On an early fall day, TLC staff Andrew MacKinnon and Torrey Archer joined CRD Conservation Specialist Todd Golumbia, CRD Park Volunteer Warden Rich Mably and Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) staff member Barb von Sacken for a tour of the trails in the Sea to Sea Mt. Manuel Quimper park in Sooke.
The hike started off at the Harbouview Road entrance to the network of trails that lead up to and around Mt. Quimper. The mountain is well known by hikers and is the site of one of the last used fire lookout towers on Vancouver Island. Built in 1951, the cabin still stands today and is a great lunch spot for weary hikers! There are no facilities here though so we remind people to abide by the usual back country rule of “pack it in; pack it out”.
On the way up the hill the group saw a multitude of mushrooms. Loving the wet weather with mild temperatures, fall on B.C.’s coast is truly a fungiphile’s paradise. One of the species found that day was in the genus Lactarius, so called for its milky exudate that seeps from its flesh when cut. It’s common name is “milk cap”, and rightfully so. Other species seen include Russula, Suillus, the sulfur tuft and deer mushrooms! Many more were seen but not identified – maybe one day we will bring a mycologist with us!
Working their way steadily uphill, the crew were treated to gorgeous views of the Sooke Basin with clouds up above and below. Thankfully the rain held off long enough to get a few good photos.
The chosen trail took them directly up the face of the mountain, then snaked down the backside to meet up with other trails. There was a stark difference in forest type on the way up compared to the way down; drier conditions on the way up were demonstrated by lots of Scotch broom and open mossy rocks, whereas the way down had cedar trees and thick salal. It’s always interesting to notice the subtle differences found in just a few steps away from one area to the next. Nature has a way of creating and using microclimates – the smallest amount of trapped moisture can result in cascading effects like different species of plants growing, which in turn attract different species of insects, which attract different birds, and so on. It might be easy to characterize all the green space we see as the same, but when you look closely you realize that no forest is the same as another.
The hike proved to be beneficial not only to “test drive” the new signage recently erected by the CRD, but also for each organization to share how they monitor areas, what tools they use, what has worked and what has not. All of this better streamlines our approaches to effective conservation, and TLC is very grateful to be able to share such important work with such respectable folks.
After 7+ hours, 560 m elevation gain and 11 km, the crew had seen all they could of the Mt. Quimper region in one day. We highly encourage our readers to get out there and see it for themselves, especially while the mushrooms are still fruiting! Enjoy; we sure did.
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