Sunday, September 24, 2006

Banded Peak looked spectacular this morning, courtesy of overnight snow, a cloudless sky, and brilliant autumn sunshine. Wow. I was on my way to Nihahi Creek, my favorite local hike, perhaps because the creek feeds into the Little Elbow and eventually the Elbow, the river beside which I was born. My parents had a home on the Elbow River in Calgary, and Mom delivered me in the Holy Cross, which overlooks the river.
The autumn colors were fabulous, although mostly yellow, courtesy of the poplars that thrive along wet riverbeds at lower elevations. Red Bearberries and Alberta Rose hips were scattered along the trail. The neck patch/moustache of a Northern Flicker added the only other splash of red on the trail. Autumn in the mountains is well advanced. I saw perhaps the final few purple asters, their mid-day sun-basked petals twisted in curls that can no longer unfurl.
I came across a spruce tree, denuded of bark on one side, and the contrast between the orange trunk and bark, the verdant bows, the snow crystals sparkling in the sun, and the tiny patches of blue sky peaking through the trees was pretty spectacular.
Several years ago I enjoyed this hike with Christine and Josh.
We spotted a Three-toed Woodpecker excavating a nest in a spruce. I decided to revisit the nest. The entrance hole was the same size but the cavity was huge. I saw several new holes a meter or so above the original, none completed, but clearly started this spring.
The wind was brisk sweeping down the valley, and when I stopped for lunch I chose the protection of a rocky outcrop and almost sat on this fossil - something like a brackipod?

There were few animals, a red squirrel and a least chipmunk were my only companions that day. I did see coyote tracks in the snow along a trail, all the prints in a straight row, which means the animal was moving briskly.

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