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  • Writer's pictureKarl Koerber

Today's Hike - Reco Mountain

July 28, 2023


Reco Mountain and Texas Peak are at opposite ends of a ridge that lies between the Carpenter Creek and Kaslo River valleys. Last fall I hiked the southern part of the ridge as far as West Texas Peak, but I’d never done the northward Reco Mountain trail, so I was looking forward to exploring a new area. Both trails are accessed via the Stenson Creek FSR near Retallack. Last year I parked at the end of the Forest Service road and hiked up the old, steep and rough mining road that carries on for another couple of kilometres to the ridge, but this time I risked driving it. It was touch and go in a couple of spots, but my old Ford Ranger didn’t let me down and I was able to get that much closer to the actual hiking trail. For anyone planning to do this hike, I wouldn’t recommend driving the mining road unless you have a good, high-clearance 4x4 and feel comfortable driving very steep, narrow roads.


I parked at a wide spot on an avalanche run-out area, where there was still one small patch of snow (hiding behind that rock). Because the snow had just recently melted here, the early spring flowers - glacier lilies, pasqueflower and alpine buttercup among them - were still in bloom.

From there, I hiked along the mining road to the top of the ridge, where the road continues in a series of switchbacks down to Cody and Sandon, but the trail to Reco Mountain climbs straight up a steep but fairly uniform ridgeline through the last stragglers of a sparse subalpine forest.

The slopes were alive with wildflowers and butterflies, like this fritillary perched on a valerian flower.

This sentinel watched warily as I approached and then ducked out of sight when I encroached on its personal space.

Before long, the views started appearing in the gaps between the subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce trees. What remains of the old mining town of Cody was visible below, just upstream from Sandon in the Carpenter Creek valley.

After a while, I left the trees behind and continued up the shaly slope. Here the vegetation consists mostly of smaller flowering plants like this northern goldenrod, hosting another small fritillary butterfly.

The higher I climbed, the more stunning the views became, with the Kokanee Glacier and the peaks of the Kokanee Range lying to the south, and the Valhalla Range visible to the west. The remnants of the quickly-receding New Denver glacier can be seen in the centre of the following photo, with a clump of what I think is high mountain arnica in the foreground. Selkirk Peak and Idaho Peak are visible on the closer ridge line.

A bit further to the southwest, some of the iconic peaks of the Valhallas - Dag, Wolf Ears, Gimli, Gladsheim, et al - loom in the distance, with Selkirk Peak in the foreground.

I noticed a lot of these small checkerspot butterflies at this elevation.

I was also pleased to find the lovely broad-leaved willowherb in flower, and later noticed it everywhere - much more widespread than I’d ever seen it anywhere else.

This is a view to the southeast, with Texas Peak at the far end of the ridge. If you look closely, you can see two tiny white dots in the lower centre left of the photo. The bigger one is that lingering patch of snow and the smaller one is my pickup.

One last look south, with the Kokanee Glacier barely visible in the far distance, and a bouquet of paintbrush in the foreground.

The trail wraps around the western face of the mountain before making a couple of switchbacks to reach the peak. This is actually a mountain bike trail built, I believe, by the Retallack Lodge backcountry recreation operation. For a price, they will drop you and your bike off at the top of the mountain by helicopter, and you can have a long, wild ride down. Anyway, thanks, Retallack. Not often that there is a nice trail to the peak of a mountain. (I encountered no bikers or helicopters, by the way, only a couple of other hikers.)

I thought this was such a fine hike that a summit selfie was in order.

From the peak, there are 360 spectacular degrees of views. The fabulous Goat Range lies to the north, with Mt. Brennan on the far right.

This telephoto shot captured some dramatic skies over Kokanee Glacier.

The view eastward has Texas Peak in the foreground and Mt. Loki on the far side of Kootenay Lake, at the western edge of the Purcell range.

I’m always astonished at the adaptability of the lifeforms that not only survive, but thrive, in these harsh conditions, with nothing but shattered rock as a substrate in which to grow. This lance-leaved stonecrop is just one example.

This pika was busily taking advantage of the vegetation that grows here, harvesting what I think are willowherb leaves. It will spread them out on a rock to dry and then store them for a meal later, during the long alpine winter.

I took a different route down, angling across the eastern face of the mountain, where I found a lovely meadow of willowherb flourishing in the shale, and another meadow with a profusion of red, pink and yellow wildflowers.


While the western pasqueflower was still blooming on the sites where the snow had only recently disappeared, in other areas it had already formed its feathery seedheads.

Buckwheat (I believe this is sulphur buckwheat) is also common here.

This gravelly slope seemed to make a perfect home for a gathering of yellow columbine, which I hadn’t noticed anywhere else along my hike.

I was also thrilled to find silky phacelia blooming here. A beautiful flower that I don’t come across very often.

And, as I trudged back along the mining road to my pickup, I found this little congregation of fritillaries (and one checkerspot) having a drink (I surmise) from the moisture in a wet patch of gravel.

Just for perspective, here is a photo of Reco Mountain that I took from the West Texas Peak area last fall.

Another fabulous day in our beautiful mountains!


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6 comentários


nibblets
05 de ago. de 2023

Looks like you got out on one of the last smoke-free days. Lovely hike!

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Karl Koerber
Karl Koerber
05 de ago. de 2023
Respondendo a

Thanks! Yes, we've been lucky with the smoke so far. Hopefully it will clear up again soon.

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Gwen Norman
Gwen Norman
02 de ago. de 2023

Stunning images! Spectacular landscape!

Thank you for sharing!

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Karl Koerber
Karl Koerber
04 de ago. de 2023
Respondendo a

Thanks, Gwen!

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rverzuh
01 de ago. de 2023

I am in awe. The colors, the wildlife and the fantastic peaks made this one of our best posts. The little critters are favourites, them and the butterflies. Thanks, Karl.

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Karl Koerber
Karl Koerber
02 de ago. de 2023
Respondendo a

Thanks, Ron!


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