365 Nature – Day 227

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


We got up early and broke down our camp quickly so we could get back up on the mountain before the crowds this morning. Since yesterday we’d climbed the Skyline Trail, we decided to go up through the valley this time to see a different perspective. The flowers were just as beautiful as I expected, Magenta Paintbrush and Alpine Lupine were abundant and many of the flowers we saw yesterday were also in bloom. As we started to climb, the lupine turned the meadow purple and at one point the air was filled with a floral aroma in the warm sun.

We spotted many Hoary Marmots again, several right next to the trail. At one point, one marmot crossed the trail and we were stuck, not wanting to scare it, yet wanting to pass by and continue our walk. We eventually tried to go by and it ran back down the trail. Up higher we spotted young marmots and a large one that dove into a burrow right next to the path. Up higher, on the talus slopes we watched for Pika and we thought we heard one, or more, several times, but much staring at rocks didn’t yield any sightings.

We climbed quite high and crossed a small creek that was lined with mosses and low-growing flowers. There were small black moths up high and quite a few butterflies. The horse flies were obnoxious and tormented me. I watched one with mesmerizing green eyes walk on my pants before I shooed it away. More than once I knocked them to the ground as I swatted them away from my head.

As we walked back down I saw more butterflies, many of which I was able to photograph, but many that I didn’t see land. There were swallowtails and several orane butterflies that never slowed down enough to get a look at. Near the bottom, by a waterfall a bug mimicking a bee caught my eye and it was just different enough to make me stop. It was small and I suddenly realized it looked like a bee mimicking moth.

I’m glad we braved the crowds, something I try to avoid at all costs usually, because Paradise Meadows is really beautiful. I’ve been there before, but it was late in the season and few flowers were in bloom. Going earlier in the morning was a great deal, no parking problems, few people on the trails and abundant wildlife. It was also worth the walk higher up because nearly everyone stopped at the waterfall. It didn’t take long to leave the crowds behind.

Kelly Brenner
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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She founded The Metropolitan Field Guide in 2009 and has contributed articles to aincluding Crosscut, ParentMap and National Wildlife Magazine. She holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.

She is currently writing a book about urban nature to be published by Mountaineers Books in 2019.
Kelly Brenner
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