Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Green, red, blue, and a hidden treasure

The road from Williams Lake to Bella Coola starts and ends on steep hills; up to the Chilcotin Plateau at the east end, then steeply down (up to an 18% grade) from Heckman Pass (1487 m, or 4879 ft.) in Tweedsmuir Park at the western end. I stopped at the top of the hill, to stretch my legs before the tricky descent.

Entering Tweedsmuir Park. The road from here to the bottom of the hill (30 km) is gravel.

Green river. After the blackened forest at the summit, this was a welcome sight.

As the road climbs, clumps of red paintbrush and dwarf lupins appear along creek beds and ditches. I wandered here and there, keeping a hopeful eye out for bears, and swatting the ravenous mosquitoes and midges, seemingly attracted by my bug repellent. Everywhere, there were flowers, with their buzzing pollinators hard at work; the summer is short here, and they don't waste a moment of it.

Red Paintbrush, Castilleja, possibly the Alpine species.

Lupins. At this altitude, they are low plants, usually under 6 inches tall. These, on a boggy creek bank, are taller than most.

A couple of Alpine asters, and the stiff leaves of one of our native berries.

I had been walking for some time before I noticed the orchids. Once I found them, I realized that they were all around, their modest green and white stalks blending into the background. Look closely at the photo of the asters; do you see the orchid?

White bog-orchid, Platanthera dilatata, hidden in plain sight.

 A closer view.

And another.

These are fragrant plants, but I was wearing so much sunscreen and bug repellent that I couldn't smell anything else. Next time, I'll risk being eaten. Somebody has to feed the mosquitoes, after all.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely! Thanks for sharing the native orchids in your area!

    The Florida Native Orchid Blog


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