One of the best experiences is to visit Manning Park as there are numerous trails that vary in difficulty. In August, we headed for Manning Park with the intention of seeing the flowers in the alpine meadows on Mount Outram. It didnâ€™t look too promising as we turned left at the sign of the garishly painted Giant Marmot and parked our vehicles in the drizzling rain. The trail begins along a road built by the Royal Engineers in the early 1860â€™s.
You then turn left at the sign to â€˜Mount Outramâ€™ and begin to climb steadily, gaining 1200m in the next 9K. The path twists and turns in hair-pin bends through the trees, the clouds were low and going nowhere. The quietness was occasionally broken by a twig snapping or the high-twitter of a bird; it was understandable how things are sometimes â€˜seenâ€™ in places like this as your mind plays tricks when the slight motion of a leaf catches your eye as itâ€™s the only movement in your line of vision. The forest floor was coated in mosses and little undergrowth, testament to the density of the trees. Moss also clung to the windward side of all the trunks. The trail was beautifully soft with just the occasional tree root or small stump to act as a tripping hazard. Orange markers indicate the way and occur every thirty metres or so. Some trees have fallen along the path and have been left in situ to provide sustenance for the lichens and mosses
After two hours of steady uphill walking, we had broken through the cloud cover and we began to see meadows appearing on the mountains surrounding Mt Outram. This encouraged us to attain our goal but the view on our path was just trees and more trees, though we could see patches of blue sky. Crossing a stream, the trees continued but gradually thinned allowing flowers, mainly lupins, to appear along the path which was beginning to show signs of weathering. A final hair-pin brought us out, after three hours, to the first meadow and the hills became alive with the colour of flowers bobbing around in the breeze – Aquilegia, penstemon, wild lilies, Indian paintbrush, saxifrage, campanella â€“ dots of yellow, orange, purple, and blue over the slopes. Ten more minutes of walking through rainbow-coloured fields brought us to the rocky outcrop where we had lunch. There were plenty of holes in the hillside indicating the presence of chipmunks, picas, and marmots. Bumble bees were buzzing contentedly all around. This was still 700 metres below the summit of Mount Outram, two hours away above our heads.
Julian has written articles on Middle Eastern and European architecture for the US magazine Skipping Stones. He has written travel articles that were published in The Toronto Globe and Mail, Fate Magazine, National Catholic Register, and Northwest Travel. Julian has also written articles for the In The Know Traveler, Go Nomad, InTravelmag, and Go World Travel websites. He has also taken many photographs that have appeared in travel guides by National Geographic, Thomas Cook and The Rough Guides. Examples of his work can be found at http://www.photographersdirect.com/sellers/details.asp?portfolio=13734