Sunday, October 12, 2008

Barrier Lake and Stoney Trail - May 31, 2008

After watching a kayaking competition at Canoe Meadows, D and I decided to squeeze in just a short hike at Barrier Lake, opting to use Stoney Trail and Prairie View Trail to create a loop just over the dam.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Barrier Lake went from winter wonderland to springtime surprise in just under three weeks, and while we finally had snow-free trails to hike, I had to wonder where all that snow went so quickly:

But -- finally -- there was some colour to the mountains. And some first sightings of wildflowers. I'm really no expert beyond "purple ones" and "yellow ones", but I'm trying to learn what I'm seeing around me, so I looked these ones up. I believe this is called the Blue Clematis (Clematis occidentalis), from the buttercup family. I've sometimes seen them growing like vines up trees:

It didn't take long to discover we'd been right about the trails.... the snow may have been gone, but the area was still quite wet and muddy and the trails were not quite ready for the recreational season. The hikers would probably be ok, but the bikes were likely to sink right into the trail, and that's a surefire way to cause trail damage:

But it was still refreshing to see green everywhere. Because of the late thaw, spring was like an explosion this year. One week everything was still hidden away, and the next it was suddenly springtime. Trees went from bare to full leaves -- there never seemed to be a time in between:

I know even less about butterflies and other tiny creatures as I know about wildflowers. I used one of my hiking books for help on this one, but I could be wrong.... it looks similar to the "Alberta fritillary", but the body doesn't look quite right. This was the first butterfly we'd seen this spring (lots of caterpillars on the trail though!):

Barrier Lake Dam Recreational area is -- shockingly -- set beside the dam built in 1947. While there's some interesting history surrounding it (and it certainly only barely resembles the dams of today), it is also the main starting point of most Barrier Lake area trails. That long walk across the dam can get mighty hot in mid summer! But it also provided a nice view of the canyon on the opposite side of the dam, and maybe a vision into what once was when the water flowed freely through the canyon:


zhakee said...

Very pretty scenery. Your wilderness looks very wild. I greatly enjoy your scenery shots.

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Beautiful photographs! The Clematis is pretty... one of my favorite wildflowers out in the forests. They are hard to find as they love the shades and don't last long.
The butterfly is stunning!!
Mountain Retreat

Suzanne Perazzini said...

That's a good question - where does all the snow go?
And how quickly time passes. You'll be preparing for another winter now and yet more snow.

Michelle said...

Zhakee - thanks so much. Sometimes it's a little wilder than others!

Michele - it's a beautiful flower to spot on the trail. I actually see them more often right on the edge of the Rockies, in the foothills areas. I have a photo of one that grew to about 6 ft tall!

Suzanne - Hoping not to see winter for a few more weeks! It's too bad I fell behind in posting our hikes, but it's nice to revisit them now.

Springs are usually *very* muddy around here while the ground absorbs the melting snow, but this year it turned so quickly, I don't remember too much mud!