Great Divide’s Fall Newsletter, 2019
We’ve had real winter this past week, with bracing temperatures and clear blue skies. As I write this, the sun is shining, and there is a plume of spindrift blowing off the summit of Mount Temple.
Thank you everyone, who joined us on a guided hike this summer, and now that our winter snowshoeing season has begun, I look forward to seeing you on the trail this winter.
My Favourite Nature Book of 2019: Forest Bathing by Dr Qing Li
By now, many have heard of “shinrin yoku,” the Japanese art of forest therapy. This is more than an art, it’s also a science, and Dr. Qing Li is Japan’s most well known forest therapy researcher.
He has distilled his findings into this lovely book, and cleverly, he has done it in a format that mirrors the experience of being out in the forest. There are soothing pictures of Japanese woodlands, and just enough text on each page for Dr. Li to share his story.
It’s a relaxing and profound read at the same time, if such a thing is possible. Perfect for the nature lover on your Christmas list.
The Mystery Lake of Molar Pass
In July, I hiked with friends Anna & Marcus up to a high ridge overlooking the Molar Pass meadows. It is dotted with lakes, and most of them looked like this:
But one of them was a brilliant glacial green. The problem, and you can see it in the following photograph, is that there is no glacier above this lake, and you need glaciers to create this colour. The moving ice grinds the bedrock and produces ‘rock flour,” a fine silt that stays suspended in glacial lakes, rendering them green or turquoise.
I could not figure it out, but Nadine knew immediately. “It’s a rock glacier,” she said. Yes, dear reader, there is such a thing. Wikipedia says rock glaciers consist “either of angular rock debris frozen in interstitial ice, former ‘true’ glaciers overlain by a layer of talus, or something in-between.”
The key thing is that a rock glacier moves (even though it might only be a few metres a year), and this is enough to produce rock flour, and turn your everyday garden variety lake into an eye-popping emerald masterpiece. Mystery solved.
Best Nature Podcast of the Year: The Bison and the “B”
Canada often plays second fiddle to the U.S. when it comes to profound ideas about nature and conservation. When I was a biology student, I read Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and Edward Abbey, all celebrated American writers.
So I was delighted to learn that in the early 20th century, there was a secret society of Canadian (and some American) biologists and ecologists who paved the way for modern thinking on conservation. They called themselves the “B”, and they came together to stop the transfer of plains bison to Wood Buffalo National Park in 1925. As the host of the podcast, Briony Penn says, “the members of the ‘B’ went on to influence an underground environmental education movement that resulted in much of North America’s early protected areas, conservation legislation and environmental ethos.”
You can listen to or download the podcast here.
Happy holidays, everyone.