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  • Writer's pictureKarl Koerber

Today's Hike - White Queen

August 28, 2023


Life's been busy this August so, when I finally had a day free for a hike, I braved the smoke (foolishly, perhaps) and explored the trail to White Queen peak in the Whitewater ski area.


This kind of sign tends to give one pause, but the passage of a couple weeks since the reported incident seemed to indicate that the bears had moved on. I do like seeing bears and have never had anything other than a peaceful encounter (well, with one notable exception*) but being charged by a grizzly is not on my bucket list.

The early part of the trail follows a deactivated logging/mining road through an older clearcut. Near the top of this road there is a nice view of Mt. Ymir, just above the Whitewater ski area. This is the area where the grizzly was spotted and you can see why she was there – the sidehill is covered with huckleberry bushes, now sporting their red autumn foliage.

This trail is not as spectacular as many of the other Kootenay hikes - for most of its length it wanders through a subalpine forest with few opportunities for a glimpse of the surrounding landscapes (not that any distant views were visible through the murky haze of wildfire smoke that had settled into the valleys). Still, there is always beauty to be found, as in these last few fireweed blossoms decorated with a strategically situated web to trap insects drawn to the flowers.


Web design was turning out to be a recurring theme on this adventure. This gleaming mandala, with its architect lurking dead centre, injected a work of symmetry and elegance into the random chaos of the surrounding forest.


Staying on the spider theme, I came upon a magician seeming to climb on thin air until a shift in the breeze exposed the illusion.


I suspect that this hermit thrush was fledged just this spring, as it seemed quite curious – maybe trying to make sense of the strange giant lumbering toward it along the trail.

Finally, the White Queen summit, with a view of Mt. Beattie to the east. The last few hundred metres of the trail are the most scenic with views (unfortunately obscured by smoke on this day) in several directions. The ridge is also populated with a grove of alpine larch trees that will be quite lovely when they turn golden a few weeks from now.


Near the end of the long, knee-punishing trudge back down the trail (it’s about a 10 km round trip with a 500-metre elevation gain) I was rewarded, as I paused to rest for a moment, with the sight of a fireweed seed pod suddenly releasing its payload, allowing the gentle breeze to waft the silky next generation out onto the waiting land. The cycle of life, continuing.

* Okay, a bit of a teaser here. I've been working, at my glacial pace, on a memoir that I hope to publish at some point, if I live that long. The bear encounter story will be there. I know, I know - the anticipation is almost unbearable.


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4 Comments


Gwen Norman
Gwen Norman
Aug 31, 2023

“Always beauty to be found”…profound and true. Thank you for sharing the beauty

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Karl Koerber
Karl Koerber
Sep 01, 2023
Replying to

Thank you, Gwen

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saminwinlaw
Aug 30, 2023

The fireweed seed pod photo is lovely but the ridges and ranges obscured by smoke is most painterly. Thanks for the vicarious hike Karl - they are always easy on my knees eh. Sam

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Karl Koerber
Karl Koerber
Sep 01, 2023
Replying to

Thanks, Sam.


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