It was a cold blustery fall day today, devoid of any warmth or color. And so I turn to look back through my summer pictures of flowers which I took while I was working at a fishing lodge south of Atlin Lake. Despite a steady workload in the kitchen I still found time to get out and explore the surrounding countryside. There was one hike that I did with my son and a few of the other people in camp. It started with a steep, lung-stretching, leg-cramping climb up a ridge to where a narrow footpath wrapped it’s way along it’s length.
This trail is ancient. It was a highway back in the day of the Tlingit when they inhabited the area. They had many such trails and could easily cover country that now days is nearly impassible. The trail is only cut out in some areas now and is mostly overgrown in others. Here, the part of trail we were using to get down to a fishing hole called “The Gorge”, was fairly well cut out and was cleaned up even more this summer by fishing guide Brad.
It was along this trail that we scavenged for wild strawberries and gazed across the sea of pine and spruce to the mountains pointing towards the Taku River Basin and Juneau, Alaska. And it was along this trail late in June that I saw the glorious purple heads of Lupin standing tall on the shaded forest floor, amongst the tall stands of lodgepole pine and surrounded by feathery gorse grass and tundras. Though a common sight in British Columbia wilderness, they are anything but common to look at. I find their beautiful purple hues refreshing amongst all the green. This is a very good flower to learn to recognize, as they are VERY POISONOUS PLANTS, especially the seeds. And despite it’s showy fragile beauty this plant is on record for having some of the hardiest seeds.
Wandering past the tall stands of lodgepole pine that had been used by the Tlingit to build cabins, and the nodding heads of purple lupine, we climbed up through the bushes towards the sound of the Nakina river. Bursting out of the forest we were overlooking the skeleton structures of a camp. Weathered wooden tent frames and an old smokehouse were visible as we wound our way down through Saskatoon bushes just finished flowering. Past the old tent frames on a wide open rocky bluff was a wonderfully situated First Nations Camp. Unfortunately the cabin had seen better days—a combination of grizzlies and snowfall had collapsed roof and trashed the place, leaving a scattering of goods and personal effects all around.
On the tip of the rocky bluff overlooking the deep greeny-blue waters of the Nakina, I stumbled across yellow succulent flowers with stems that reminded me of an insects hairy legs in “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”. Yellow Sedum or Common Stonecrop like to inhabit dry rocky places. This was as good a spot as any for them to grow in abundance with such a lovely view of the fishing hole below.
This is a new flower for me to learn and hopefully retain so that I can recognize it next year. In looking it up, I found out that Common Stonecrop is an herb, and that the variety that I came across is most likely the “Spreading” Stonecrop or “Pacific” Stonecrop variety that was used as a herb for salads by the Haida and the Nisga’s First Nation groups in Northern BC. Some varieties of yellow sedum are used for medicinal purposes, though I would suggest being very certain of which variety you are using as some can be mildly toxic, while others can cause paralysis. So I don’t think I’ll be trying the leaves of these flowers anytime soon, no matter how medicinal they may be. I’ll just enjoy their sunshiny brightness with my camera!
Stay Tuned for more Wildflower fun!
Anyone learn a new wildflower this year? Feel free to share!