Chinook Pass in the Wind!
- CHINOOK PASS HIKE
5 OCTOBER 2008
Ellen and myself and four friends from Seattle enjoyed clear but cold
weather and again (same route as last weekend) hiked from Chinook Pass
north to Sourdough Gap. Last weeks snowfall had thankfully mostly melted.
With stiff north winds in exposed sites I thought it a perfect day for
raptors to migrate. Not so. I don't know where they were but they were not
in view today. Fall color was again a highlight on this trek. The
blueberries were a deep purple to black and the mountain ash a bright yellow
contrasting with orange berries.
We started the day off with an American Three-toed Woodpecker in the snags
at the parking lot. Three-toes are an uncommon species here, usually only in
the denser forests. This bird was working a snag right at the overlook,
pretty neat. A Sooty Grouse just a short distance along the trail was
another cool sighting. Just before Sheep Lake we found one Pine Grosbeak.
Otherwise, birding was only fair.
The views were stupendous as the sky was cloudless and the air dry so every
ridgeline and treetop was sharply etched against the deep blue sky. At
times, especially at Sourdough Gap, the wind blew fiercely and the cold was
biting. We retreated quickly to the south-facing slopes where it was calmer.
It was even pleasant at one of these stops which we declared lunch, though
the temperature was only a little above freezing.
On the meadows high above the west shore of Sheep Lake we admired two
Mountain Goat billies in their ivory-white winter coats, looking very smart.
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 2
Sooty Grouse - 1
Am. Three-toed Woodpecker - 1
Northern Flicker - 3
Gray Jay - 5
Clark's Nutcracker - 1
Common Raven - 5
Mountain Chickadee - 5
Chestnut-backed Chickadee - 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 0!
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 10
Townsend's Solitaire - 1
American Robin - 3
Varied Thrush - 5
Golden-crowned Sparrow - 5+
Dark-eyed Junco - 10
PINE GROSBEAK - 1
Pine Siskin - 5
Evening Grosbeak - 2
Andy and Ellen Stepniewski