orchid hunting

by underswansea


Went looking for orchids this evening. They have widened and extended a road into an area I like to roam. The roadwork was done at the end of winter. Logging companies do this when the ground is still frozen. After the thaw, when the moisture is out of the ground the road will firm up and it will be able to sustain the heavy equipment needed to log the steep terrain.

The mountain has been logged before. My guess was during the 1970’s Most of the old cutblocks have started to grow back. The logging companies, presumably, have their eye set on some of the unlogged areas. There is plenty of large fir, pine and tamarack.

The mountain is home to several types of wild orchids. Franklin, Mountain and Venus’s Lady’s Slippers are easy to find if you know where and when to look. They are also easy to miss by a few days on either side of when they bloom. After they bloom they seem to disappear back into the lush forest floor.

There is still snow at low elevations where I find the first Calypso Orchids. The Calypso Bulbosa or Venus’s Slipper is the earliest of the wild mountain orchids. It blooms at the same time as climbing Clematis. Since Clematis is easier to find I tend to look for it first. Once I see it climbing the trees I turn my eyes downward to look for the small purple orchids.

I would like to try to find a few before the logging starts, which I suspect will be soon. It is disappointing the area will be logged, but it is also necessary. The pine has become infested with the pine beetle and is starting to die, turning patches of the mountain the color of rust.

It is also necessary for jobs. Logging is one of the few family sustaining jobs left in the Valley where the tourism industry and corporate ownership, has rendered most employment be done at minimum wage or just slightly better. It seems some of the families that have been here the longest suffer these changes the hardest.

Regardless, it’s difficult to watch. With luck they will be complete by fall and growth will start again.

The creek beds are still full of snow. There was no sign of Clematis blooms climbing the fir or spruce. The dogs had their noses in the air sniffing grouse and rodents. The bears are out, busting rotten stumps, yet not frisky enough to worry about. All the while the orchids stayed hid. Sometimes I envy them, if that is possible.