Thirteen eager RM Nats braved a variety of weather elements on their journey up to the top of the Dutch Creek Hoodoos. A bounty of spring crocuses along with a multitude of other plants including pussy toes, balsam root, prairie sage, pasture sage, wild onion and buffaloberry (Soopolallie) lined our gradual upward journey. Once at the top of the saw-toothed ridges of the hoodoos breathtaking views, even with the billowing clouds, could be seen in every direction. Our very knowledgeable leader Daryl explained how the hoodoos were formed thousands of years ago and the composition of them. A narrow, sandy path wound its way along the rim of the hoodoos providing spectacular views down the sheer ravines to Dutch Creek far below while in the distance Columbia Lake glistened in the occasional sunburst. We were delighted to spot Canada Geese, Turkey Vultures, Osprey, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-Tailed Hawk, Northern Flicker, Clark’s Nutcracker, Common Raven, Black-Capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, Townsend’s Solitaire, Common Loon, Bald Eagle, Tree Swallows, Brewer’s Blackbirds, various waterfowl as well as an abundance of Kestrels and Western Meadowlarks.
From the Dutch Creek Hoodoos we proceeded to the source of the mighty Columbia River at Canal Flats. An easy stroll along a path lined with poplars, spruce and willows afforded views of huge boggy areas covered in grassy hummocks and undergrowth including budding birches and red-osier dogwood stems. We contemplated the difficulties which David Thompson must have encountered as his party portaged south to the Kootenay River 200 years earlier. At the edge of the woods, a series of springs formed little channels which converged and flowed to the North. Large patches of cattails, water grasses and roses grew in profusion throughout this area. The streams flowing out to the lake were crystal clear and by the abundance of tracks along their edges, provide drinking water for the many animals that frequent this area. At this area we added Ruffed Grouse, Dark-Eyed Junco, Killdeer, American Robin and Red-Winged Blackbird to our list of birds.
The perfect ending for our day was spotting an osprey with a fish held in its talons looking for a place to have its lunch as well as field after field of shooting stars in full bloom creating a magenta carpet along the roadside at Skookumchuck Prairie.
Submitted by Paula Rogers