Trip Report – Panorama Trail (Sea to Sky Gondola)

Prepared by Trip Leader Judith Holm

 20 naturalists connected on this sunny, summer day to explore the transition zone between low and higher elevation coastal forest. Represented were several Squamish groups with a focus on nature, a youth, a Gondola employee and visitors from Switzerland and Holland. It seemed very welcome to have this chance to visit with people we’d been wanting to contact and here they were in person!

Coloured handouts supported our comparison of trees at this transition from the Coastal Western Hemlock Zone to the Mountain Hemlock Zone, where both can be found. We also compared several shrubs and discovered additional treasures, including a Brown Creeper.

Some observations:

  • Western Hemlock needles are different lengths and the undersides of the needles are noticeably whiter. Mountain Hemlock needles are the same length, more crowded and all around the stem. Top and bottom are similar in colouring.
  • Shore Pine (the coastal variety of Lodgepole Pine) needles are in bundles of 2. Western White Pine needles are in bundles of 5.
  • Red Cedar needles are yellowish-green, shiny and scale-like. Their branches curve up the tips. Yellow Cedar needles are bluish-green, duller, and also scale-like.  Their branches curve down at the tips and their branchlets hang limply.
  • Douglas fir needles are yellowish-green, often with pointed tips. Amabilis Fir (Pacific Silver Fir) needles are dark green, with blunt tips. With the Amabilis Fir,  shorter needles along the branch top lie flatter against the twig and point forward toward the tip. 

Plant list