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Tag Archives: Tiffany Mountain

Red Molly joined us for a lovely hike in the mountains earlier this week. The weather was darned near perfect – sunny and warm but not too warm. It is a dry hike so I carried water for the dogs. There is one spring just off the trail about 1/3 of the way up and Luna knows where to find it. It’s generally more of a mud hole but this time it held a little bit of running water.

Views were outstanding and the flowers are just starting at that elevation (6500 up to 8200 feet). Ladybugs were abundant. I don’t know why they converge at high elevations. I have observed them at this mountain top several times over the years as well as at other places in the Cascades. There are many kinds of ladybugs (technically a beetle, not a bug) and many of them are convergent. I have no idea what they are eating up there and when they will leave for more friendly habitats. I do know that later in the summer, they won’t be there, based on my observations which are not science-based at all. Is anyone studying them?

Here are the birds I saw on this hike: Dusky Grouse, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Clark’s Nutcracker, Common Raven, Horned Lark, Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Mountain Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire, Cassin’s Finch, Pine Siskin, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Savannah Sparrow, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Western Tanager.

I like this hike. Here is the trail in the fall.

This hike had just about everything – stunning fall colors, lingering wildflowers, grand vistas, perfect weather, wildlife sightings. Oh my.

We got out early and made the long and arduous drive to the Freezeout trailhead in order to hike up to 8000 plus foot Tiffany Mountain. The road is rocky but passable for most cars. It just takes a while. And I took even longer because I kept stopping to look at and photograph the fall colors. Some of the aspens were a vivid orange red instead of yellow. The dogs were getting anxious since I wasn’t letting them out. At the trailhead, while I was fiddling with my gear and before the dogs were out of the car, I heard a strange bellowing sound. It was something I’d never heard before. Bigfoot? I didn’t hear any thrashing around in the brush and wasn’t sure what to make of it but I had an idea of what it was.

The dogs wore their orange vests because it is hunting season for bear and grouse and also archery deer season. I had hardly seen anyone along the way but I figured it was better to be safe. The car said it was 45 degrees in the sun and on the shaded trail I found frost. There were some migrating raptors, mostly accipitors that I identified – Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks. There were lots of Clark’s Nutcrackers gathering seeds and making raucous calls. Chickadees and kinglets and bluebirds and juncos too. I saw a pika in the rocks near the mountain top.

The larches were vivid. The golden needles against the blue sky takes my breath away. The views that unfolded as I walked above the treeline were also breathtaking. I could see the North Cascades all the way to Mount Baker. Farther south, there was Glacier Peak. And I could see the continuing smoke from the Crescent Mountain wildfire. It will burn til the snow falls.

When we were returning to the trailhead, I heard some thrashing through the brush ahead and to the right. And then a cow moose crossed the trail not 100 feet ahead of us and she was followed by a bull moose! So that was the sound I heard earlier. The bull moose was bugling! It all happened pretty fast so no photos. There are moose in various places around this region but you just don’t see them very often.

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year here. So far. It reached 100 on the valley floor. Sheesh. Did I mention that we are completely without air conditioning for at least another couple of weeks? It’s enough to make a girl and her dogs crazy.

We drove up Boulder Creek to the Freezeout Pass trailhead and headed up the trail to 8242 foot Tiffany Mountain. It was 73 when we started. I was soon sweating on the steep trail through the burned forest. Many trees have blown over since last summer (sort of like the situation at my house) so there was quite a bit of clambering over and around the deadfall. Once we got out of the trees, it was the same steep, rocky ascent to the summit. Horned Larks were all around us. This is a place where they nest each summer. The snow has only recently melted up there but already it’s very dry and dusty most of the way along the trail. Wildflowers are just getting started. They could use a little bit of rain but none is in the long range forecast. At the top, the view was the best I’ve ever seen up there. Not a cloud in the sky and little haze either. I could see Mount Baker and Glacier Peak to the west and Moses Mountain to the east. And there wasn’t much wind either. On the way down, the wind picked up and I didn’t linger in the burned forest. The trees groaned and creaked and swayed in the wind.

We stopped at Boulder Creek to cool our feet on the way home. The dogs probably enjoyed that part more than the hike. I experimented with using my knee as tripod to get some pretty water images.

Back at home, it was 87, in the house.

Mary had to cut her Washington vacation short rather abruptly when a wildfire threatened her community and even her home. So far her place is safe and hopefully will stay that way. She was able to get some stuff out when she returned and then stayed at a place out of danger. With fires threatening people and landscapes all over the west, we all seem to live in a state of fear during the summer.

But for one day, before the fire, we enjoyed a beautiful hike in the high country, going to the top of 8000 foot Tiffany Mountain. It was sunny and cool and NOT buggy! Once again we had incredible views – this time into the Pasayten Wilderness, the Sawtooth Mountains and even into the Okanogan Highlands. A perfect mountain day.

The weather forecast indicated about 20% chance of rain in the mountains yesterday. Around here, that means it’s not likely to rain. It was sunny and reasonably warm at home when the girls and I left for the 6500′ Freezeout Trailhead and the hike to Tiffany Mountain. The temperature was 46 degrees Fahrenheit and it was sunny when we started walking. Good weather for an uphill hike to the 8242′ summit.

In the burned forest (this is part of the Tripod burn from ten years ago) I heard and saw numerous birds, including lots of young ones with adults searching for food to feed the nestlings.

When we walked away from the trees, the sky was solidly overcast but still no sign of rain. Nearing the top, I started to feel occasional pelts of small hail. At the top, it was obvious that the weather was going to take a turn for the worse. We shared my peanut butter sandwich and I put on my extra layers (two coats, gloves and a wool hat) and tucked my camera away. Normally we would linger on the mountain top and look around for more birds and flowers and maybe ladybugs but not this time. It was hailing pretty solidly by then. And as we walked downhill it was soon raining. We didn’t notice the birds or flowers much on the way down. Still, it never got too cold and it wasn’t windy and I had the right extra gear with me. Overall it was a nice day.

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