Travel Journal

Dunster - May 26 - Black Bear

(Sunday 27 May 2007) by Karin
Hi all:
Weekend starts today.... I know because everyone is home and its planting weekend. Ooops... we are not even finished preparing the garden for planting. So that's what we started on this morning after "letting the flowers and veggies out" of the greenhouse. Made a pathway and put up the trellises for the beans and peas.
After lunch we went for a hike in Mount Robson Provincial Park. The park, established in 1913, is the second oldest park in British Columbia's park system. The mountain for which the park is named guards the park's western entrance. At 3954 meters, Mount Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. It is impressive and beautiful. Moose, Yellowhead and Berg lakes are the largest lakes within the park but we headed for Kinney lake.
Black bear
Black bear

But it is on the way to the park, along the highway, that I finally saw my first black bear. You often see black bears along the highways. They are more tolerant of humans then grizzly bears. They are active day and night, shuffling along, nose to the ground, always looking for food. The black bear diet is about 75 vegetarian. It's main natural enemy is the grizzly bear and tree-climbing is the black bear's usual defence. To escape danger, a black-bear cub runs quickly up the trunk by hugging it, cat-style. This accounts for short, strong, curved claws of black bears. Adult females climb as well, but large boars seldon do. (You see, no need to climb treas to escape from a black bear.) Aspens are often used as getaway trees, although any tree would do.
Bear claws on tree
Bear claws on tree
I did see a tree with black bear claws prints on it.
A baby blackbear wheighs just 360 grams at birth. Reason for this is that a bear cub is born during the mother's dormant period. (Bears are not true hibernators for their body temperatures don't drop much.) She usually wakens during birth, cleans her cubs, eats their afterbirth, then goes back to sleep. The cubs nurse and crawl about as the mother sleeps. Their eyes open at 6 weeks, but they are not weaned until five or six months old. I guess that's enough black bear information for now.
In the park, during our hike, we didn't see any wildlife. Lots of interesting flora info but I'm sure you are not all waiting for another flora lessen. So will just tell you about the Western Hemlock. One of the trees encountered. Another evergreen. Easily identified by its needles, which are short, green on one side and whitish on the other. The top growth of a Hemlock tree, called the "leader" leans over.
Calypso Orchid/ Fairy's slipper / Venus's slipper
Calypso Orchid/ Fairy's slipper / Venus's slipper
And also about the Calypso Orchid or Fairy's Slipper of Venus's Slipper. A lot of pretty names for the most beautiful of the Rocky Mountain orchids. Upper part of flower pink to pale-purple; below, bright yellow stamens with black tips hang over the purple-marked white lower lip of the flower. Each plant has only one basal leaf, round and dark-green.
From the parking lot the trail crosses the
Robson river
Robson river
Robson river and follows its west bank, climbing gradually to the outlet of Kinney lake, known as the "mirror of the mount", lying at an elevation of 980 meters above sea level. The lake was an amazing bluegreen as was the river we followed. Had to keep myself from not making a picture at every turn. Really beautiful and very inviting to jump in but as it is glacier water it is very, very cold, probably even icy cold (I didn't test it). The Robson river owes its color to Rock Flour: tiny particles scraped from the bedrock by stones embedded in moving glacial ice. (Water is highly transparent, but it tends to absorb the longer wavelengths of light (yellow, red) more than it does the shorter wavelengths (blue, green). These blue and green hues are reflected in all directions and some of this light bounces back to our eyes, which is why pure water looks blue or bluegreen). Mount Robson's four glaciers supply melt water to this river, as do the eight other glaciers in the watershed. All this water goes into the Fraser river. There are no lakes along the Fraser so it travels all the way to the Pacific ocean near Vancouver, a journey of a thousand kilometers.
After about a kilometere, the trail crosses an avalanche slope. Afterwards, we entered an "old-growth" grove of western red cedar trees. Some of those widely-spaced giants are probably 200 to 300 years old. I tried to hug one of the trees but my arms were not long enough. After leaving the cedar grove we got a beautiful view of Mt. Resplendent, the second highest mountain in the park.
Kinney lake
Kinney lake
It then crosses another avalanche slope before we reached Kinney Lake. Just before, I finally realized why no water was coming out of my platypus. I put the bag in the wrong way. I solved that problem quickly. We had a snack and enjoyed the views before heading back to the car. It's amazing how even though you take the same trail, it all looks different from the other side.
After our hike and some dinner we returned to the garden to do last minute preparations for the planting tomorrow. We moved all the compost bins to another corner of the garden as to have more space for the veggies. A few wheelbarrows full of hay, leaves, horse manure, ready compost and 'in the make' compost to be moved. Then we measured rows and strung string to separate them. Ernie had already made the plan of which veggies would go in the different rows. Complicated as some of those vegetables just don't like each other and others do better if they are planted next to each other. The weather was nice and I think all the mosquitos went to bed so that was really nice too. It was nice working all three together. We had a few good laughs and finished around 10:00 pm. Tomorrow planting day.

 


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