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  • Writer's pictureKarl Koerber

Today's Hike - Grassy Mountain

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

July 1, 2023

My personal Canada Day celebration consisted of a hike up to the southern ridge of Grassy Mountain in the Bonnington Range—my first day-long hike of the season.

I’ve only been on this mountain a couple of other times, once on the north ridge and, a couple of years back, here on the south side, where I was gifted with a sighting of a grizzly bear family. No such luck today, though, but there were plenty of smaller denizens, including this golden-mantled ground squirrel, checking me out from behind its fortress battlements.

I noticed this near-perfect web stretched between some branches only because of the way the sunlight was striking it. I carefully walked around it, but may well have wreaked devastation on my return route. Sorry, spider.

Quite the array of wildflowers too, with different species in bloom at different elevations. According to Google Earth, I gained about 440 metres of altitude on this hike, from 1560 to 2000 metres.

I believe this is short-beaked agoseris, being explored by an ant of an unknown (by me) taxon.

A new flower for me (!) old man's whiskers. After flowering, this plant produces feather-like plumes which give it its name.

Parsnip-flowered buckwheat is ubiquitous on these slopes.

Larkspur is also abundant, but mostly on the lower elevations.

Common harebell is another of the many flowers growing here.

Along with the bears, I remember seeing mountain bluebirds up here on my last hike, and I found a small flock of them this time, too. It’s always a treat to see these guys flitting about in the alpine.

A couple of other birds that allowed me close enough for a photo were a chipping sparrow with a tasty grub in its beak, and a male dusky grouse that alerted me to his presence with his basso mating call. We played hide-and-seek among the subalpine fir trees for a while before I let him carry on with his search for a date.

I suspect that summer drought conditions prevent the establishment of trees on most of this rocky, south-facing slope. A few moss-covered skeletons from bygone days remain scattered here and there.

Nearing the crest of the ridge, with Canby's lovage, stonecrop and leafy aster among the many flowers gracing the route.

From the top of the south ridge there is a good view of the northern, or 'main' ridge of Grassy Mountain, with a patch of shrubby penstemon in the foreground.. If you look carefully in the bottom left of the photo, you can make out the roof of the Grassy hut, a cabin for hikers and skiers.

On the 48th try (or thereabouts) I managed to capture an almost sharp image of a swallowtail in flight. The wildflowers here are attractants for insects, including a profusion of butterflies.

These fritillary butterflies (one of several very similar-looking species) were also in abundance on the mountain.

I'm sure that I've seen a Rocky Mountain parnassian butterfly before, but I'm fairly certain I didn't have a photo until this one landed on a buckwheat flower right next to where I'd stopped for a short rest on my way back down the mountain. It felt like a divine visitation to top off a glorious day.

On such a day I need no reminder to give thanks. This is my church, my consecrated ground, and gratitude is woven into the very fabric of its being. Here I take communion: the sky, the air, the exquisite light, particles of vibrating beauty and LIFE, miraculous life, at every turn, in every glance, in all its manifestations. Blessings too vast to count.

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Jul 04, 2023

Another fine morning stroll, Karl. Once again, great images, wonderful wildlife. I thought the squirrel was a little chipmunk. Good that you specified the species. Yes, indeed, I can see why you call it your church. Regards, Ron

Karl Koerber
Karl Koerber
Jul 06, 2023
Replying to

Thanks, Ron.

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