On Tuesday, September 10 four of us hiked up to the alpine meadows just below Jim Kelly Peak and Coquihalla Mountain. The weather was perfect and we were all excited as we drove along the Tulameen River and then bounced our way over the deep culvert ditches on the track to the trailhead. The first part of the hike is forested with needle-covered footfalls that are delight to walk on. As we ascended, the blueberry and huckleberry bushes crowded the trail and we almost had to drag Peter Antonick screaming and kicking up the trail to keep him from spending the rest of the day picking. We promised him some picking time on the way down.
Higher up the forest thinned out and mountain peaks sprouted up all around us. The alpine meadows in that area are stunningly beautiful with hundred-mile views, turquoise lakes, autumn-tinged low bush blueberry bushes, shining granite hillsides and patches of snow. Above us the sky was vibrant and cloudless and the breeze carried the scent of spruce and heather. We had lunch on the shores of a lake dominated by Jim Kelly Peak and then continued along the ridge to more meadows, lakesn and stunning views. The geography of the region became really apparent from this ridge. To the near west of us lay the jagged peaks and deep valleys of the Cascade Range and beyond that the peaks of the Coast Range poked the horizon. To the east lay the rounder, undulating profile of the Okanagan-Thompson Plateau.
As we circled the ridge back to the downward trail we paused in blueberry meadows and began to pick our way down the mountain. Farther down we added huckleberries to our stash.
With beauty-filled thoughts and tired thighs we hiked to the truck and bounced our way back to the road and home again.
Ed Staples will lead the next hike on Sept. 21 along the KVR trail from Coalmont to White Sands beach and back. Meet at Billy’s at 9 a.m. or the intersection of Coalmont Road and the KVR at 9:30 a.m.
Our next meeting will be Oct. 8, 7 p.m., when Dennis St. John will speak on Monarch butterflies.
Vermilion Forks Field Naturalists