Mt. Rainier, the quest continues…

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when Jen and I take in amazing scenery at Mt. Rainier National Park and spend a lot of time not looking at (our high alpine nemesis) White-tailed Ptarmigan.

Visitor center replica keeping hope alive

This time I had a good feeling about the Sunrise area so we started there first. We picked out a campsite at White River Campground (site A18 was da bomb) before hiking the Fremont Lookout Trail. I’ve been once before (the last time I dipped on ptarmigan).

We hiked over 8 miles and saw flocks of American Pipits.

Mountain Bluebirds.

Mountain Chickadees.

And heard no shortage of “Eeps!” from American Pika (aka talus taters) stopping us in our tracks. But we found no ptarmigan.

Consolation potato

After the long hot afternoon hike we turned in early (4pm is the new 6pm), then got up the next morning to try Burroughs Mountain Loop Trail.

It was beautiful. We saw a Peregrine Falcon that turned into a Prairie Falcon.

Rocks that turned into Mountain Goats.

Sky dots that turned into Gray-crowned Rosy Finches.

And Horned Lark hiding in the grasses.

All the alpine species except…

After 7 miles, tired feet and no ptarmigan in sight we conceded defeat. Two days in and two hikes down, we needed a change of scenery so we switched it up and drove to Cougar Rock Campground to try the Paradise side of things.

I was intimidated by this hike for my recovering ankle’s sake, but it turned out fine. We saw many of the same species as on the Sunrise side, and added Western Tanager, Warbling Vireo, Clark’s Nutcracker and the best bird of the trip at the last moment on the trail.

A Sooty Grouse “protecting” the family from a young deer!

A good reminder that nice surprises are around every corner. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll turn around and see a… ptarmigain?

Marmot of nope

The quest continues…

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

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