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Ponderosa Pine to Sagebrush : The last big climb up from Cayoosh Creek, the one with the scenic lookout on the corner, is followed by the big downhill to Lillooet. The transition here is from Douglas-fir forest, to ponderosa pines, and finally to sagebrush and bunchgrass. (Ponderosa pine is worth pulling over for. Sniff the jigsaw-puzzle bark on a hot day and you’ll smell vanilla.)

The abrupt transition to semi-arid desert is caused by orographic precipitation working in reverse. Like the Pemberton Valley, Lillooet is on the far side of most prevailing storms. Combine that with much lower elevation and you get dry, dry conditions. This pattern – wet mountains, dry valleys – is repeated across B.C.

And if you do make it to Lillooet, I recommend stopping at the first sagebrush. Collect a bunch of branches, put it on the dashboard, and enjoy the scent for the rest of your trip. It’s a great souvenir of your drive on the Sea-to-Sky-to-Sage Highway.

Upcoming Events :

Saturday, August 3rd — Whistler Bird Walk . Meet at the bottom of Lorimer Road at 7 a.m. near the entrance to the Catholic Church. Novices and newcomers welcome. Call Michael Thompson (604-932-5050) for details.

Sunday, August 11th, 7 a.m. — Squamish Estuary Bird Count . Meet at the Howe Sound Inn & Brew Pub in Squamish. All levels of birders are welcome on this half-day event sponsored by the Squamish Estuary Conservation Society.

Wednesday, August 28th —Stephen Herrero on Bears, Millennium Place . Stephen Herrero, the renowned grizzly and black bear biologist and author of Bear Attacks , comes to Whistler in a joint presentation by the Whistler Naturalists and the JJ Whistler Bear Society. Watch upcoming columns for ticket information.

September 20-22 — Provincial Naturalists Meeting in Whistler . The Whistler Naturalists are hosting this year’s fall meeting of the Federation of B.C. Naturalists and we need some help! This three-day event will include a wide variety of talks and field trips by excellent speakers from our area and beyond. If you are interested, please contact Cathy Conroy (604-894-1124; email:

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