As the previous winter’s snows melt up the hillsides of the Canadian Rockies, springtime follows close behind, even into the late summer. In a phenomenon not unique to the region, but perhaps more pronounced in the Columbia Mountains than mountain areas with less heavy snowfall, the wildflower season can last well into late August or even early September.
The Columbia Mountains, a subrange of the Rockies, is a freak of nature that reveals itself in many forms. The heart of this unique quality is the range’s precipitation patterns. The region receives enough annual precipitation to qualify as a rainforest, but most of it falls in the winter months in the form of snow - to the tune of 12 to 18 metres (40 to 60 feet) each winter, leaving the long, sunny, summer days to the flowers.
The Columbia River is the largest river in a region containing one of the world’s richest reserves of fresh water. As the deep snowbanks melt, armies of wildflowers bursting with every colour of the rainbow creep of the mountainsides, following the streams and trickles of the melting snow.
Even in the late summer, when the other legendary wildflower zones are dry, with their blooms long since faded, the flowers of the Columbia Range are quite often still in full glory.
Last week, during a photo shoot in the Bugaboos, I had a hard time keeping my lens out of the dew-soaked bouquet that spread all around us. By the end of each day, my knees were soaked, my memory cards full, and my optical nerves saturated with colour.
One morning, we were greeted with a dusting of fresh snow where the helicopter dropped us near treeline. It melted quickly under the bright alpine sun, leaving the blossoms even more brilliant than the day before.
Even the flowers surrounding the Bugaboo Lodge, while nurtured by human hands, were in full glory and formed a fanatsy-like foreground to sunrise on the famous Bugaboo Spires.
A photographer, Jeff Wendorff, who runs wildlife and landscape photo workshops was there to check out CMH Summer Adventures and decide if it was a good venue for a photo workshop. At the end of our three days together, I asked him if he thought the Bugaboos would work for his workshops.
Photographers interested in current photo workshops with CMH should visit our website. It is highly recommended that anyone booked on a CMH Summer Adventure bring the best camera they own with extra batteries and memory cards - it’s more beautiful than you think.
In honour of the Olympic Games kicking off this weekend in London, the good team at #FriFotos have chosen "The Best" as today's theme for the iconic Twitter photo chat. While we've been fortunate to host many an Olympic athlete at the CMH lodges over the years and feel we clearly have THE BEST mountain guides in the world on our team, I thought I'd dig out 5 of The Best Alpine Flower Photos from the last month to share today.
The CMH Summer Adventures season has gotten off to a great start and is now almost half over! We've had wonderful warm temperatures that have given life to the many varieties of wildflowers in the Columbia Mountain Range and the BC Rockies. Here are a few of those that have bloomed for us so far:
The White Pasqueflower in this photo by Bobbie Burns guide Carl Trescher is maybe one of my favourites because after it blooms it takes on a whole new form known to us as "Hippies on a Stick" as they look like shaggy dudes standing tall in the grasses.
The fragile and beautiful Moss Campion is a tiny collection of these lovely pink blooms. Guide and Photographer Lyle Grisedale must have a wonderful macro lens as they appear much larger in this photo than they are in real life:
This beautifully composed photo by Carl Trescher maybe one of my favourite flower shots ever. This very hearty Cinquefoil was found in a nook along the Mt. Nimbus Via Ferrata route.
Often confused with moss campion, Purple Saxifrage lives in similar terrain and is proving to be an early-bloomer this year. Lyle Grisedale captured this small bunch while heli-hiking in the Bugaboos:
For more great flower photos, and photos of our Summer Adventures, checkout our online photo gallery. And don't be afraid to tweet or share what you consider to be 'the best' of the collection!