Landowner Rights & Trail User Responsibilities

The Waskahegan Trail is a unique resource that exists only because of the generosity of landowners. Before you set foot on the trail, know the landowner rights and the trail user responsibilities.

Spotted Coral Root Orchid

Spotted Coral Root Orchid (Corallorhizea maculata) is a saprophyte, a plant that roots in dead material, symbiotically sharing its substrate with fungi. “Coral root” refers to the stubby roots looking like branched coral (Gadd 302).

Coral roots are sometimes referred to as ‘chicken-toes’ (Parish 282).

Saprophytes cannot be cultivated. Because of their dependency on decaying matter, coral roots will grow wherever dead material happens to be. In other words, this plant may be “abundant in one part of the forest floor one year and completely absent the next year” (Parish 282).

The term ‘spotted’ (maculate) refers to the spots seen on the flowers (Parish 283). Another distinctive feature is the lack of any green parts (leaves).


Sources:

  • Gadd, Ben. Handbook of the Canadian Rockies
  • Parish, Coupé, Lloyd. Plants of Southern Interior B.C.

WASKAHEGAN FIELD NOTES

Generally, wild orchids are a rare sight, found only in undisturbed environments. Aren’t we lucky to have the opportunity to walk—carefully—through their habitat! We found these orchids and took pictures in late June, along the Pipestone Creek trail, in a low-lying, moist area of otherwise dry north-facing slope of the creek’s valley.

FYI: These “seepage slopes” occur throughout forests on hillsides where the water table is curved downward as in large river valleys or where the water bearing sand/gravel layers come to the surface for other reasons (artesian seeps). A large agricultural field which slopes into a river valley is also prone to have runoff during rainy weather. North facing slopes are the wettest otherwise because they have the lowest solar input to keep things dry. (Jerry Shaw)

 

Ministik Hike: Mossy Muskeg and Fabulous Fungi

Eleven people came out to hike the trail in the Ministik Bird Sanctuary. Except for chickadees and some downy woodpeckers, the birds weren’t making themselves obvious. Instead, the natural treasures we observed were the moss-covered muskeg and peat bog, an enormous variety of well-developed fungi, and a patch of yellow rattle.

Three of the hikers took the “Smell the Roses” route to see the yellow rattle, a “pretty wildflower that attaches to grass roots and suppresses their growth enabling wildflowers to flourish in grass lawns and meadows” (wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com).

The other eight followed the trail that led to Horseshoe Lake. Early on, we reached the muskeg section—an old spruce forest with ground covered in a thick, delicate layer of moss punctuated with ferns and Labrador tea bushes. We stepped through carefully on the straight path and came out to a spongy patch of pure peat moss, where blueberries and other uncommon plants grow.

This whole area is obviously sensitive to footsteps. Our Trail Maintenance and Permissions coordinators are currently working to get permission to reroute the trail around the area. This will protect the beauty of the landscape and should enable us to use the trail in wet seasons.

Here are just some of the fungi we saw on this hike:

Thanks to Anita and Jerry for leading the hike and to trail maintenance for their efforts in staking out the proposed new reroute. You can see more photos on Flickr.

Saunders Lake Berry Hike

This hike was designed for the berry season, but it seemed fall in the middle, between saskatoons and chokecherries. Nevertheless, elderberries are in full swing and highbush cranberries are not far behind.

Five people came out to enjoy this trail that runs alongside the lake, alternating between meadow and woodlands. Below is the prize we’ve been waiting to see all summer—a spectacular giant puffball.

 

Thanks to Stella for leading this hike and to trail maintenance for clearing the trail. You can find more photos on Flickr.