Strathcona Wilderness Institute

Exciting Wildlife & Hiking Reports

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A lot of activity in Strathcona Park this weekend! with lots of hiking & wildlife sightings. The SWI guided hike around the Lake Helen Mackenzie loop was enjoyed by kids, adults & one dog! The Comox District Mountaineering Club had several hikes in the park, from easy to extreme: including a weekend trip to the Comox Glacier, and a day hike to Indianhead Mountain on Forbidden Plateau.

Dozens of hikers went up Mt Albert Edward this weekend – the campsite at Circlet Lake was overflowing! although the Parks Facility Operators managed to keep everyone on low-impact sites. The Kwai Lake campsite is also a good choice for those attempting Mt Albert Edward, and is even better for exploring the numerous shorter trails near Kwai Lake.

Hikers coming out from Albert Edward reported many Vancouver Island White-tailed Ptarmigan on the high ridges. This rare sub-species endemic to Vancouver Island is being studied by researchers at the Centre for Alpine Studies at UBC . Dr. Kathy Martin would appreciate info on sightings: check the Centre website.

Hikers also reported a Vancouver Island Marmot near Castlecrag Mountain – a very exciting sighting! These endangered animals are making a comeback thanks to efforts at the Marmot Recovery Centre. The researchers would be happy to have reports of these animal sightings: check their website. Apparently a captive-born female was released at Sunrise Lake in Strathcona Park, north of Jutland Mountain, in 2010, and was joined by a male in 2012. The marmot seen by the hikers yesterday had no ear tag, so must have been one born in the wild – very good news!

Some interesting visitor numbers as well: the traffic counter at the Paradise Meadows trailhead counted 7500 visitors in August, and 5500 in July, according to the Parks Facility Operator. At the Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre, the volunteers for Strathcona Wilderness Institute assisted over 2700 visitors in August, and over 2500 in July – so between 1/3 to 1/2 of all Paradise Meadows visitors! The total assisted to date at the Centre is over 6000, including June visitors as well.

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