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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.

Thursday was one of our first real summer-like days with highs in the valley over 90 and in the mountains, it was 75. Perfect hiking temperature for the two-leggeds. Luna thought it was a bit too hot for her and often sought respite in the shade. The hike is 9.4 miles round trip in bright open sunshine most of the way. I will have to consider that for hikes with Luna who will be thirteen in October. Not that I am ready to leave her behind. I am quite sure it would break her heart if I took Sky hiking and left her at home. Luna is always excited to go for an adventure and bounces with joy at the thought of going someplace in the car.

So many wildflowers. And I have so much to learn. And the geology. Oh my. Lots to see.

Summer has come to an abrupt end. The good news is that wildfires no longer threaten people and their homes and soon the smoke will be gone from the valley.

Last week Mary and I and our pack of dogs headed for Harts Pass and the Pacific Crest Trail. We had a good hike to Grasshopper Pass, going past many PCT thru hikers who were anxious to keep walking. If everything went well for them, they’d be in Canada, 35 miles away, the next day. A few flowers were still blooming and we heard marmots and pikas and we ate a few huckleberries along the way. We had a little sunshine, some breezes, a little misty rain and ever-changing light. It was really lovely.

Honestly, this is my favorite hike. I’m pretty sure. We did it with Molly and Mary in August and you can see it here. It was very different in mid-October with another Mary, and Marcy and Gus and Guthrie too.

Near the end of the hike, I lingered in the sunshine, not ready to let this moment go. I was rewarded by a tiny pika perched within ten feet of me. No doubt, this little guy was relishing the moment in the sunshine too. Pikas, the smallest members of the rabbit family, live in the harsh environment of talus (rock) slopes and they do not hibernate. During the warm months, they gather greens and make ‘hay’ piles, letting them dry before storing them in a dry place under the rocks, to consume during the LONG winter months.

Yesterday the girls and I joined with Molly (remember Molly from last year?) and Mary for a nice hike, mostly above tree line in the North Cascades. We drove through a layer of wildfire smoke to get to the trailhead and found perfect blue skies with fluffy clouds. Ground squirrels and hoary marmots and pikas gave their warning calls as we walked by.  At the end of the hike we could see the smoke column from the Diamond Creek wildfire east of us. In the meantime we were treated to vast vistas of mountains in all directions. We all felt grateful to have this in our ‘backyard’. The dogs were most grateful for the last of the snow and a creek of snow melt leading to a clear refreshing pond for cooling off.

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