is still frosty in the shadows. But it already feels like it is going to be warm. I had not seen Jane for a while as she had been participating in the Yukon River Quest. I am proud to tell you, that she and her paddle partner,Bodo Lenitchek came in; in 46 hours and 44 min. 2nd place,tandem canoe category. "Congratulations Jane and Bodo!"

In the afternoon Nora and I put our noses to yet another Astragalus. This a sprawling one with few, but pretty little purple flowers. Another sweet smelling one.
And later on that day, I wanted to know, for once and all, which Astragalus grows by 'elfin creek'. The place where the creek disappears is actually only 1 km. from here. Today I see; the creek doesn't really go underground, but fans out. That's where I find the Astragalus along side all the High Bush Cranberry. And there are Black Currant bushes, another favorite. I find a blooming Astragalus and it is an americanus.

As I am typing this, the windows are wide open. And the flicker hatchlings are practicing their voices.They have been doing so for the last few days. I called them fledglings last week, but actually, they do stick their heads out of the hole, but I haven't seen them flying yet. On a sad note, the Flicker nest by my outhouse, which was only 2 meters of the ground, is abandoned.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008



Happy Canada Day!

I am not making a political statement.
I am very happy to live in Canada.
But is this an Astragalus americana or Astragalus canadensis?