WildWise Yukon staff lead a bear awareness hike with YCS. It is among the popular specialty hikes offered by the YCS at Kwanlin/Miles Canyon during the summer. (YCS/Submitted)

WildWise Yukon staff lead a bear awareness hike with YCS. It is among the popular specialty hikes offered by the YCS at Kwanlin/Miles Canyon during the summer. (YCS/Submitted)

YCS offers guided hike focused on wild edibles

The hike is scheduled for July 10 at 10 a.m.

Nothing quite beats a beautiful hike on a summer’s day.

Stopping for a moment here and there to take in the scenery and maybe grab a quick bite to eat, adds much to the whole experience. You might pack those snacks, or you might find them along the trail if you know what you’re looking for.

On July 10, the Yukon Conservation Society is giving Yukoners an opportunity to learn just what kind of edible goodies they can find growing around Kwanlin/Miles Canyon.

YCS is hosting a “wild edibles hike” as one of its specialty guided hikes of the summer with the walk beginning at the suspension bridge of the canyon at 10 a.m. It’s expected to take about two hours.

In a July 6 interview, YCS trail guide coordinator Lorijane Émond-Quéméré explained the hike specifically focused on wild edibles came about from what trail guides were hearing during the Kwanlin/Miles Canyon twice-daily hikes YCS hosts each Tuesday through Saturday through the summer.

“There’s been a lot of interest in plants,” she said.

Many taking in the daily hikes have asked questions about the flora and fauna growing in the area, including what type of plants can be harvested and eaten.

It seemed like a great idea to focus a hike specifically on the topic. Two of the trail guides who have a strong interest in plants will lead the hike, Émond-Quéméré said.

The guides have also worked to produce a video detailing some of the edible plants and how to use them for food and drinks like Juniper tea, salad and more. Émond-Quéméré said YCS is also stressing the importance of harvesting edible plants in a sustainable way so that more can grow in the area and be enjoyed by everyone.

Depending on the territory’s COVID situation, YCS may limit the number of participants for the hike, though Émond-Quéméré said if it proves popular another wild edibles hike could be scheduled later in the summer.

The wild edible hike is one of a number of specialty guided hikes being offered by YCS as part of its daily Kwanlin/Miles Canyon walks.

On July 14, staff from the Whitehorse Rapids Fish Ladder are joining the 2 p.m. hike focused on fish species. Previous fish species hikes also happened through the month of June.

Other specialty walks have seen officials from WildWise Yukon on-hand for a bear awareness hike and Michael Dougherty, a co-convener of the Long Ago Yukon archeology group, sharing his knowledge about Kwanlin/Miles Canyon’s past for a history-themed walk.

While the themed hikes provide an opportunity to focus on a particular aspect of Kwanlin/Miles Canyon, the other daily hikes give participants an opportunity to learn about a variety of features in the area.

Émond-Quéméré noted the focus of the more general guided hikes often depends on the questions coming from participants. Before they start leading the hikes, trail guides spend their first two weeks on the job in training, learning from a variety of experts about the history, flora and fauna, wildlife, even the bugs along the Kwanlin/Miles Canyon trail.

That means they are ready to answer questions on a number of topics and each hike offers something different based on what participants are interested in.

For the regular hikes, guides will typically ask participants what they’re interested in learning about and build the hike around that, taking questions along the route.

“Not every day is the same,” Émond-Quéméré said, noting the benefit of hikes that allow more of a dialogue between guides and participants. Just as the discussion can vary day-to-day, so too does the number of hikers coming out for the guided hikes.

Émond-Quéméré said the 2021 season is “a little like last year” with smaller crowds due to COVID-19. On a given day there can be anywhere from one to more than a dozen people out for a YCS hike, often with the group at about seven and under.

Many attending the hike are those who have recently moved to Whitehorse and a few tourists who have been able to travel after being vaccinated, she said.

“We encourage locals to come out,” she said, pointing to the opportunities to learn something different about Kwanlin/Miles Canyon with each walk, even for those who have been on the hikes before.

The daily guided hikes happen at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day from Tuesday to Saturday, with the Wednesday 2 p.m. hike being a specialty hike. Some Saturday hikes — such as the July 10 wild edibles hike at 10 a.m. — are also specialty hikes. Participants are asked to meet at the suspension bridge.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com