Nuk Tessli: Gentian Valley Part 1

Canoe trainThe main focus of our Nuk Tessli trip was to see rare alpine plants in Gentian Valley.  Doron, the man who bought Nuk Tessli from me, would take us up the lake with his motor canoe, but we would need two canoes to get home.  Badger was too stiff and old to pack so we left him at the cabins.  Harry rode in my canoe.

The man standing on the dock is Chris Harris who has a great photography blog.  I have known Chris for years – this is his second visit to Nuk Tessli.

Doron fired the motor,

Doron Erel

And we were away!

Nuk Tessli lake

We portaged into the upper lake.  The wind was really wild – great for keeping the bugs away, but very hard to canoe against.

We climbed through a series of meadows (that is Nuk Tessli lake below).

cotton grassIt was very hard to get Doreen past the patches of paintbrush.

common red paintbrushNot only did Doron help us up the lake, he also provided some of his young helpers to carry a lot of our gear.  From the left: Janiv, Ishay, Patricia, and Doreen.

4 our portersAt last we climbed high enough to see our destination.  Gentian Valley is tucked below the highest peak.

gentian valleyAs we crossed the creek in the foreground, we had a lovely view west.

common red paintbrush and coast rangeSoon we reached our camp.

7 campThe wind grew stronger during the night.  I had my own tent, and was awakened at first light be Doreen as the tent that Doron had left them had collapsed.  The fly had ripped right down one side, and the plastic connector for the poles had snapped.  Fortunately, Patricia had brought duct tape and we were able to fix it, and stitch up the fly.  These repairs lasted through many more hours of violent winds.

1 broken tentThe winds were so bad that we had to put rocks on the pot lids to stop them blowing off.

2 rocks on pot lids

As we were ready to set off up the valley, the weather looked ominous.

camp in Gentian ValleyIn sheltered spots, the heathers were magnificent.

heather speciesWe soon started climbing up the main creek in the valley.  Normally, this whole section is full of snow.  But Nuk Tessli, like all the west Chilcotin, is incredibly dry.

partridge footAbove the falls, the winds were maniacle.

HarryI would normally hope to find a host of roseroot and moss campion, but all but this single clump of roseroot were finished.

red roserootThere were, however, a lot of butterwort in flower.  This insect-eating plant has sticky leaves.  Bugs get stuck on them and are digested.  Note the copious meal these plants are having.  The wind was thrashing the blossoms about so much I only got one reasonable photo.  It was now rattling with rain as well.

common butterwortAnd this is one of the plants I had come to see.  I don’t think that there are any recorded locations of the slender gentian (Gentianella tenella) outside Mt Fairweather on the BC, Yukon, Alaska border.  In Alaska it is common (and blue), in Europe rare.  I have seen plants labelled as G tenella in the Victoria herbarium, but they are the very common G stelleria, which grows all over the Chilcotin. My several pictures were ruined by rain except this not very good one.

gentianella tenellaWe skirted a small lake and managed to find some alpine harebells, one of my favourites.

campanula lasiocarpa

We had to abandon hopes of getting into the upper part of the valley where many more rare plants reside.  We camb back to camp a sheltered way, and stumbled upon a magnificent grouping of alpine hemlock.  They are loaded with cones – many conifers are this year, no doubt because of the drought.  Behind is the spear of the subalpine fir, and the sprawly, cone-laden top of the white-bark pine.

mt hemlockBoth people and camera lenses were pretty wet when we arrived back at camp.

18 wet hikers.

 

 

 

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