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The girls and I had a floriferous hike last week. The wildflowers were magnificent and the sky was the bluest blue. We saw and heard pikas, hoary marmots and ground squirrels. Did you know that pikas make hay piles in the summer? They let the ‘hay’ dry out and then haul it under the rocks so they can eat it all winter. Pikas are the smallest rabbit species and they do not hibernate.

I know, this is a lot of images for one post but really, you need to see the beauty of the mountains right now.

My husband wrote a song called Climb to the Top of the World and I thought of that when we reached this mountaintop on Tuesday.

It was a chilly day and the wind was blowing pretty hard at home and I almost didn’t go. Then I remembered that Luna does much better on hikes when the weather is not the best in my mind. She just doesn’t tolerate the heat well anymore. So off we went with a rain jacket for me and carrying extra water for the dogs. It was 48 at the 6560′ trailhead and I was glad to have a warmer jacket too. The dogs thought it was perfect.

The trail goes steeply through a burned forest and then into high meadows before going straight up through the rocky mountainside. Just before the last big ascent, there is a rock that holds any water from recent precipitation and I don’t know if Luna remembers it or if she can smell it but long before I got there, she was slurping up the remnants of the dirty puddle. I gave her clean water too and used some of that to replenish the puddle.

The views at the 8245′ summit just can’t be beat. Mountains everywhere. The flowers are just beginning. In a week or two, they will be glorious.

Yesterday, the girls and I enjoyed our first outing over the pass this year. It’s hard to believe we are staying so close to home all the time. And we barely got over the pass so maybe it doesn’t even count, even if we did leave our county. There were a fair number of cars in the parking lot when we arrived and many of them had out of state plates – it seemed like more than usual.

The trail is muddy in places but more of it is snow-covered and icy. Normally I would not take my hiking poles for this hike. This time I did and I was glad to have them. They made the downhill part of the day much easier. Lots of little streams crossed the trail. Luna appreciates having water to drink regularly. Her old body seems thirstier all the time. She did lead the way and did more exploring than Sky so at 13 1/2 she is still going strong. The lake is mostly ice-covered and Sky was disappointed I did not throw the stick in it for her. Next time. There was a little bit of rain but no wind like at home where we’ve been buffeted by high winds for days.

Sky did get to swim in the pond near the trailhead so her day was complete. It was a good outing.

First we stopped to enjoy glacier lilies, anemones and a fast moving stream and then we looked for a place to walk. The trailheads are still covered in snow so the girls and I started at Meadows campground and walked up. Up and up til we got to a high spot named South Slate at 6828′. It is a south facing slope so the snow was mostly melted, leaving patches where the dogs could roll around. There was no trail; I just picked my way around the rocky slopes. I think this area burned in 2003 leaving behind a silver forest of standing dead trees that have sloughed their blackened bark. Why do some dead trees stand for years and years while others (like on our place) fall within a few years of dying?

The views were terrific. The flowers were lovely. Birds were singing and calling. I heard a Sooty Grouse doing his display hoots but could never track him down. Olive-sided Flycatchers sang their ‘quick three beers!’ song over and over! Mountain Bluebirds made soft chirps. Ground squirrels whistled. And I found a geo cache. Not on purpose. The cylinder was not well covered and the bright color caught my eye underneath two oddly stacked rocks.

It was a good outing.

The weather here remains unsettled. The wind frequently howls, clouds come and go, the temperature doesn’t go much above 70 and there are occasional thunderstorms. It’s June and feels very cold. But why should we let that stop us? I woke Ken up yesterday and told him we needed to go for a hike. There are lots of projects around here to do and he continues to work from home and now he has to travel again so there’s no time like now.

It was a LONG bumpety bump drive to get to the trailhead at 6800 feet elevation and given that it had rained hard at home the previous night, we should not have been surprised to see new snow. Not a lot but I imagine that the folks camped up there were not real happy about it. Along the trail little and big rivulets and small streams were running joyfully down the mountainside. Flowers bloomed in snow and standing water. Anemones were everywhere. Water dripped from evergreens as the snow melted.

Ken fished for brook trout while the girls and I explored a bit around the lake and Sky took great joy in swimming for sticks despite the cold water. She shivered when she sat still.

It was a lovely short hike despite the long bumpety bump drive.

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