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We got out in the mountains this past week for a really pleasant hike. The air was cool and fresh. It wasn’t windy which was a mixed blessing. In some places, the mosquitoes were quite annoying but they thinned out after we got above the trees. Clark’s Nutcrackers were everywhere and Horned Larks were singing from lots of rocky perches. Ladybugs were emerging from the rocks and once again I wonder, what do they do all winter? Sky found a stick and she posed, on her own, in front of an old growth juniper, for a portrait. And the clouds were amazing! Fog filled the valleys to the north and east, eliminating half the views but it would pour up over the ridge line making outstanding aerial displays! We found big piles of black bear poop. I wonder what it was eating? The snow only recently melted so there were few flowers. We will have to return soon! With the warm weather, they will pop out in a hurry.

How many of my posts start with ‘The dogs and I’? Well here is another one.

On Thursday, the dogs and I hiked to the top of Tiffany Mountain. It’s a favorite hike I do most years. This is early in the season and I’ll do it again, maybe next month when the wildflowers are in bloom. Well, when most of the wildflowers are in bloom. Some were blooming on Thursday but the snow has only recently melted leaving behind last years brown grasses and the starts of some flowers. Even the larch are not fully leafed out.

On the rocky mountaintop there was some extra color from Ladybugs! Technically, I think they are Lady beetles but whatever you call them, there were thousands, probably millions of them. As I understand it, they migrate up in the fall and hibernate under the big rocks and emerge when the weather starts to warm up. It wasn’t really warm in my opinion. 52 degrees at the car when I started and colder still on top with a stiff breeze. The sun came out as I went down and it was warm enough to lose the jacket before I returned to the trailhead.


Trying to get in one hike per week is not always easy. Everyday life and work gets in the way, of course, and then there’s the weather. Friday I was planning a mountain outing and the weather forecast was for extreme thunderstorms and lots of rain. I cancelled my plans and was glad of it. We were lucky to have lots of rain, thunder and lightning and wind. Other places also had flash flooding and 80 mph winds that pushed down trees and knocked out power.

I managed to get some work done on Friday and changee my hike to the other side of the valley and headed for Tiffany Mountain, elevation 8242′. It’s a long drive up Boulder Creek from the East Chewuch Road, 22 miles from Winthrop to the trailhead. The valley had scattered fog from the rain the day before and puffy white clouds appeared up high. The Freezeout trail to Tiffany is three miles, one way, with a steep part to start, then a gradual grade and finishing with another steep part to get to the top. The elevation gain is 1740′. This area is great for wildflowers but Luna and I were a couple weeks early for the main part of the bloom. We may have to do it again!

Looking up at the mountain I could always see white clouds behind it. At the top, looking down the other side towards Tiffany Lake, all I could see was cloud – no view of the lakes or even towards the Okanogan. The clouds were piled up against the ridge. It was mostly sunny for us with a few sun blocks off and on. The temperature was comfortable and I needed my windbreaker at the top where it was breezy and cool.

Fog in the river valley before I left home.

This area is part of the Tripod fire from 2006.

I have to confess – I saw this piece of wood from a long ways away and was convinced it was a grouse.


I think these are dead whitebark pines. Whitebark pines are in decline around the west for a variety of reasons. You can learn more about them here.


The ‘easy’ part of the trail, with the summit in view. In a couple of weeks, the meadow will be ablaze with wildflowers.


From the top, looking south along the ridge. The Okanogan and Conconcully are on the other side that is covered in clouds.


And looking northwest; down to the right in the mist, way down, is Tiffany Lake. I did get a glimpse of a pika in the rocks and heard their high-pitched calls


Ladybugs clustered on lichen covered rocks near the summit.


Good Luna – look at the camera!


Even with several tries, I never did get her to look at the camera with me!


Heather is just starting to come in to bloom


Close-up of a whitebark pine


I learned a long time ago from a botanist that flowers like this are commonly referred to as DYC’s – darned yellow composites.


Asters – another member of the composite family


Sedum lanceolatum, maybe. Definitely a sedum.


Luna and I took a side trip to look at First Butte Lookout. Only five miles the sign said. Five rough miles. Now I’ve seen it and don’t have to wonder about it anymore.


Always have to remember to cool my feet after a good hike.


And the reason I picked a hike on that side of the valley? Ken was playing music with his friend Bill at the Methow Valley Ciderhouse! A cold glass of Howling Wolf Cider really hit the spot!

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