The clouds lifted for us, as if by request, when eight Vermilion Forks Field Naturalist members hiked up to Palmer’s Pond on Saturday, October 3rd. The ceiling was low when we set out on the trail near Jacobsen Lake and made our way up the well-marked route used by Hudson’s Bay Brigades over 150 years ago. Led by Ed Staples and Nienke Klaver, we ascended through the thick forest of healthy conifers, splashed with colour by the golden leaves of aspens. Once we reached sub-alpine terrain the white pines were sprinkled with snow and the ground cover was vivid with red-hued huckleberry bushes amongst the ubiquitous mountain-heather. The path was muddy in places and the temperature chilly when the wind blew, but we gloried in the views, particularly as the skies cleared when we reached our destination. Palmer’s Pond is situated near the Cascade Divide, and sits at the edge of a sheer drop, with magnificent mountains across the valley and beyond.
Although we were on the trail for a total of six hours, much of that time was spent searching for fossils, enjoying a leisurely lunch and identifying mushrooms, which are plentiful at this time of year. Peter was elated to find a King Bolete, an especially flavoursome fungi. We spotted bear and coyote scat, as well as the fresh moose tracks of a cow and calf. Our descent was marked by spontaneous song and laughter, while the sun shone upon us fully when we finally returned to our vehicles.