Now that I was in the heart of Taku country, I wanted to explore a little.
Upon my arrival, I noticed two things right away. First, fall was at least a week behind Whitehorse. Second, I was in a type of forest I wasn't used to. Devil's club grew all over the place and the trees and plants were huge! Even plants that I was familiar with were bigger than I thought normal. The high bush cranberries and saskatoon berries seemed gigantic!
What Adam used to cover himself: a big leaf. Or was that a fig leaf? I'm pretty sure it wasn't devil's club - there are spikes on the bottoms of those leaves!
Devil's club! Spikey!
Near where I stayed, a couple of trappers (who I will introduce another time) have built a beautiful cabin. I took a walk down one of their traplines and came across a couple of wolverine traps. You don't want a wolverine to start raiding your trapline because, if it does, you'll never find anything in your traps ever again.
A wolverine trap.
A marten trap.
Near the lake, was an abandoned, mostly-drained beaver pond. The pond was formerly a large one, but the beavers had eaten themselves out of house and home. They moved on and the dam collapsed.
A formerly large beaver pond.
The lodge sits high and dry.
The lodge, with an entrance big enough for a man.
Broken beaver dam.
The pond, abandoned except for a few birds.
Around the beaver pond, I found what looked like a sink hole. Actually, I'm not sure what it was. It looked very out of place.
Near the "sinkhole", I found three clear, clear ponds. I began to wonder if they weren't springs. The mountain to the south was made of limestone and the springs sat over a fault line, so it wouldn't surprise me.
Is it a spring?
Beaver pond and the limestone mountain.
The more I walked, the more I was impressed with the size of the flowers and berries and trees. Here, fall was at least a week behind Whitehorse and maybe more.
Seed pods on the end of a cow parsnip.
A big head of flowers.
The lake we were at is known to have some big game, including grizzly bears. The salmon were spawning and the grizzlies were at the other end of the lake to feed on the salmon.
Surveying the lake for game.
I took a hike one evening to go to the top of the limestone mountain. The trees on the way up were big, rising out of a carpet of moss. The trees quickly thinned as the slope increased.
A big tree with a big burl (that's my bear spray, camera and knife hanging from the burl).
I had to keep track of the light. It was starting to set and I didn't want to get caught up the mountain in the dark.
It starts to get dark.
The view gets good.
Looking over the lake.
Cabin on the lake.
Beautiful hiking ahead.
The colours of sunset appear on the lake.
Just can't get enough of that view.
The top of the ridge was covered in moss and trees. I walked over the crest to see the view on the other side, but it was obscured by the trees and another ridge. Instead of retracing my route, I opted to follow the ridge down to the abandoned beaver pond.
It was easy to walk along the ridge. There was little deadfall and underbrush to worry about, and the grade wasn't as steep as the way up. The sun was now behind the mountains and the ridge was shrouded in dusk.
On the way to the beaver pond, about halfway down the ridge, I came across a strange hole. The ground along the ridge was relatively uniform except for this pit. It wasn't in a low spot and, judging by the moss covering, has been there for a while. It just seemed very out of place.
The mystery hole.
Near the pit was this potential tasty meal:
If I'd had my slingshot, I might have had dinner.
Overlooking the remains of the beaver pond.
The sky almost looks like it has been painted.
I made it down to the beaver pond and back along the lake before I lost the light completely. My timing couldn't have been better.
One morning, there was an unusual mist rising from the lake. I've heard that the mist sometimes rises like strings. While it's possible they're caused by a difference in temperature between the cold air and a spring-fed lake, I've also heard that they're the spirits of Tlingit ancestors, dancing along the lake. I like the second explanation a lot better.
Casting a few lines while the spirits dance.
The mist still dances, even after the sun rises.
I got the chance to go for another hike while we waited for the float plane. This time, I trotted up the mountain behind where we were staying. First, I had to find my way through a maze of devil's club.
The sun was out and it was beating down. The rocks on this mountain were darker and I could feel the heat radiating out of them as I climbed. I found a perfect wild strawberry. There were saskatoon plants blanketing some sections of the mountain, and moose highways running perpendicular to the slope. If I hadn't had to be back in time for the plane, I would have kept exploring the mountain. Even though I only had a couple of hours, I still got to take in some amazing views.
Golden leaves sway in the breeze.
I wonder if anybody has ever climbed that one...
A cloud, not wanting to let go of a mountain.
Fall colours begin to make their appearance.
More snowpack on more mountains.
A blanket of trees on a lumpy bed of rocks.
Looking down at the lake and the ridge I hiked up the night before.
Looking down the lake.
The mountain I hiked up the night before with a very intriguing limestone wall behind it...
Oh, if only I'd brought some climbing gear!
I didn't make it to the top of the mountain, but I made it high enough that I could see over the trees and get a good idea of the lay of the land. And what a land it is!
More mountain-hugging clouds.
I didn't have a watch with me, but figured it was time to head back down to the lake. I found a route that avoided the devil's club and made it back in time to catch the plane. But that's an entry for another day...