Last month, Pemberton had the honour of hosting just over fifty scientist specialized in their field from near and very far as an extension of the Whistler Naturalists annual BioBlitz event.
This is the first time Pemberton has co-hosted this event. As the scientists unloaded from the bus, the butterflies in my stomach took flight. I consider myself an okay self-taught naturalist – my formal school training only dabbled into scientific components. I was nervous. Would they be interested in what they found here? Do we, do I, have anything to contribute to their wealth of knowledge?
We walked through Bathtub Trail as I have a hundred time before. This time it was at a snail’s pace with half a dozen or so mycologists – those who study fungi. The sight of a fruiting fungal body on the forest floor brought on a language and vocabulary more or less foreign to me. I observed things I never even knew existed such as fungal spores on an alder leaf. I learned that over 90% of all perennial plants depend on fungi for their existence, and of the millions of fungi that exist, many only fruit and are visible to the passer by once in every 20 or 30 years! The rest of the time they are present underground. Later in the day, I was amazed to learn that in B.C. we have about 75 different species of dragonflies, and about 50 of those species exist in Pemberton. Further, most of these species spend the first 2-5 years of their life underwater as eggs or nymphs. Once they emerge, they delight us in their flight for just three or so days to lay eggs, completing their life cycle, and die.
As we sat on the banks of the Lillooet River at the end of the day having lunch, Lil’wat members Lois and Lex Joseph brought on goosebumps as they whole-heartedly preformed their Welcome Ceremony for these visitors. I looked in front of me. The accumulated depth of knowledge held within ALL of these individuals sitting on the river bank was overwhelmingly staggering. Imagine if one person could hold all of that knowledge? Imagine if one person could know all of those various aspects of nature in such an intimate way – to know the minute details of one species of slug, in combination with the food they feed on, and what feeds on them – and so on. I was humbled. How much there is to know! How much I have to learn in order to better understand Nature.
A very big thank you to all the scientists and the Whistler Naturalists from Stewardship Pemberton Society for including us, and the Pemberton ecosystems this year. And thank you to everyone who came out to the public walk and those who contributed to make this event amazing. It truly was an honour.