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.