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Tag Archives: mountains

Wildflowers, vistas, butterflies, dogs, clean cool creeks. What more could I want?

I’ve spent much of the first half of January right here. Staring at this screen. Rebuilding my website. It was a painful process – mentally and physically. Now it’s done. More or less. There’s always something more that could be done. And goodness knows, restoring all of those blog posts is on my ‘to do’ list. But for now it will have to wait. Take a look at Reflected Light Images if you are interested to see what I do when I’m not doing this other stuff.

There have been a few brilliantly sunny days but in general it’s been gray. There has been some new snow so skiing conditions are generally good whether for cross country or downhill. Ken and I made a trip to the Loup Loup Ski Bowl last weekend. It was a long ago gift from him to me and I was pleasantly surprised to find out I could still do it. Tomorrow I have a wedding to photograph at the Loup and I am feeling confident about my downhill skills and looking forward to another fun day.

It’s hard to believe that December and 2017 are nearly over. I’ve spent lots of time outside in the cold weather and powder snow with dogs. Here are some images that don’t feature dogs.

This week the valley has been mostly enshrouded in thick cold ice fog. Thanks to abundant web cams I figured out that up on the Loup (Loup Loup Pass) there was sunshine and twice I went up there to escape the fog. Not only was it sunny but the trails are not icy like they are in valley and the low lying-hills. That is because we have been under the effect of a weather inversion. This means that high pressure and warmer air are trapping the fog and cold air down in the valley and it is warmer as you go higher in elevation.

This is one goofy winter.

Just three weeks after the unfortunate accident with the deer, I have a new car! What a relief to get through all that. I was anxious to see how well it handles in snow and on rough roads so I called a friend and asked if she wanted to go Harts Pass. Who knows, we might see a few cool winter time birds too. On the way up we were treated to three Varied Thrushes. A good sign.

View of the North Cascades, looking south

 

Looking west

 

We hit snow not far above the goat lick area. Not too much and it was cold and powdery. We passed Harts Pass and parked at the horse loading and unloading parking lot and got out to walk. Very shortly we heard and saw Pine Grosbeaks! Several of them coming and going from the tops of spruce trees. We looked away and began to walk up the road some more and I looked back and I saw a Northern Hawk Owl! A first for my friend. She only got a short look at it before it flew down and maybe towards the road to Meadows where I have seen it in past years. It was in the same grove of trees where we saw the grosbeaks. We kept walking up to the last switchback before the road goes UP to Slate Peak, seeing other flocks of birds we judged to be more Pine Grosbeaks all coming from and going the same general direction. The view from the ridge top to the basin below the lookout was beautiful. Lots of big animal tracks in the snow crossed and crisscrossed the openings. We turned back towards the car, again following the road. Below the PCT trailhead, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye and looked and stopped my friend – there was a flock of 7 Gray-crowned Rosy-finches feeding on the open spots right next to us on the cut bank! What a treat to see them so close. They were perfectly silent.

Gray-crowned Rosy-finches

Back at the parking lot we saw Mountain Chickadees. We also saw Ravens and a Red-tailed Hawk on our walk. We heard Clark’s Nutcrackers and a Stellar’s Jay. There were bicycle tracks in the snow too! Someone had ridden all the way up, perhaps even to the lookout. We didn’t get that far on foot.

Bicycle tracks in the snow

Slate Peak lookout

We had lunch and drove down to the road that goes to Meadows. Again, lots of interesting tracks. Maybe a lynx? Weasels, coyotes, and no doubt others.

Here are two sets of tracks. One set that we thought might be coyote had been going down the road. The other set that we guessed to be a lynx, had come from the side, then intersected the first set and followed it for quite a ways. There’s a story there, we were sure of it.

We parked and walked back along the road towards Harts Pass. One more highlight was an American Three-toed Woodpecker working the snags. I wondered how often the bird was finding something to eat for all of its efforts. It was joined for a short time by a White-breasted Nuthatch.

The car performed as advertised. I imagine I’ll be happy with it in the long run. Still, I miss the old Honda.

Skies were blue, the snow was powdery, wind was mostly calm, good time spent with a close friend; the whole day was enchanting!

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