Thursday, August 21, 2014

Grassi Lakes Trail


After driving from our campground at Macleod Meadows through the rest of Kootenay National Park the morning of July 8, we headed south to Canmore and hiked the Grassi Lakes trail in the mountains above Canmore.   The trail had been recommended by a friend as a good place to see native orchids and we found five different species, but enjoyed the hike for other the wonderful views of the valley below, the lakes, the other wildflowers, and the simply joy of being out and hiking, though the day was very hot and dry.  We could almost smell the heat but had plenty of water and sunscreen along, so we did not suffer unduly.

The trail begins near a reservoir which continues to be part of the view as the trail climbs.
The town of Canmore is also in view.



The first part of the trail, however, in in the trees.
It was there we saw most of the orchids:

Frog Orchid or Long-bracted green Orchis,





Large Northern Yellow Lady's Slipper,



Sparrow's-egg Lady's Slipper
(the only one's we saw on this trip, since most were finished),



Small Round-leaf Orchis,
an orchid that is not found in Washington state,




a few Blunt-leafed Rein Orchis,


and some Estes Hybrid Rein Orchis.


There is a spectacular waterfall along the trail but it seems to be unnamed.



There were not a lot of wildflowers blooming, but we found and photographed a few:

a yellow Composite that I haven't identified,



Gold Columbine,


 Wood Lily,


 Harsh Paintbrush,


Common Butterwort, a carnivorous plant,
in one place growing with the Small Round-leaf Orchis,


and Death Camas.


The higher we went the more spectacular were the views down the valley.



At the top of the trail were Lower Grassi Lake and its outlet;










and Upper Grassi Lake, separated from the lower lake by only a few feet of elevation.




The trail continues above the lakes and along a sheer cliff where climbers were practicing.




Not far from where we saw the climbers there were some old Indian pictographs,
but they were nearly obscured.

The views continued to be spectacular as we followed the trail up to its end.






We followed a service road and another trail down,
and treated ourselves to an iced coffee at Starbucks back in Canmore.

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