Some exciting things have been happening here, mainly my laptop finally commit suicide so I made a huge leap and got myself a sweet little macbook. Haven't used an apple since the Apple IIc... This fella is way better. I can do so much more than just turn the cursor from an arrow into a frog, and then make that frog green or pink. Ooh but thinking about that old computer made me want to play Oregon Trail. Ok, moving on.
Yesterday I went up to Mt Rainier. I had only been there once before on a road trip eleven years ago, and we had gone to one of the northern entrances. All I remember for wildlife was a fly landing on my friend's hair and sitting there for a long time. This trip was much much better.
I was not even aware that there was a southwest entrance until I started looking up some info after seeing some amazing fox and ptarmigan photos someone took there last weekend. Unfortunately I saw neither of those creatures, but plenty of other goodies made up for it.
Driving along the viewpoint turnoff I saw a creature up ahead in the road. As I got closer I realized it was a bird, a big bird, a bird I had never seen before...
I'm having trouble deciding which kind of grouse it is- it seems like Sooty are more common at Mt Rainier, but then it looks more like Dusky in my Sibley's. Help? [Sooty Grouse, it is!] I am super stoked whatever it is. He had friends too:
Only the male stayed above ground, the ladies kept a bit more distance downhill. Amazingly the dogs remained calm while these birds let me take a billion photos. They were rewarded with fig cookies, and the regular forced pose in front of a mountain.
Next I planned to do as much of a hike as possible while leaving the dogs in the car. I wanted to try the same trails where the foxes and ptarmigans were seen, so I headed to the Golden Gate Trail that leaves from the Paradise parking area. There was a group of loud boy scouts or something behind me so I pretty much speed-walked up the first part.
The trail turned from pavement to mud to snow as it climbed up the side of the mountain...
Pretty sweet views. On my way up I barely saw any birds, and zero mammals. I eventually had to turn around because I couldn't leave the dogs for too long. The descent was quick until I came across marmot-fest!
I was taking pictures of this one marmot that seemed to be slowly creeping towards me. I racked my brain for any information I had on marmots and whether they'd been known to attack or maim or anything like that, all the while the marmot crept closer. Then with a few tail flicks it full on charged towards me. I think I jumped a foot in the air but it was just heading for a tunnel under the trail I was standing near.
I think all of the marmots I saw were hoary marmots. Dang cute.
For birds besides the grouse, it was all mountain regulars: Gray Jays, ravens, juncos, nuthatches, and the first Varied Thrush I had seen since spring.
I could post a hundred photos of this park and it would still not fully illustrate just how beautiful it was... Here's one last attempt:
I can't wait to go back... Good times!!