We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10.00am.
Last Saturday we met in Van Anda and drove past Priest Lake then onto the old haul road and took the turnoff that now has a smart iron street sign with the name Surprise Mt. Road. We drove past the old Gem mine wast dump and parked in the wide grassy area where three roads meet. Sometimes we take the right fork here that goes past the giant split rock, a giant eratic boulder, and approach the summit of the mountain from the north. This time we headed on foot on the central road and took the route that approaches the summit from the north east. The view from the top includes the high ground that extends from Pocahontas in the north all the way south to the high point of the island, Mt. Shepherd.
After lunch we set off on the trail that runs downhill to the High Ledges viewpoint and passes a couple of areas with specimens of some of our less common native plants including the dainty little Shooting Stars and the tough Indian Dream fern. We tend to take our Arbutus trees pretty much for granted and only notice them if they are particularly twisted in shape or large in size. This day we came across a medium small one which was remarkable for putting on a such a great display of its bright yellow flowers.
This Arbutus was in peak bloom on the summit of Surprise Mountain.