For the past five years, people have been tiptoeing through the lilies high up on the San Juan Ridge behind Jordan River. Rare and unusual flowers, like the white avalanche lilies, are in profusion on the ridge as are those flowers that grow in the Alpine climate of the Kludahk.
“It’s an absolute treasure right here in the backwoods,” said Phoebe Dunbar, member of the Kludahk Outdoor Club and one of the organizers of the annual lily walk.
Those who take part in the walk will be joined by interpretive guides Adolf and Oluna Ceska and Hans Roemer.
“In the 1960s someone in our province wooed the best naturalists to our province,” said Dunbar. “They brought the best — they were courted.”
The Ceskas will lead a group on July 2 and Roemer on June 24.
Those who choose to take part in the San Juan Ridge walk have four dates and a number of options.
Outing options: Viewing lilies only near trail heads, for those not able to walk or hike far. Walks up to snowy meadows or hike through to the interpretative tea hut, some snow will still be on the trail.
“A lot of the day will be low key,” said Dunbar. “If you want to hike or get a lot of exercise you can do that.”
The walk is special. It’s up in the backcountry. Kludahk has been leading natural history walks up there for over 25 years. The white avalanche lilies (erythronium) on the ridge are rare in that they only grow in two places on the island, this being one of them. The lily show is usually stunning. For an added bonus you will see other wildflowers too – such as marsh marigold, fairy bells, mountain laurel, lily of the valley, wild raspberry, and maybe single delight, bog cranberry and queen’s cup.
•Kludahk Interpretative Tea Hut, travelling in groups west and east along the ridge trail through ancient hemlock forest, bog, meadows, for approximately four to five kilometres. Portions of the trail are adjacent to the lily ecological reserve created in 1976. Half this hike is up hill, a gain of 800’. One needs to be reasonably fit. Guides: naturalists and Kludahk members.
• San Juan Main walk through old growth forest and meadows – the slow walk for those who do not wish to hike more than a kilometre or so. Some open road and hiking trail.
Guides: naturalists and KOC members and others.
Adolf and Oluna Ceska are botanists/ mycologists with years of teaching, writings, and field experience here in B.C. associated with the Royal BC Museum, province of B.C. and the University of Victoria.
On July 2, the Ceskas will lead some walks up into the snow to search for the elusive snow mushroom.
Hans Roemer is well known throughout North America and Europe as a plant ecologist and botanist. He knows the ridge well and has had involvement with the ecological reserve program since the 1970’s. The lilies up on the ridge are protected in an ecological reserve established in 1976. Roemer has guided many visiting guests from North America to the San Juan and Jordan ridges identifying rare bog orchids, mosses and other flowers.
Members of the Kludahk Outdoors Club help host lily walks and hikes to support charitable causes in Sooke, Kludahk’s home town. This year funds will go towards the newly formed breast/ovarian cancer support program in Sooke. Any and all of the money raised will stay in Sooke.
Four Lily walks – San Juan Ridge – Sunday, June 24 and Sunday, July 2
Tuesday or Thursday evening June 26 or 28.
Register: Email or phone:firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-642- 4342 leave a message.
Cost: minimum $20 donation per person.
Transportation: Private vehicles – car pools will be arranged. Do not need 4 x 4 but do need good tires. Gravel roads – 10 to 12 miles to trail heads. Gas donations to drivers is expected – $10 per round trip.
Departure time: – 9 a.m. John Muir School June 24 and July 2, or 5 p.m. for evening walks. Please arrive at least 10 to 15 minutes before departure to sort out rides, and sign a waiver.
Bring: good hiking boots, lunch, snacks, drinking water, and a camera! Dogs okay if they do not frighten others and run amok.