August 04, 2006


During our week we reached two summits, Sacagawea Peak (9665 ft.) north of Bozeman in the Bridger Range, and Hyalite Peak (10,299 ft.) south in the Gallatin Range. We also climbed to a high lake, Lava, in the Madison Range. On the trail to Lava Lake my sister-in-law pointed out well-known mountaineer Conrad Anker, hiking with his family and definitely not carrying the 10 essentials, nor looking much like he needed them.

Dominant birds of the pines we hiked through included yellow-rumped warblers (Audubon subspecies), flickers, chickadees, and juncos. Instead of the jays and nutcrackers I expected to be as common as robins on a Midwestern lawn, I saw... robins. I also combed creeks for dippers, one of the most amazing American birds.

Halfway up Sacagawea Peak, the rock/vegetation ratio suddenly rose. In the cover of scrub and tree islands I found yellow-rumped warblers and white-crowned sparrows, plus a blue grouse that I flushed. Below a saddle, in a rocky bowl with patches of wildflowers, American pipits pumped their tails and a longtail weasel moved from boulder to boulder.

Finally on the Hyalite hike I saw my Clark's nutcrackers in the pines near Hyalite Creek. Past the trees on the way to the summit, at around 9500 ft., four yellow-bellied marmots sprawled across rocks, one whistling a warning. Here I also puzzled out a Cordilleran flycatcher, less exotic than it sounds; it was the western flycatcher until splitting into two species in 1989.


Anonymous Allison said...

Jaw-dropping, beautiful picture of Hyalite Creek. Looks a little like Luckiamute River in Oregon...but prettier.


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