Mountainside Memories

Well, Happy 4th of July everyone! Hope your summer adventures are off and running. Mine...well, they are just getting better and better with each adventure I make. I've spent a lot of time hiking up the mountain sides looking for whatever I come across. The higher I hike, the better the view. And as always stopping to spend some good quality time with some mountinside wildlife. Yes, call me crazy, but how many of you know what a hoary marmot or a collared pika is or have ever seen one up close. Both of these animals I find farther up the mountain side above the tree line. Now why would anyone in their right mind hike up, stop and spend time with these creatures? Because you're in their neighborhood and they deserve a closer look. Hoary marmots make their home in and around large groups of rocks. The rocks provide shelter as well as a look out for any predators. So this time of year they're out and about eating and looking for a mate as well. You will hear them call before you spot one. Then as my curiosity peaks I find where they are calling, scanning the rocky groupings and make my way slowly over to them. And, as always patience and persistence pays off, coming away with some spectacular mountainside memories to share with others who don't get that kind of experience. Or just plum wonder why anyone would want to get a closer look at these creatures, let alone spend any kind of time with them .
As I continue hiking up never maintaining a steady direction, yet another shrill call comes out. Looking in the direction I see out of the corner of my eye a small creature running around another pile of rocks. Why, yes from my travels before as well as educating myself, it's a Pika, or Collared Pika. This little creature is part of the rabbit family. The large ears are a hint. Grey in color with white on their chest and belly with short legs. Fur covered feet but bare toe pads. Their sharp curved claws help them climb from rock to rock. They let out a shrill bark about every 6 seconds, advertising their boundaries and warning other colony members of intruders. Naturally, I've learned in obsevation how to respond back, thus standing in one spot with the pika running in and out of the rocks around me, calling and playing a game of hide and seek. To me this is time well spent. Pika are found at higher elevations. These little rock rabbits are most active during the morning and late afternoon and do not hibernate like marmots. I've spent alot of time watching, observing, photographing and learning about marmots and pikas
in my travels up to higher elevations.
It's just part of the experience of hiking out there, watching and observing, and educating ones self. Sharing the end result, getting the best picture I can to share with my trail buddys who stop in for a look to see what I'm up to. As always, out and about and very busy over the summer months. It's the thrill of the adventures. I hope in all of your adventures you take the time to watch, observe, learn and listen to the natural wonders that are out there for all of us. Hey, it's free entertainment! But more than that, it just makes for a wonderful experience at a higher elevation leaving good mountainside memories. Lord knows where Qulibert has wondered off to! Hey see you up high somewhere.
Buford T. Porcupine


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