Early Summer Hikes

Each season brings its own special delights. In the early summer, once the grass has turned green and the wildflowers begin to dot the hillsides and meadows, hiking becomes my favorite pastime. Not that hiking isn't ALWAYS my favorite pastime, but in the early summer it seems there is a new wildflower around every corner, a new bird to identify just up the way, new tracks or scat to observe underfoot, and regular glimpses of large and small wildlife to punctuate the experience!

And so, it was with impatience I awaited the chance to enjoy my second annual hike up around Hidden Lake and to the lakes beyond. I hike extensively around the lodge, but hikes into the area around Hidden Lake are more rare because of the additional time involved. So, when an opportunity arose, I took it. Never mind the weather was less than perfect. Nevermind my time was more limited than normal. What are a few little challenges when offered an opportunity to explore?

Early in the day, Hidden Lake offered a few glimpses of ducks and some happy little birds to serenade on our 'parade'.

No big game presented themselves for our perusal, but their tracks and scat told us they weren't far away. Goose Lake offered a Trumpeter Swan. In fact, as we approached the lake (quietly contrary to what you are 'supposed' to do in bear country), it was feeding near the shore totally impervious to our presence. In an effort to avoid startling it, we stopped and waited until it lifted its head, saw us, and swam away. Our efforts were rewarded. The swan swam quietly across the small lake as we took a water and snack break.

No Audobon Warblers hopping around our feet this time. However, in such wild country, beautiful things are nearby - you just have to look for them. So, while the birds were not as abundant, I enjoyed the wildflowers. I found a few I knew such as Rock Clematis:

The wild strawberries were in bloom too:

One of the most interesting things I noticed, plant wise, was a brilliant orange fungus growing on the Low Growing Juniper. While it is probably nothing new, this is the first time I have noticed this phenomenon:

To my disappointment I did not find the Sandhill Cranes from last year. It could be they were still on their nest. It could be they were just out of sight. I had already decided not to poke around too much for fear of disturbing them when I started hearing a very unique sound from the nearby thick stand of timber. Something like a snuffing - but sounding like it was coming from a quite large animal - accompanied by a soft moaning. I approached the edge of the grove and peered in. The sound did not diminish, and I could hear no sound of movement. However, I decided sometimes the better part of valor (or intelligence) is to back away. So, I did.

My suspicions - a bear. Do I know for sure? Obviously not! But, then again, I'm still around to tell you about it, so. . .if nothing else it makes for a good story!

On the way back, I spent a lot of time looking for new and unusual wildflowers to add to my growing list of identified plants. In fact, I would have tried to identify these new 'specimens', but I have loaned out my flower book to a guest. So. . .maybe you can tell me?

While my primary focus was around my feet, I did managed to get a nice look at a pair of Yellow Belly Marmots posing on what I have dubbed "Picture Rock" along the shores of Hidden Lake. She was a bit more shy, but he hung around for the photo shoot.

The day ended memorably - with a couple of up-close and personal squirrel encounters. I know, you are wondering why that was any big deal? Because, when you are wandering through a quiet wood and have the tree trunk next to you erupt with the scurry of nails on bark followed by a sharp reprimend (especially after hearing a 'bear' or something in the woods), it gives just the right amount of adrenalin push to finish the walk. So, we end with my Pine Squirrel friend. Maybe he didn't consider me a friend, but he sure was curious about the bright light flashing below him!

Maybe next time I can tell you about hiking up into the Horse Creek bowl - nothing spectacular but certainly some gorgeous, wild country!

Lady of the Lake

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