Wilderness centre offers extended programs

Summer may have started late at Paradise Meadows this year — but summer will carry on through September, with extended staffing and programming at the Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre.

THIS MARSH MARIGOLD is just one of the many sights for botany-minded hikers in Paradise Meadows.

THIS MARSH MARIGOLD is just one of the many sights for botany-minded hikers in Paradise Meadows.

Summer may have started late at Paradise Meadows this year — but summer will carry on through September, with extended staffing and programming at the Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre.

The Centre is located at the Paradise Meadows trailhead to Strathcona Park, and is operated by the Strathcona Wilderness Institute (SWI), a non-profit society.

Thanks to funding from the Comox Valley Regional District, hours have been extended this season. The Centre will be staffed for visitor information up to Oct. 2 on Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as on many weekdays, thanks to volunteers.

SWI programs include Nature Walks and Talks, about two hours, with a guest expert on a nature theme.

Level 1 hikes are three to four hours with a guide, for all ages. Level 2 hikes are five to seven hours with a guide, for intermediate hikers. Level 3 hikes are eight to 10 hours, for fit hikers only.

Centennial events are special programs for Strathcona Park’s 100th year.

The hike this Saturday is a Level 2, starting at 9 a.m. to Mount Elma, guided by Heather and Rolf Kellerhals. Pre-register for this seven-hour hike at coordinator@strathconapark.org or 250-650-4304.

Hiking boots with good tread are necessary for all guided hikes, and hiking poles advisable. To date there is still about half snow cover on the trails, several feet deep in places.

This Sunday, there are two nature programs.

At 9 a.m., join Tyler Johns for a Nature Walk to identify and explore sub-alpine ecology, focusing on insects. A 1 p.m. nature walk has been cancelled.

The next Level 2 hike on Aug. 13 starts at 9 a.m. to Croteau Lake, with guides Robin and Jennifer Harrison of the Comox Valley Naturalists Society. Last year, participants on this six-hour hike were able to swim in the lake.

On Aug. 14 at 1 p.m, bilingual (German/English) botanist Fred Constabel will guide a nature walk looking at summer flowers around the meadows.

SWI nature walks & hikes continue through August and September. For the full schedule, visit www.strathconapark.org. For the most up-to-date information on activities & trail conditions, visit the blog at http://strathconapark.blogspot.com.

For all activities,  dress for the weather, wear proper footwear, bring lunch or snacks, water, bug spray and sun protection. No pets, please, on SWI guided nature walks and hikes unless otherwise noted.

Programs are free, although a donation of $5 to 10 is appreciated to help with the Institute’s ongoing activities. All SWI activities start at the Wilderness Centre.

— Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre

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