Mount Kobau

Photo by Cathy Lahaie

The Mount Kobau outing was a wonderful trip.  We savoured the experience long after we were finished.  We arrived early; Lee Mcfayden, our tour guide, arrived on time.  While we waited, we immediately began exploring the side of the road and were rewarded with an incredible variety of flowers.  Some that we had seen before, others not.  The trip itself became one of admiring flowers and discovering ones that we as a group had not seen before.  To name a few, the Thompson Paintbrush that looks nothing like its cousin the Indian Paintbrush; it has a greenish white upper part and we were told by Lee that it is unique to this area.  The Silverleaf Phacelia, the Siberian Elm, an introduced species of trees, Narrow-leaved Collomia, Single Flower Broomrape, a parasitic flower blooming amongst the Round leaved Alumroot, Hillside Milk Vetch, pink and white bitterroot (first time this season), and white Penstemons, all were an awesome treat for us.  This was one of those rare moments that you could immerse yourself in an explosion of colour and become part of a painter’s canvas.
Lee, always a fountain of information, told us the story of Mount Kobau.  It is referred to as the “Million dollar road that goes nowhere.” There were big plans for Mount Kobau, elevation 1873 metres (6145 ft.)  It was chosen to be the site of a large astronomical observatory.  The proposed telescope was to cost $15—$17 million.  The 381metre (150 in.) optical telescope would be the second largest in the world and it was to be named the Queen Elizabeth II Observatory.  Such plans did not materialize because the cost kept rising.  So today all that is left is a proper size road which makes the going up relatively easy.
As we continue up Lee pointed out water leaking from the rock and explained how man changes the environment.  In building the road the groundwater was exposed; and thus, the water now runs down the rocks and along side the road.  A simple observation that would have gone unnoticed unless someone pointed it out.
The road goes up and up until the top is reached.  With each gain in elevation the flora changed; beginning with the Thompson’s Paintbrush and ending with Spring Beauty and Sagebrush Bluebells at the top. The last two flowers, we saw a month ago in the White Lake to Mahoney Lake trip.  That’s what made this trip so exciting!  It was like an archaeological trip in reverse.
The area higher up had been devastated by forest fires, but new growth was evident.  We found a picnic table at the parking lot and had lunch before we hiked to the top.  At the top we had a splendid view of the surrounding area and the views continue to be stunning as we made our way down.  At the end, we felt self-satisfied, felt that we had learned much, seen a lot, and just enjoyed the camaraderie.

Photo by Mary Masiel