Make it or Lake it

Hello again! We are back in British Columbia at Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park. It’s been quite a change from Kluane to Kinaskan, from a huge mountainous park to a small, quiet park on the lake.

The view from atop Todagin Mountain looking down on Kinaskan Lake (left) and Eddontenajon Lake (right)
The view from atop Todagin Mountain looking down on Kinaskan Lake (left) and Eddontenajon Lake (right)

We aren’t missing out on the mountains too much though since the RV campground we are staying at backs onto a nice mountain view and for our day off we headed out for a hike up the nearby Todagin Mountain. The hike started in spruce/aspen forest with lots of soapberry and cranberry underbrush and soon climbed steeply into conifer forest and then subalpine fir and finally into subalpine meadows. It’s always interesting to see how the habitat changes as you hike up a mountain and we were rewarded at the top with amazing views of the surrounding areas including Kinaskan Lake and Eddontenajon Lakes and some snowy mountain peaks. While we ate lunch on the mountain, a group of trail riders rode by on horses and followed the trail down the other side of the mountain. They were out for a ten day hunting trip and the leader told us his grandfather blazed the trail we just hiked up 60 years ago. It was cool to learn a little about the history of the trail we had just hiked and to discover that we had just followed an old Native hunting trail.

An osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in flight above Natadesleen Lake
An osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in flight above Natadesleen Lake

In the park we are sampling in, there are two lakes that have provided some nice opportunities for bird watching. There are many loons out on both lakes which we have seen and heard regularly. We also spotted a small group of goldeneyes on Kinaskan Lake and we were lucky enough to see them diving and swimming around almost every day we were there. Down another trail, on Natadesleen Lake, we had the opportunity to watch an osprey flying over the lake searching for fish and diving a few times. It was awesome to see an osprey in action!

The larva of a predaceous diving beetle.
The larva of a predaceous diving beetle.

One of the highlights of our insect collecting here in Kinaskan was finding some large predaceous diving beetle (Dytiscidae) larvae. We found one of these guys in Kluane and it was a really exciting find and then here at a pond in Kinaskan we caught four more of these huge predaceous diving beetle larvae!! They are pretty spectacular to see, not only because of their size (about 5 cm long), but because of the huge pincers on their head. I was a little nervous handling these larvae because I didn’t want my finger to get caught between those pincers! The larvae use them to cling to grasses or debris on the bottom. Here they lie in wait to ambush their prey which they catch with their front legs then bite down on with the pincers. If I were a small creature living in that pond, I would not want to meet one of these beetle larvae!

Next we’ve got a two day drive heading south ….Glacier National Park, here we come!

-Beverly

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