Ptarmigan Cirque 2020

Around noon, Cathy, Anne and I hiked up to Ptarmigan Cirque, one of the most magical landscape bowls that I’ve come across.  A scenic drive from Longview, I feel myself unwind every time I have the opportunity to do this.

A little earlier in the season, I was gobsmacked by the multitude of Glacier Lilies that were in full bloom, as well as White-flowering Mountain Avens (Dryas hookeriana).  These made the hike today really special.

Be warned, the trails this summer, are heavily traveled compared to any other year.  On one hand, it excites me that so many people, with their children, are getting out to see the wonders that Alberta/B.C. offer.  On the other hand, sometimes I worry about preparedness as I see little children heading up in little sandals and no jackets. (The wind up at the top was cold and pretty powerful today.  I guess everyone learns their lessons in their own time, so, I’m leaving these thoughts as mere observations.

The air was so intoxicating.  It was cool and fragrant.

Conversation was easy among friends.  I loved sharing the trail with these two.  Again, my words are going to be limited, here, but I am excited to share a little bit of what we experienced today in photographs.  Anne and Cathy, I love you, dear friends.

I hold nature and wilderness in deepest regard.  Such joy…I’ve not found anywhere else.

 

 

Diamond T and Pick Up the Park!

It was a busy day.  It began with flowers in my own garden…

Oriental Poppy

Columbine

Orchid Frost Lamium

Peony

…and expanded to include a whole number of beautiful wild flowers.  As I type, I am thinking about the special friends who also shared this day with me.  I am so grateful!

We had a meet up at Station Flats to do the Diamond T hike, a good early conditioning hike.  Val, Cathy, Oliver and I were an eager little group.  The link provided is a 2016 map, but will be helpful if you want to know where to pull off for the trail head.

Cathy retires this year, so a little Naked Grape Blue was served at our picnic spot.

Mountain Shooting Star

 

Red Paintbrush, Orobanchacea.

Arnica, Arnica cordifolia

Purple Virgin’s Bower, Clematis verticellis

Raising the glass in celebration of Cathy’s amazing career as a teacher.  She has impacted so many people along the way.  She has a stunningly huge heart and I am blessed to call her ‘friend’.

Oliver is waving at the bottom of a very very long hill.

Canada Violets  (I LOVE THESE!)

Wild Geranium or ‘Sticky Geranium’

Canada Anemone, Anemone canadensis

I had a two p.m. meet up with the ladies at Bankside in Fish Creek Park for their annual litter pick up.  I knew I was going to be late by a bit, so sent a message to one of my sister-friends and ended up connecting without very much hassle.  I had fun sharing conversation, weather, but not much litter at all along this particular walk.  My friends are the very best for being open to fun and good times.

While we didn’t verbally acknowledge it, this day, my friend Ramona’s birthday, was a perfect celebration of the Summer Solstice.

Ox Eye Daisy

While the sky was threatening and the air very humid, I was grateful that the weather held and we made our way back to our cars.  It was magical to see a lovely bride and her wedding party making their way to the river’s edge and I’m glad that they had only the mosquitoes to contend with, but no lightening.

Happy Summer Solstice to all of my readers.

Many Springs 2019

A beautiful walk and picnic today at Many Springs with my dear friends and family.  Throughout the hike, I was thinking about our sister-friend, Wendy, who died this past year.  I also thought deeply about my brother, John. His son was able to join us on this Father’s Day and I felt such heart ache for him.  I didn’t talk about anything that was going through my head though, and instead, made a real effort to frame my thoughts around internal monologues such as,

Wendy would say…

“This day is incredible.”

She would say…

“This picnic is fabulous.”

My brother would say…

“Thank you, Sis.”

I held a lot in today, but that’s alright.

In past years, whenever one of us would pop our heads out of the shade of some bush, asking, “What is this one?”,  Wendy would come back quickly with the name of the flower, or would look it up in her reference information.”  We are always going to miss this and so much more.

I’m grateful for the rituals that we share and for the many memories we have collected, as friends and family.  While I didn’t allow the emotions to surface, I felt them all and that too, is very special.

Some of the brilliance of this day is captured in these photographs, but not all.  We all missed our friend, Darlene, today.  She was also in our hearts.

Many Springs 2007

Many Springs 2011

Many Springs 2012

In 2013, the great flood occurred and my mother died after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.  I went home in June in order to stay with my father through the following months.  I watched the news of the flood from Belleville, Ontario.

Many Springs 2014

Many Springs 2015

Many Springs 2016

I didn’t take a photograph of the Sweetvetch (Hedysarum (sweetvetch) is a genus of the botanical family Fabaceae, consisting of about 200 species of annual or perennial herbs in AsiaEuropeNorth Africa, and North America.) that was dominating the walk today, but just now read that its roots are a very common and well-loved source of food for Grizzlies.

We didn’t spot any Western Wood Lilies today or Bracted Bog Orchids.

 

Yellow Lady’s Slippers

Blue Columbine

Aromatic Juniper

Wild Violets

Dodecatheon pulchellum, commonly known as pretty shooting star, few-flowered shooting star, dark throat shooting star and prairie shooting star, is a species of flowering plant in the primula family Primulaceae.

