This past August my kids and I spent three nights camping at Alice Lake with my Uncle and cousin. My Uncle is an enthusiastic hiker, and one of my favourite people to go hiking with, so it should not be a surprise that we took the kids out on hikes of varying length every day. On our second day we headed to Brandywine Falls, which has several trail options. The first, and easiest, option is the short trail to the falls. As you can see they are beautiful, although much more impressive in person, and well worth the 10-20 minute, easy walk it takes to get there.
After we checked out the falls we headed back toward the railway tracks and took another trail that eventually branches off either to the suspension bridge over Callaghan Creek or, I believe, the Cheakamus Bungee Bridge (This is what I get for slacking off on my posts and not writing down exactly what we did). We opted for the suspension bridge, which was approximately three kilometres away from the trail head near the railway tracks and, although at times it was somewhat challenging for the kids, it was a nice hike with a variety of scenery including rocky ridges with scrubby trees, and at times denser forest.
We crossed the bridge and found ourselves at a campsite where we had a picnic lunch with a overly friendly squirrel who obviously equated humans with food. I am not sure the kids made the connection that we could have driven there instead of dragging them on a 3km hike to see the bridge. They did not say anything and I certainly did not feel the need to point it out.
|Callaghan Creek Suspension Bridge|
|Northwestern Alligator Lizard|
The Northwestern Alligator Lizard does well in cool, wet climates and can live in a variety of habitats including grasslands, stream banks and ocean beaches. Their main requirement is a sunny, open area for basking. After hibernating all winter the lizards mate in spring and the females give birth to 4-6 live young sometime between mid-August and mid-September. I should also note that the females only mate once every two years (on average) using the time in between to recover their stores of body fat. A meal for this lizard can include beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders, snails, scorpions or millipedes.
Adult lizards can grow to a maximum length of approximately 20 cm (8 inches), of which a large portion is their tail. When threatened they have the ability to drop their tail if the standard defense techniques of biting, and releasing a bad odour are unsuccessful. I found a web page with some up close, and slightly gross, pictures of a recently dropped tail. I am not sure if the pictures, or the thought of a human possibly causing the detached tail, bothered me more. Probably naive, but I would prefer to assume that someone happened upon the lizard at just the right time. Regardless the site has some great information. Predators of the Northwestern Alligator Lizard include a variety of snakes, birds including shrikes and hawks, and house cats.
Depending upon when you asked my son this day was either "the best day ever", or "the worst day ever". By the end of the hike you probably would have heard the latter response. However, the lizard sighting helped skew the results to the former...at least for a little while.