Alberta Wanderings

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cohan
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Okay, back at it!Leaving Abraham Lake, the highway continues on through the Kootenay Plains, into Banff National Park;full album: https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/AlbertaRockyMountainsMay312011...

   

A stop I've made before, by a small 'lake' where just a bit later the ground will be carpeted with tiny Primula mistassinica, dotted with Saxifraga aizoides, and others... This time, Primula only in bud, in small numbers, and Sax just emerging...

 

The lake, the grass giving way to woods beyond the water, and a closer view of the soil-- I believe this is what I see referred to in wildflower books when they say things like 'wet calcareous soil' as they do for P mistassinica.....

   

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

cohan
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Full album:https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/AlbertaRockyMountainsMay312011...

This schoolbus was in front of us for a while, then pulled into a group campsite in the Kootenay Plains... after we'd continued on deep into the mountains and passed back through this area on the way home, we were on the trails at the nearby  Siffleur Falls Staging Area, when out of nowhere a pack of young teenagers on bicycles passed us! After, we saw them just up the road turning into the same campground--so that's who was on that bus!

This one is for Trond-- a very non-Norwegian highway!

Just because its one of the very few places on our route where we could stop for refreshments, we usually do stop at the Saskatchewan River Crossing, just at the junction of the David Thompson Highway and the Icefields Parkway, for some seriously overpriced (and under 'qualitied' ) cafeteria treats .... What a place to have a summer job though!

 

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

cohan
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Continuing on and up-- full album: https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/AlbertaRockyMountainsMay312011...

The fresh greens of emerging leaves.....

 

Best not to think about all that rock and gravel poised above the road, with signs that warn  "No Stopping, Avalanche Zone"..biggest risk is no doubt in winter, when I absolutely don't travel here ;)

Finally the road climbs up, and up, and up! and levels out more or less, not too far from the tree line, and up in the snow zone.. there is a viewpoint to look back down where you have come from - an impressive view, which I have photographed in the past- but of course I'm busier running around looking for plants! I've seen some nice things around here, but its a bit early-- just Salix, and the two plants in flower on this day from home all the way up here-- Taraxacum and Fragaria! only on the sunny side of some gravel banks, still snow around in shade...

   

   

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

cohan
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Continuing on to the Icefields..(same album) https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/AlbertaRockyMountainsMay312011...

The snow is close here!

I always like seeing this stripey zebra mountains, though there is a bit more to the white stripes at this time of year!

Another one for Trond- highway still is not bad up here, though much narrower than the earlier road, and not easy to pass when you get a slow bus or RV in front of you that has a hard time on the inclines! Just slow down and enjoy the view :)

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

Hoy
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Joined: 2009-12-15

A tremendous landscape! And your roads are incredible :o

Trond Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

cohan
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And no ferries on the whole trip!

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

RickR
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Joined: 2009-09-21

Cohan, there's LOTS to study, envy and think about in those photos.  Like the grass fields by the lake: you mention Primula mistassinica growing in calareous soil...so is the lake water up there basic?  I suppose.  I never really thought about it until now.  Down here I have only seen the primula in what is at least mildly acidic conditions.  There is one place I know of where the primula habitat is similarly bathed in water from Lake Superior. 

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

cohan
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RickR wrote:

Cohan, there's LOTS to study, envy and think about in those photos.  Like the grass fields by the lake: you mention Primula mistassinica growing in calareous soil...so is the lake water up there basic?  I suppose.  I never really thought about it until now.  Down here I have only seen the primula in what is at least mildly acidic conditions.  There is one place I know of where the primula habitat is similarly bathed in water from Lake Superior. 

Rick, I have to confess my knowledge of the soils and waters is limited at best,  I need to try to find a good book on the geology of the province! Meanwhile if I make any egregious errors, Lori can set me straight (obviously she doesn't know this site, but the Alberta Rockies in general) ;)... I have not yet looked up these species in Flora of Alberta to see what they say, but I have an old book: "Rocky Mountain Wildflowers" (Porsild) which says- "in wet calcareous soil by pond margins or in wet meadows" so it doesn't seem the calcareous sites are obligate.. Again, I am no expert on these soils, but this site seemed to me like it would be calcareous-- the soil is very  light in colour, mixed with gravel, and very little humus.. I assume at least some of this soil is rock flour from the mountains around, which should be (predominantly? entirely?) limestone...

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

cohan
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Okay, still on May 31!

https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/AlbertaRockyMountainsMay312011...

We arrive at the Columbia Icefield, where the attraction is the glacier, with a massive tourist centre across the road (hotel, restaurants, gift shop, I think, I've never gone in, way too busy even on this weekday in late May (though doubtless much less busy than peak days), a trail that leads up to the glacier's edge ( the trail is kind of fun, great views, great rocks, and of course interesting to see the early colonising plants close to the glacier), but my interest is farther back, in among and on the moraines left behind by the gradual retreat of the glacier..These plant communities seem to have arisen very slowly--despite being below the tree line, there are, at most, a few small stunted (spruce, fir?) and not even that in most of the area..There are markers along the trail showing where the glacier was in which year, and I haven't worked it out exactly (nor do I know how evenly it retreated) but the century mark isn't too far from this area, and I think it must at least be many decades since this section was under the ice-- progress is slow!!

   

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

cohan
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Joined: 2011-02-03

I wasn't sure if there would be much plant activity so early (there was still snow around, and other places where it had clearly melted recently) but I was hoping-- on a visit about a month later last year, there were things that had already finished flowering...I was to be pleasantly surprised...

full album: https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/AlbertaRockyMountainsMay312011...

The most conspicuous plant at this time was Arctostaphylos (Arctous) rubra visible for some distance on the nearly bare gravel (some things not yet leafed out, or barely emerging)...

 

This is very funny-- on previous visites, I had admired the good sized mats of this plant, admiring this stemless (or nearly) willow with the beautiful leaves! I was never early enough till now to see flowers, nor apparently was I ever there at the right time for berries! So when I saw the sweet little creamy urn flowers, I was quite stunned... Of course to see it at this season must be among its finest moments, the spring colour was glorious... I have not been there for fall colour ( though I saw some Arctous in fall colour once across the parking lot, must have been A alpina, much smaller leaves, and I had not realised there were two alpine species, so never thought to question this plant)..I now really want to grow this!

     

Some plants were later, with only flowers, leaves not yet showing, or just starting...

 

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

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