[Tweeters] Mt Rainier Golden Gate & Skyline Trails

wheelermombi at comcast.net wheelermombi at comcast.net
Sat Aug 9 16:36:39 PDT 2008


Hi Tweeters,

Well, last Saturday I missed a Black Hills Audubon field trip to Mt. Rainier because my visiting non-birder friend couldn't get out of bed in time, so I went there on my own this morning. Perhaps half a mile before Paradise, a SOOTY GROUSE hen (I assume that this is still in the Sooty range) was standing on the side of the road right by a turn-off, which was very considerate of it. I reached the Paradise parking lot about 7:30, and it was raining pretty hard. Also, the area was shrouded in clouds and a strong wind was blowing. I threw on the rain gear and headed up the Golden Gate Trail. Visibility was maybe 20 feet, and my glasses were both steamed up and coated with water. I made it to the Skyline Trail and it rained even harder. I waited a half hour, finally gave up, and went back down to the parking lot. Of course, as soon as I reached my car, the clouds lifted and the rain stopped. I turned around and trudged back up, eventually taking the Lower Skyline Trail a!
bout ha
lf way to Panorama Point, where I stopped because of the snow fields.

Even though the weather had cleared, there was still a stiff wind, especially at the higher elevations, which made for very slow birding. In the parking lot, I saw 2 CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS. Along the middle portion of the Golden Gate Trail, I saw 4 or 5 AMERICAN PIPITS, a much lower number than I usually see there at this time of year. Near the top of the tree line, an adventerous WESTERN KINGBIRD flew overhead. Between snow banks along the Lower Skyline Trail, I could hear 2 or 3 GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES, but they wouldn't show themselves. Finally, one landed about 20 feet from me and hopped to within less than 10 feet before flying off. I did not see any ptarmigans. Mammals included HOARY MARMOTS, PIKAS, GOLDEN-MANTLED GROUND SQUIRRELS, and a short-tailed species of vole. There is still snowy patches on the trails, but it is kind of cool walking on snow in August. The flowers were spectacular and the scenery alone makes the trip worth while. If you get there early,!
there
is still plenty of parking, and other than a few yodeling cross-country skiers, I had the mountain to myself most of the morning. By the time I left (around 1:30), people were swarming up the trails and a stream of cars were circling the lots.

May it rain only on politicians and radio talk show hosts,

Lonnie Somer
Olympia, WA
wheelermombi at comcast.net


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