Ever wanted to hike to the top of Garibaldi but haven’t had the chance?
The Grade 10s made the the trek to Garibaldi from September 16-19, 2014. Check out this ecosystem piece written by Louise. She captures both the ecology of the area and the experience of the hike with great clarity:
To start off, the parking lot has a surprisingly large amount of alpine trees which create almost a barricade around the man-made parking zones. Also, there are not many flowers that bloom in this environment due to the enormous trees stealing most of the sunlight and rainwater from the supposed flowers and shrubs that would grow beneath them; thus, displaying competition between plant life even at such low elevations of the mountain. Furthermore, it is critical to remember that the parking lot was constructed with the direct help of de-forestation, therefore, this abiotic factor has caused this environment to reduce its number of evolving plant life as well as the types of species that can thrive in this area. Furthermore, there are not many animals that roam around in this area, where the most often encountered species of animal would be insects such as flies and mosquitos. Ultimately, the man-made parking zone has disrupted and harmed the habitats and growth of both animals and plant life in this area.
Higher up on Garibaldi Mountain, there are the beautiful fields of Taylor Meadows, which is home to a diverse amount of flowers that include Lupins, Indian Paintbrushes and Sitka Valerians. One factor that greatly impacts the abundance of plant life is due to the open fields where only small pockets of trees are present; as a result, sunlight and rain are able to easily reach smaller plant life, thus, making it a suitable environment for flowers and berry bushes to thrive. Since plant life is so richly populated in this environment, many animals such as deers, Whiskey Jacks and cougars are capable of surviving in this ecosystem. Though due to the higher elevation, the temperature can get extremely cold at night as well as during occasional rainstorms, therefore, the animals and plants that inhabit this environment must be able to endure these difficult conditions while adapting to the sudden climate changes as well.
To reach one of the highest peaks of Garibaldi mountain, there is Panorama Ridge, where the environment changes dramatically due to its rocky region, where sparse amounts of grass and occasional dwarfed trees can be found in this sector of the mountain. Smaller animals such as birds and squirrels can be found in this area as they are one of the few species that can manage climbing such high altitudes. Furthermore, the amount of oxygen is greatly reduced compared to the amount of oxygen at the bottom of the mountain; as a result, many animals may not be able to survive with the lack of oxygen and plant life in this environment. To make living conditions even more strenuous, the evening temperature up on Panorama Ridge is even colder than the temperature at Taylor Meadows due to elevation differences, where during the sunny daytime, the temperature would increase exponentially as there would be no place for shade or shelter due to the point lack of trees in this environment. Also, the rocks that make up most of Panorama Ridge create an obstacle for plants to sprout and blossom as the soil is trapped beneath the endless piles of rocks; the rocks also make it difficult for animals to move about due to its unstable and crooked platforms. Thus, Panorama Ridge is an environment that is dangerous and difficult to survive for both animals and plants.
Despite the differences between these environments, they share many similarities as well. For example, all these environments are home to various small species of animals and there are always some species of plant life growing in these areas, whether it is trees or flowers or simply grass. In addition, often times the flowers that thrive in Taylor Meadows grow especially abundant on the pathway that link towards Panorama Ridge, where many berry bushes and summer flowers blossom along the dirt road that connects these two places; thus, displaying how there are no literal boundaries between one ecosystem and another. All in all, Garibaldi Provincial Park displays the diversity of flora and fauna found at each elevation of the mountain as well as connects each environment towards a larger, more centralized ecosystem that surrounds the entire mountain from bottom to top.