I wonder if these two grasshoppers thought their end was near when this sooty grouse suddenly loomed large, as they are one of the insects grouse like to eat, but the bird paid them no heed as it sauntered through the mountain meadow. Taken in the fall of 2014 on my last visit to Mount Rainier National Park.
Washington lies across the Columbia River just to our north. I’ve spent a lot of time at Ridgefield and I’ve written about my love for that little refuge but there are two more parks that are near and dear to my heart: Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park. The Olympics literally go from the rugged coast (and tide pools) to rain forests to the snow-capped Olympic mountain range, along with plants and animals endemic to the Olympic peninsula. Rainier has its massive namesake where you can easily hike trails from the lodges and within minutes see pikas and marmots. There are many other trails too, such as the Summerland Trail in the Sunrise area where I met this hoary marmot sunning itself on the rocks. Sometimes I saw bears in both parks, sometimes quite close, sharing the trail with me. Deer and elk, birds, ground squirrels, so much wonderful wildlife living in such breathtaking scenery.
Washington has many other wonders I never explored, I never even visited Seattle for that matter apart from one quick business trip. But I could have explored these parks alone for the rest of my life and never gotten bored. Goodbye, I love you.
I came across this pika in red rocks somewhere in the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park during my trip in 2008. I say somewhere because for whatever reason I didn’t edit the original picture back then, so it never got added to my now defunct photo site and thus I never wrote about it. While the complete old site will never return, even in the blog there are 915 posts still offline, waiting for pictures to be re-edited and uploaded to Flickr. I’m keenly aware how dependent I am on Flickr for hosting my images and how even the rebuilt blog will go away if something happens to them. Over the years I’ve tried to think of a better solution where I’d be less dependent on the whims of other companies, on things outside my control, but I haven’t thought of one. Flickr doesn’t replicate my old site but it is better in many ways and provides a lot of functionality I can’t easily provide here.
I had just arrived at the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park and was taking a quick exploratory hike on the Sourdough Ridge Trail late in the day, as I had never been to that part of the park before. It was cold and raining but I found first a hoary marmot and then a group of sooty grouse on the way back to the car. My hands were soaked and cold so I was fumbling with the camera, but I watched them for as long as I could stand before continuing back to the car.