Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Usual Suspects

Saturday, May 23, 2009: A perfect late spring day, and I'm spending it the way I like best -- bashing around the Vancouver Island back country through bush and rock. That I am out with Mike, Jan, and Alan (a.k.a. the Usual Suspects) is an extra bonus.

On this day we decided to try a new route through the Sooke Hills Wilderness area. We took off from our usual spot on Sooke Road (up the road from the mailbox pull-off), hiked in and crossed Veitch Creek. We didn't stay on the usual route. Mike had sighted some new ribbons a few weeks previously and wanted to see where they led.

The route turned out to be an excellent one. We got some fine views from a height of land we had never been to before, and some excellent flower sightings. Ah, yes, nothing is so sweet as experiencing another Sooke Hills "lifer" (doing a new route for the first time).

The highlight of the day -- aside from finding and photographing the extremely rare Prairie Lupine, was the final ascent up to Secundus (the 2nd of the MacDonald "Bumps"). The views opened out over the Sooke Hills and the Juan de Fuca Strait as soon as we got out of the valley. And the sky -- a perfect jewel of blue overhead.

The day was warm, so we stopped under the spreading branches of a huge arbutus tree and took lunch and a breather. Alan went down to his skivvies, but the rest of us demurred.

Even though the day was glorious we saw nary another soul for the entire outing. The Sooke Hills Wilderness is really a gem -- I am surprised that more people don't simply disregard the ridiculous "keep out" signs erected by the Capital Regional District. The Usual Suspects gave those signs a big raspberry some years ago and, frankly, I couldn't be happier!

The view across to the Olympics      Prairie Lupine - Lupinus lepidus -- Close up     Spotted Coral Root

PS. I hope to once again become your faithful photo-correspondent. For the past two months I have let things slide as I got back into the swing of my university gig. I am all caught up now and can post a bit more frequently (at least until Sept).