Trip Report – Exploring for spring in the Upper Squamish Valley, March 25, 2018

The elk herd was grazing right beside the road in the Squamish Nation lands! The previous week I had found elk droppings way up at High Falls Trails.

I was exploring the habitats at the confluence of the Ashlu River with the Upper Squamish area and the base of High Falls Trail. On the north slopes of the Tantalus Range there were fresh snow patches almost to the valley floor. The 1 C° temperature and grey sky suggested more snow to come and the false lily-of-the-valley plants (and others) were cautiously unfurling their leaves.

There is a great little moss, rather large for a moss, that I was happy to discover in a side channel of the Upper Squamish, as the water level was low enough to tread. Although not uncommon, streamside moss (Scouleria aquatica) was new to me. It is very dark green, quite black in fact, and the wet leaves spread out at right angles to the branched stems.  The strong black rhizoids were holding on extremely tightly to their substrate of large, quite stable rocks.

Only a few days before I had been on Mt Wells outside Victoria, where the satin flowers are in full bloom, forming carpets over the rocky knolls where the arbutus and garry oak grow, and there were little monkey flowers and blue-eyed Mary’s in bloom. Geographically not far away, the habitats are so different, yet both are exciting and distinctive!

Judith Holm

Photo: False lily of the valley plants beginning to unfurl their leaves along the Upper Squamish River.