Saturday, 17 August 2013

Of bears and pikas - Rummel Pass

The story of my summer has been lots of volunteering in the back country but not much actual hiking. Yesterday, we dragged a friend out to help us partially rectify this, and took him up to Rummel Pass. Aim high, I say; we hiked 16.4 km and climbed 605 m for the day.

But the fun started before we even got to the trailhead. First, we found a red fox on Hwy 742 just south of the Goat Creek parking lot. He was in a hurry, so we got no photos. Then we saw a big grizzly bear chowing down on the side of the highway 3 km from our trailhead.
Berries for a 500 lb bear
And it turns out this was a mom, because she had an offspring in tow -- who was at least 1 and possibly 2 years old.
In the ditch not 30 m away from mom
Part the way up the trail, we found a spruce grouse mom and at least 2 chicks.
Chick 1
Mom was being a typical spruce grouse and so we almost stepped on her. They count on the really good camouflage and hope to escape detection, but like walking on the trails.
She didn't even move
Views on the way up were nice as always.
Looking across Spray Lake
We found a few larches on the way up that are already changing colour -- or dying. Neither outcome is good; the former means it's winter soon.
Not good
This trail has been fairly unaffected by the floods except for two sections. There's a landslide just before the bridged creek crossing, so a temporary bridge is in place to get around it.
Planks on the left, landslide on the right
We wanted to stay on the "right" side of the creek to take the summer trail, rather than the disenchanted forest walk of the winter snowshoe trail. We found the route that we suspect will be made into the permanent access to the real bridge (which was unaffected by the floods) marked by white cotton flagging. We bushed bashed it but discovered that's really not necessary, as it's easy to cross on the temporary planks and parallel the river to the real bridge, then cross back over.

The summer trail's in OK shape, with a few dicy bits, and skirting the first waterfall hasn't changed.
High trail fine, low trail partially washed out but passable
The first waterfall's still really pretty...
Mountains tower over falling water is the second.
The whole thing 
The upper part
Now, getting from the 1st waterfall to the to the 2nd is a bit dodgy. The summer trail crosses an avalanche slope which let loose a bunch of rock during the floods, and the trail's now "missing" across the slope low down in the willows. We tried to find it, but I'm glad I had a GPS track of the route I could use on the other side of the landslide, because find it we could not. There was a cairn, but finding a cairn in a rockfall's not the easiest.

The lake was pretty as usual...
Across the lake from our lunch spot
...but the best part was that we were treated to a pika show. There were at least 5, and some posed on rocks...
Watching me 
Watching out 
Just watching
...some ran around...
Mr. Chubbybutt
...and one -- well, he just settled into the grass and chowed down on roots.
In his hole 
Mmmn, mmmn, grass
Deep grass 
Peek a boo! 
Still in his hole 
Still liking the roots
I've never seen a pika do much more than harvest grasses and run them back into his home and midden in the rock piles. This dude just sat in the grass for about 10 minutes eating. And we were able to get close and watch.

After lunch, we gained the upper meadow...
Looking back to Mt. Birdwood
...and headed up to the pass, passing two dry tarns and one partially full one along the way.
All dried up 
There's water in this one
We got to the pass about 2 PM.
Lost Lake, Mt. Baldy on the right, Old Baldy in the distance
Looking up the face of The Tower 
The Fortress visible just past the flanks of Mt. Galatea
Heading back down, what do we run into but more pikas.
On his way 
Heading on by 
Around here, he yelled at me
We were also watched by a few Columbian ground squirrels.
Allen... Allen... Allen
While there's no consequential water in the tarns, there's still a bit in the creek.
Over the edge 
At the edge
And right at the edge of the meadow, we found a dead porcupine. An interesting place to find him, in that they eat tree bark, and he was mostly above tree line.
Don't step in that 
My, what huge teeth he has...
Down by the car, we were hoping to see a moose, but alas, the "perfect" wildlife day was not to be.
Smuts Creek in a place where it didn't make a mess
We did see a yearling bighorn sheep while driving home.
A roadside lurker
Rummel remains a favourite longer hike of mine, though by the end of the day, my feet were pretty tired.


Anonymous said...

How far away were you from the grizzly bears?

RyderDA said...

The mom was up on a hillside ~15m from the roadside. We were in the car on the opposite side of the road, so probably 25 m away. We slowed. She watched us for a moment, then went on eating.

Junior was right on the side of the road, and we drove as far away from him/her as we could to slowly get by, but were likely within 10 m. Junior stood up on his/her hind legs as we slowed to go past mom, but by the time we were to Junior, his head was back down in his berry bushes, and he didn't care about us in the least.

Edwin said...