It was a bit like hiking uphill on a beach, but instead of sand the trail was all volcanic ash. My first Oregon marmot made for a good distraction:
Yellow-bellied, I assume, based on range.
We stopped to eat lunch by some large boulders that were home to a most pathetic beggar.
Farther up the trail we came across a Horned Lark family with two speckly young birds.
There are good views of Eliot Glacier from a little side trail:
And downslope from the glacier:
We ended up running out of time to get to the top of Cooper Spur but the hike was still an awesome one. On the way down we ran into another marmot...
A woman asked what we were looking at and when I pointed out the marmot she called her arguing family over to see. They quit arguing and started exclaiming how big it was, and oh look it's going over there, and so on. Marmot saves the day!
We were most of the way back down the trail when a baby bird started peeping loudly. It took awhile to realize the bird was right in front of us, chest high on a branch.
The yellow on the wings made me think siskin, but it was too big with that big honkin bill. The bill also rules out solitaire. Gray Jay? Clark's Nutcracker? Any other ideas? This is at 6000-ish feet