Today I visited the Hawke Hill Ecological Reserve, an area which is said to contain ‘the most easterly alpine barrens in North America’:
Getting there is a bit awkward the first time, because the entrance road to the reserve is directly on the Trans Canada Highway. So, after scaring the vehicles behind you by coming to a full stop on the TCH, you make the right turn going up Four Mile Hill, on top of which you can park your car. From there it’s a short walk to the reserve, which is basically a bare hill with many sorts of tiny plants.
As you can see here, they don’t call the area barren for nothing. At first glance the reserve looks like a desolate bare hill, I imagine the time of my visit (the edge of winter) doesn’t enhance the appearance either. I’ve visited alpine barrens before so I knew what to look for: tiny plants stunted in growth and dwarfed as a result of the harsh local weather conditions.
It’s very important to walk carefully in this reserve, because one wrong step may eradicate a complete family of these rare miniaturized shrubs!
On of the most obvious alpine plants around was the Diapensia, its deep red fall colours immediately attracted me to its presence, it grew in small mats in exposed locations.
No sooner had I entered the reserve or I seemed to be on the way out again at the Southern end, it’s just a tiny little reserve. No matter, the direct surroundings of the reserve are very nice too, in a different way. Bare hills make place for rocky outcrops, small lakes, marshes, bogs, and yellow fields filled with huge boulders.