Looking back at these Olympic marmot pictures I was struck by how they resemble our tortoiseshell cat, Trixie. In cats the mixed brown & black fur pattern can occur in females (or rarely in males with two XX chromosomes) where the primary color varies randomly from cell to cell, but in the marmots I think their coats are changing from light brown early in the season to dark brown near the end, and the marmots I saw on this occasion in the fall were in the process of transition.
I’ve only ever seen Olympic marmots once, near the road on the way back from Obstruction Point after a day of hiking at Hurricane Ridge. The marmots are endemic to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, the National Park service has more info if you’re interested.
I saw at least four species for the first time on my Washington trip, three of them mammals and two of them marmots. In addition to the hoary marmots I saw at Mount Rainier, I was lucky enough to see Olympic marmots in Olympic National Park, one of the species that is unique to the peninsula. I expected to see them in rock formations along the trails in the Grand and Badger Valleys but neither saw or heard them. I did see a couple on the road between Obstruction Point and Hurricane Ridge, I would have missed them if a friend hadn’t seen them there on an earlier visit. The road is quite narrow with occasional steep dropoffs and made me more nervous than any of the trails I hiked, but in this particular location there was enough room to park on one side of the road and be clearly visible to traffic from both directions.