Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sauk Mountain

Red Columbine on Sauk Mountain (Photos by Narca)

At the end of our stay in the Pacific Northwest, Alan and I join our friend Jim for a hike in the North Cascades, up Sauk Mountain. End-of-summer flowers cloak the slopes, attended by many worn butterflies. The narrow mountain trail switch-backs up the steep slope to a high pass, where Hoary Marmots lounge atop giant boulders. Clouds drift across the heights.

Drifting clouds on Sauk Mountain

When we have climbed high enough, we are rewarded with a view of lordly Mt. Baker, an active volcano which dominates the skyline, much as Rainier does further to the south.

Mt. Baker towers above the ridge

Crystal clear mountain air is always exhilarating, and each rise or bend of the trail brings immense vistas of the North Cascade range and the Skagit River far below. Closer at hand, parnassians and fritillaries flit past, and one new butterfly is fairly common: the tiny Anna's Blue.

See the subtle orange chevrons on these Anna's Blues?
Female Anna's Blues sport copper tones above.

One bird which surprises us is a Prairie Falcon that soars past, before spiraling above the high pass.

Prairie Falcon (Pen & ink by Narca)

We lunch at a high point, where the land drops away in steep ridges, with lakes tucked into the folds. As a child, living for much of the year in the flatlands of Texas, I hungered for the high country. Today all of my senses awaken.

View from the ridge of Sauk Mountain

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