May-vember Flinging in the Eastern Sooke Hills

Location: Mt McDonald and the Bumps (Marnie and John Peak / Stick Bump), Sooke Hills.
Date: May 8, 2022
Leaders: Rachel Treloar & Mary Sanseverino
Distance: ~8Km
Elevation gain: ~650m

May-vember strikes again! Old Ma Nature flung several bouts of hail at us, but this wasn’t quite the type of flinging we had in mind. However, our group of ten kept the Spring Fling spirit alive with a fine hike through some of the rich flower shows on Mt McDonald and the Bumps. Indeed, Vivian even showed up in a kilt and, in a dexterous bouldering display, clearly demonstrated the freedom of movement this gracious garment affords.

Don’t call it a skirt or you’ll be kilt! Mike and Vivian doing a little bouldering on McDonald. Photo by Rachel Treloar.

Our group of ten gathered at the base of McDonald on a day that looked bonnie enough to start. We detoured off the regular route about a third of the way up to visit a particularly rich flower field and cliff north of the main trail. We regained the main trail below the McDonald summit to look at some Rough Leaved Asters. This is a Red-Listed species BC and we were guided to it by noted ecologist Hans Roemer who was part of the group. Red-Listed means any native species or ecological communities that have, or are candidates for, Extirpated, Endangered, or Threatened status in British Columbia.

Rachel below the flower cliff on McDonald.

Calypso Orchids (aka Fairyslipper Orchids) on McDonald.

From the summit we explored down across McDonald’s open western slopes keeping our eyes peeled for wildflowers in bloom. The sky was beginning to darken as we made our way up Marnie (the “bump” to the NW of McDonald summit). Sure enough – the first hailstorm of the day (we had three) came upon us over the lunch stop. It was “kilts-away” as everyone pulled on rain pants and soldiered on.

Elevenses on McDonald’s western slopes: L-R George, Liz, Hans, Ken, Vivian, Dave, Rachel, Mike. Marlene and Mary are behind the camera.

Hailstorm from our lunch spot.

One of several “hail-Mary” moments on this hike – Mary ready to take on the elements. The arm on the right is owned by Rachel – she’s trying to keep the cast over her broken hand dry! Photo by Mike Whitney.

The weather continued to look grim so we opted for an out-and-back to both tag the summit of John Peak (aka Stick Bump) and see how the Alaska Saxifrage were coming along. From here it was down and around the southern ridge of McDonald, finishing on a little-travelled traverse of its lower eastern slopes. The weather started to clear by the time we hit the eastern traverse, but the footing was slick, so we went along with a great deal of care. And even more care was taken when in-the-field tick removal had to be performed on Mike – as any who know him will tell you – he is a real “tick magnet”.

Alaska Saxifrage on John Peak. Photo by Mike Whitney.

On John Peak (aka Stick Bump), Sooke Hills.

Embedded. In-the-field tick removal successfully executed by Mary. Photo by Rachel Treloar.

Over the course of the day we had 47 species in bloom: Sea Blush, Monkeyflower, Saxifrages, Calypso Orchid, Lupine, Larkspur, Orobanche to name a few. Add to that some excellent views of Turkey Vultures and, despite any weather woes, a grand day was had by all.

Turkey Vulture viewing. Photo by Mike Whitney.

Starting the eastern traverse – the weather brightens up.

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