Paintbrush

Western Anemone

Flower Walking at Many Springs

Many Springs 2007

Many Springs 2011

Many Springs 2012

Many Springs 2013

Many Springs 2014

Many Springs 2015

It was that time of year…time to check out the blooms.  It was sad to see Val have to stay back.  Little Ollie got sick at our meet-up spot and his Mom had to do the nurturing thing.  I thought about Val a lot today.

So, it was just the four of us for a walk about and a picnic.  It seems that the lack of water has impacted the lushness of the wild flowers this year.  I don’t know if I’m right on that or not.  We got our standard bridge photograph and the shot from the little floating deck.  Oh!  And this year, we met up with three Kananaskis volunteers who were passing out reminders of etiquette as it relates to bears.  Just up the trail a bit…a little sampling of bear skat was in evidence.  Had to get a photograph of that.  I don’t think we EVER think of bears when we come to Many Springs!  Always a first!

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We missed you, Carla, Dar and Val!  Next year!

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Orchid

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Wild Columbine

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Wild Asters

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Tiger Lily

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Lady Slipper

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Shooting Star

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Paintbrush

Our stops along the way…

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Three Friends

Cathy, Kath and Wendy

Hiking Many Springs

Wendy, Darren and Kath

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Picnic lunch at the end of it all.

 

 

 

First Crocus of the Year

It is such a celebration when, finally, the crocuses are blooming on the ridge.  I once painted a Mother series around the crocus because each spring they reminded me of my own mother, their softness, fragility and beauty.  The crocus is so ephemeral and yet such a powerful symbol of new life.  Although it’s really not an environmentally sound ritual, I also picked and pressed a single bloom as a rite of spring each year, for many years. Here are three of those spring times captured in a frame.

P1100915This year, I’ve broken with that rite of spring and have left my bloom to be admired and then to lose it’s petals, go to seed and bloom again next spring.  I will remember and cherish that I was graced by its beauty.  Life experiences have taught me that to admire and engage a life, however fleeting, is enough.

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Hiking the Brown-Lowery Provincial Park Trails

It was a wonderful opportunity to get in a spring hike, when I was called in as a substitute teacher on a field-trip day!  I had been up this way before and wasn’t particularly happy about the mosquitoes that acted like jet-fighters; it was so boggy and hot.  This day, though, was different!  While there were a limited variety of wild flowers in bloom as yet, I enjoyed recollections of my last journey, when the meadows magically came to life with white blooms and huge elephant-ear leaves.  I am still struggling to identify this plant because there are very similar wild flowers; White Angelica, Spotted Water Hemlock, and Cow Parsnip.  It happened that yesterday, these were not blooming.

Just fading, were Calypso bulbosa var. americana ‘Eastern-fairy Slipper’.  In huge quantity were Mertensia paniculata ‘Tall Lungwort, Bluebell’. Arnica cordifolia or Mule’s Ear Daisies were plentiful, as were Linaria vulgaris ‘Toadflax, Butter and Eggs’ at our lunch spot.  As we hiked out in the rain, we found some beautiful wild tiger lilies. I haven’t noted here, all of the plants I discovered yesterday, but will research and add them in later.  Bird songs were varied and magical, although I wasn’t able to make any sitings and I’m really inexperienced, identifying by song alone.  Suffice it to say, it was a fantastic thing to get out hiking.  It was exhilarating and I continue to absolutely love where I live!

Brown-Lowery Provincial Park is an unexpected refuge of greenery in ranching country. This 228-hectare park is a lovely preserve of old-growth spruce and aspen forest with an extensive understorey of wild flowers (in season) and other plants.

In low-lying areas, marshes fed by tiny streams support wetland vegetation including cow parsnips. Brown-Lowery Provincial Park is a series of rough trails that wind through what seems to be a vast property.  The land was donated to the province by Home Oil founders Robert Brown Sr and Major James Robert Lowery in the 1960’s. This site, previously a recreation area, became a Provincial Park in 1992-1993. Not many Calgarians know of the park, so it’s generally crowd free, and a great place to wander and take in the sights, smells, and sounds of the forest!

The Park is just northwest of Turner Valley, southwest of Priddis, and is accessed from Highway 762 (turn at the sign for “Plummer’s Road”). It’s not a big area — only about 3 km2 — but there’s plenty of hiking to be done.

The area is a maze of trails and paths, some leading to viewpoints, some along creeks, and some to the remains of structures in the area — a cabin and a sawmill.

During the spring, the area is known for its birdwatching potential and is a wonderful preserve for all wildlife.

Our lunch spot provided the most breath-taking view, after a couple of very athletic ‘ups’, the students were celebratory and hungry!  It was a wonderful respite from the city!

The setting provided a panoramic screen where we watched the dramatic weather see its origins in the mountains and travel one valley after another, toward us.

We got down into the low brush as the lightning grew in force.  Fortunately, we only experienced one downpour and enjoyed the challenges that mud provides on a downward slope. :0)  A magical day, for certain!

Let’s Hit the Road, Jack!

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living. Anais Nin