Climbing and Being Climbed

There are little leaps and big leaps, little walks and big walks.

I like the idea of “keep on walking”, day after day, farther away.

There are people who do that, and I don’t know if it ever will be me. I haven’t even gone on overnight hikes for a few years. Not that I can’t. Maybe it’s because my little walks are so enjoyable, too.

This morning I walked to the outhouse through a path of roses—petals on the path and the rose bushes along it up to my waist. Well, how smelly can my outhouse be when surrounded by the scent of roses?

Then there are the creatures one meets, big and little.

Once I met a bear on my morning walk to the outhouse. I actually walked towards it wondering what that dark log was in my woods. I threw my coffee in the air and ran for the house: maybe not the best response.

Today I looked way up in the poplars and 40 feet up there was a Western peewee family in a nest on a big horizontal branch.

Lately I have also gone on lots of day hikes. Besides all the little treasures, there is always something of a grand scale, like last Tuesday when there were big wind storms.

We went up Kusawa Ridge, feeling we could fly if we tried, but I had to crawl up the mountain on all fours, not to be blown off.

It was glorious on the mountain, with a flock of some 40 sheep, and the blue lake below full of whitecaps.

We crawled with our noses close to the ground, right into the little alpine flowers.

And two weeks ago, after 20 years of looking at Frog Mountain, I finally got to hike it.

Frog Mountain is the one at the end of the Takhini Hotsprings Road, the one that stands there on it is own in the middle of where the wide Takhini River valley enters the Yukon River valley.

Although local people know it as Frog Mountain, and a music festival was named after it, the name is not officially-recognized.

We went at it from the south side, canoeing across the Takhini River to get to the base of it. The river was high and on the way back we took our time to have a very enjoyable paddle.

My partner, a seasoned canoeist, knew how and where to paddle upstream quite easily.

Have you ever looked at the mountains when you do that? They seemed to be the ones floating by! Now that’s big, when mountains move.

On the bank below the mountain we were greeted by the biggest wild daisies (fleabanes, erigerons) I had ever seen. We walked westward through the open forest, where the roses were blooming.

From far off, one can see that Frog Mountain is composed of separate… plutons (forgive me when I am wrong). Is this mountain a batholith? Like some other mountains along Laberge Lake, it seems to have bubbled up from the ground.

Coming to the boulders at the foot of the mountain, we followed a line that seemed to end at the lower of the two bulging eyes of the frog that form the top. And, as we had hoped, we only had to dip down a few times on our path up.

The incline was perfect, the cracks in the bare rock full of gardens. I saw some things—I say “things” because they hardly look like flowers—I had never seen, like broom rape and ground cone.

The ground cone indeed looks like a cone, with yellow scales for leaves and purple scales for flowers.

There was also golden sedge (Carex Aurea), a little clump of grass with tiny golden globes. I didn’t photograph it, because I didn’t think I could ever positively identify a grass, but I did.

The view looking down surprised me: the Takhini River shown in its greatest glory, not like a ribbon in the far distance, but like a snake wriggling right by our feet.

Another surprise made me a little sad, but let’s not get political here. It was the amounts of clear cuts for agriculture. If you are a farmer, I am sure you would enjoy this view.

On the other side from the top we viewed Flat Mountain and beyond, through the big trees of the heavily forested north side of the mountain.

As with most mountaintops that are right in the treeline, there is a variety of trees growing here together—alder, pine and spruce all side-by-side.

It was a leisurely walk down, over the bedrock and through grassy dips.

As we came through a gully where we had to climb over and under some trees, we came out in yet another little field of flowers, this one white and yellow, with the beautiful brightest blue of the fringed gentian.

And as the weather was more beautiful than predicted, we lay down to rest in the sun.

A few days after climbing the “big frog”, when the weather had really warmed up, we lay down in the grass again, this time by the 911 Pond.

That day the dragonflies came out, too, but I don’t know if that’s the reason there were no mosquitoes.

And who were there? The frogs!

I had been hearing them singing in April and now the grass was full of adults and babies.

After our recent hike, it seemed appropriate to strip naked and wade through the wet swamp grass catching frogs in the cups of our hands—and let them climb us!

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