It may seem that life in the mountains moves at a glacial pace. The truth, however, is that the wilderness is a bustling metropolis of wild animals, towering trees, bountiful shrubs, and spellbinding mushrooms. On your next visit to Tyax Lodge, make sure you take a look at what’s growing around you!
What Is An Old Growth Forest?
An old growth forest is a forest that has been left undisturbed for a significant amount of time so that unique ecological situations arise. They are very important as they are homes for vast amounts of flora and fauna. Some species can struggle in new forests, while old growth forests provide a stable and unique environment for them. Some old growth forests act as large carbon sinks, which help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Spruce Lake Protected Area
Logging is prohibited in the Spruce Lake Protected Area. As early as the 1930s, preservationists were fighting the logging industry to protect the old growth forest. Formerly a provincial park, downgraded in 2007, mining and tourism still allowed in the area. Thanks to these preservation efforts we can relax on our patio at Tyax Lodge surrounded by native Canadian forests.
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
The douglas fir is a true Canadian giant, it has been known to grow to a towering 100 meters in height. It is an evergreen tree that is native to western Canada and is distributed from BC down through the US to California. Bears like to scrape away layers of bark and eat the sap of the tree.
Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis)
The whitebark pine tree will be known to many skiers as it is one of the highest growing pine trees and thus often marks the treeline in some areas. As the name suggests, the whitebark pine has white bark, can grow up to 30 meters in height. Squirrels like to make their home in whitebark pine trees, which can tempt bears to come to look for their stash of nuts!
Alpine flowers are hardy and often beautiful plants. They grow in a region known as the ‘alpine’. This is an area of high elevation above the treeline – the elevation of which trees do not grow. These areas are often rocky and barren, but some have beautiful flowering wildflower meadows.
Mountain biking through a high alpine wildflower meadow is one of the reasons why so many people come mountain biking at Tyax Lodge. During summer you’ll ride trails through blossoming tiger lilies, upland larkspur, grass-of-Parnassus, pink monkey-flower, and yellow salsify.
As well as creating stunning views and being home to some of our wild neighbours, plants in the area also provide food for animals in the area.
Juniper (Juniperus communis)
Known to most of us because of their use in the production of gin, the juniper plant is an important part of the diet for bears, birds, and other small animals. This plant can be found both as a shrub and a tree. The wood of the juniper has been used primarily for cladding the exterior of buildings but has also been used in history for making bows. The wood strikes the right balance of strength and flexibility, making it an ideal choice. Juniper berries have also been used in Indigenous medicine and in the use of essential oils.
Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.)
Walking around Tyax Lodge on a summer day, you’ll find blueberry bushes bursting with beautiful berries. The plant itself can range from a minute 10 cm in height to a few meters high, while the ripe fruit is a deep blue and about the size of a marble. Similar to the juniper berry, the blueberry is an important part of the diet of a number of wild animals living around us here at Tyax Lodge.
Mushrooms are interesting items as they do not belong to the animal or plant kingdom. Instead, they belong to a different kingdom – fungi. While at first glance you may assume that they are plants because they grow out of the ground and grow near plants, in fact, scientists had classified mushrooms and fungi as plants for a long time. However their cell walls are made of chitin, this is the same stuff that insects make their shells from. No plant does this.
Mushrooms grow very quickly and you’re sure to see some when out on horseback at Tyax Lodge. However, some mushrooms are poisonous so it is recommended that you do not eat any wild mushrooms.
Black Morel (Morchella elata)
Black Morels have a highly structured exterior and can seem quite alien-like. They have short stalks and a larger, arrow-shaped cap that points up above the ground. The caps are generally dark in colour. Black morels are poisonous. Cooking removes the toxins, so never eat a raw black morel.
Red-capped Scaber Stalk (Leccinum aurantiacum)
The red-capped Scaber Stalk resembles the stereotypical image of a mushroom. It has a white stalk and a larger, domed, red cap. It can grow up to 20 cm in diameter and 15 cm in height. It is found in both coniferous and deciduous forests. It is similar to the black morel in that it can not be eaten raw.