It has been two years since I revisited Nuktessli – last year was because of the fires and the year before the clients for the flower tour cancelled and I was too busy anyway. Nuktessli (actually two words, but the search engines don’t like it) was the mountain resort I created, starting in 1988. I built cabins single-handedly and ran the place for 23 years before I sold it to Doron Erel and family from Israel. (You will notice that, if you click on Doron’s link, the first picture is of Doron with Harry.) Because Fred and Eve, Quebecois volunteers (see previous post), were able to stay home and water the garden and feed dogs, I was able to squeeze in on a flight a day early. Despite the 2-year gap, when I presented myself at Tweedsmuir Air’s dock, it seemed as though it was simply business as usual.Half way there, we flew over Charlotte Lake. In the shadow are the burned slopes from the 2004 Lonesome Lake fire, which initiated my first wildfire evacuation. (Told in Wildfire in the Wilderness).
Soon “my lake” (I still think of it that way) swam into view, with Mount Monarch behind.The following morning.But Nuktessli has changed. Doron always has a lot of volunteers – seven at this time – plus his son Sela and girlfriend, as well as tourists – all Israeli so Hebrew was the language of choice. Pictured is the cabin I used to live in, but now it is the kitchen and dining room.Doron and Sela make sure their volunteers are skilled for they are constantly expanding with extra cabins, shower blocks etc,And many of the workers are very creative, leaving evidence of their prowess behind.I had 24 hours to myself before my clients would arrive. So I was able to enjoy the flowers of “the Block” at leisure – (but not alone – the mosquitos were bad up there, too.) White bark pine cones were abundant this year.Paintbrush were not so prolific but they are always striking.Pond lilies were on displayAs were bunch berries and Labrador tea.The perennial patch of columbines was in its prime.Notice the winged attendants in the next picture…
The clients arrived around noon the following day, and during the afternoon I took them along the same route. The next day we headed to North Pass Lake. One of the Israelis came with us and was able to take the three who wanted to go faster with him, but Carmen was more interested in taking it slowly and enjoying the details underfoot. Which suited me just fine.Butterwort is an early-blooming species. Around the “block” it was finished, but higher up we found a single lone specimen still in flower. It is an insect-eating plant – the sticky leaves are covered in a digestive enzyme that dines on creatures unfortunately enough to land there. (Note the black spots on the leaves.)Another early bloomer often missed was the pygmy Lewisia. It is not deemed to be common this far north but in fact it is abundant. Professional botanists ignore my info, though, because I have no letters after my name.We were heading for the green meadows now visible on the ridge across the valley.Just before climbing onto them, we waded through a spectacular patch of lupins and valerian. (That is North Pass Lake behind them.)A steep slog got us to the meadows. It is obvious that the blooming season at Nuk Tessli is now regularly earlier by a week or ten days. In the past, mid July would be borderline to see these flowers and heather would dominate up there. Now the red heather was almost finished.The meadows were in their prime.Common red paintbrushSmall-flowered paintbrushAnd in amongst the flowers, a willow ptarmiganOn our way down, we had a bit of a shower.The others, who had taken a longer route, arrived home ahead of us but I had thoroughly enjoyed my slow day, and Carmen was an ideal companion.
Day three was a trip up the lakes. Motor boats took us to the head of “my lake”, and we walked over the portage to the patch of long-leafed sundews. (Hard to see is a spider in the lower left quarter of the picture.)It used to be far more abundant until we had an exceptionally dry year. It still hasn’t recovered. As the bugs get stuck, the leaves curl around them to digest them. They had no paucity of food!In the past I have found dragonflies trapped in these plants, but it was a little early for the hatch and our prime find was a long-dead moth….The rest of the party jumped in the canoes and headed up the next lake, but my knees won’t allow me to canoe any more unless the seat is very high, so I returned with one of the volunteers alone. I can no longer cover the ground, but there are still many aspects of Nuktessli that I can enjoy. Thank you, Doron for inviting me – and the volunteers for producing excellent meals. Nuktessli is a real vacation now – no organizing bookings and flights, no paying for them, no cooking, no dishes – and interesting people to meet. I hope to be able to go around the same time next year.