Trip Report – Yuko’s Ponds, Saturday September 23, 2017

Perfect weather and knowledgeable participants contributed to a fascinating hike to Yuko’s Ponds, above the Sea to Sky Gondola, along the Habrich Ridge Trail. The Yuko’s Ponds area was named by Robin Barley for Yuko Iwanaga, the violinist who founded and leads the Sea to Sky Orchestra.  She is a keen hiker and rock climber and enjoys the trails above the gondola.

Along the route, we compared the taste and features of various blueberry and huckleberry (Vaccinium) species.  In brief, 5 species grew alongside our route.  They are listed in rough approximation of typical comparative elevations where they grow, the last mentioned the lowest elevation.

  • blue-leaved blueberry (Vaccinium deliciosum)
  • black huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum)
  • oval-leaved blueberry (Vaccinium ovalifolium)
  • Alaskan blueberry (Vaccinium alaskaense)
  • red huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium)

Most of Yuko’s Ponds are vernal: they dry up during the summer and can have interesting plant species adapted to these difficult conditions. During our visit, the largest pond still held water.  It was surrounded by fluffy cotton-grass (which is actually a sedge), bog laurel leaves, and sphagnum moss. The dragonflies that had earlier been so plentiful earlier in the year were gone.  This seems good spring habitat for amphibians.

On the Biodiversity Squamish Facebook Group page Stephan Perron had posted,  “I have not seen a single amabilis fir cone in the Gondola Summit area this year. I had observed several trees with cones in previous years. I am puzzled. Anybody see any of those beautiful purple upright cones elsewhere?”  Therefore we made it a special focus to look for these cones, since our route took us past many large amabilis fir. Being a true fir, the cones are upright, grow at or near the top of the tree and disintegrate on the tree.  We too spotted nary a cone.

Biodiversity Squamish Facebook Group is becoming an active place for sharing information and questions about our local flora and fauna.  If you would like to join the group, click on “join group” or write biodiversity.squamish@gmail.com.  It is associated with our iNaturalist project, Biodiversity Squamish, and You are most welcome to participate in the project itself.  Simply search for https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/biodiversity-squamish and click on http://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help to get answers to your questions and make it easy for you to learn how to get started.

It was really nice to run across Christopher Di Corrado and Jin Yew Loh, who joined us for the time at the ponds. The very welcome warm sunshine, fall colours and great views led some of us to linger longer up high.

Participants:  Leona Murray, Carl Halvorson, Kevin Nold, Vanessa Isnardy, Judith Holm

Compiled by Judith Holm with Vanessa Isnardy

Photo above by Vanessa Isnardy: Judith, Kevin, Carl and Leona, with Howe Sound below