Jay checking out the view and the snow! (no that’s not a bird in the sky…that’s a skeeter!)
While eating dinner, it didn’t take long for us to notice the abundance of mosquitoes that also shared our camp…yeehaw! We were not excited about putting more icky-sticky bug spray on, but soon found a way to avenge ourselves, while keeping us entertained at the same time :)
For counts in the morning, we got to hike on many steep and rocky slopes, and even got to hang out in the snow for a while! It was beautiful scenery, and we got to see lots of cool things, including a momma and baby elk, my ‘lifer’ Pikas squeaking at us from the slopes (ohhh, so very cute!), and some higher elevation birds we hadn’t seen much on counts this summer: Pine Grosbeaks, Williamson’s Sapsuckers, and Three-toed Woodpeckers!
After counts we had to return to the highway to get to our next route at Beaver Creek … it was then that we discovered Smiley Creek Lodge! We ordered a tasty burger and a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich, and it was amazing! (mmm, what a change from peanut butter on a tortilla for lunch!)
Then it was on to Beaver Creek, with another fun road and some more of the cool high elevation birds. We set up in a nice stand of spruce, and right in our (mosquito infested) camp we were able to hear a Golden-crowned Kinglet singing (my first time hearing their song)!
After counts and another trip to eat more of the very addicting food at Smiley Creek Lodge, we headed up to Rainbow Creek, the next site for our point counts. For these counts, we had to leave my car at a campground and backpack in with our supplies to our starting point, about 1.5 miles. After cooling our feet in a mountain stream, we sat down on a log for dinner. We noticed some little green poops on the log, and Jay said they were grouse poo. Then while setting up camp for the night, we were clearing rocks and heard 2 clacking noises from near the road. It sounded like a rock hitting something, but neither of us had thrown a rock over there. We peeked around the trees onto the road, and there we got our first glimpse of ‘Jacques’ the Spruce Grouse! And he was not happy to see us! Apparently we were setting up camp next to his favorite strutting logs, and he was trying to scare us away from them :) We were able to get really close to him as he continued to clack his wings and display at us. He even came toward us a few times! As I set up my tent, he flew to the tree right above me and sat watching as I took over his territory. We couldn’t help but imagine what Jacques was trying to say to us, and Jay soon mustered up his best frenchy accent: “hey you! Get away from my log, eh?” “what are you doing, eh?” ...I think maybe you just had to be there…. ;)
Jacques was very cute……and by cute of course I mean ferocious and brave ;)
Lucky for us, we were able to find a nice spot for dinner where some very fast winds from a brewing thunderstorm provided some relief from the skeeters. We ate our peanut butter and honey tortillas in peace before: returning to camp, slapping the skeeters that had followed me into the tent, and falling asleep to the sound of the rain. We continued to enjoy the scenery the next day and had a fun time after counts were over with snow angels and a snowball fight, in July! :) It was kind of hot as we picked up our stuff and headed down the mountain, so we were happy when a light drizzle of rain and some thunder came along to cool us off.