on the superior education one doubtless receives from the eeking of chubby little pikas in the Cascade Mountains on a fine autumn day

Seattle School District teachers are striking and so Adam has missed the first three days of second grade. This is fine with me because the silver lining to the shitstormy impasse between teachers and the school board is that Adam and I had a day to ourselves for field tripping to the Cascades (Oliver Fern stayed home with Grandma, who is here for another week before she heads back to Lake Michigan Country).

It was just about perfect sunny day weather for walking although it was a tad warm in the big, steep avalanche chute that represents the main price for entry to marvelous heather-and-granite wonderland. We were such lollygagging looky-lous we didn’t arrive at the Hidden Lake fire lookout until mid-afternoon. Tuckered out from fresh air and sunshine, we lay half-awake for some time below the airy shack. I found myself alternately dozing and startling at the innocent scritching-scratching of Adam’s shirt sleeves against our granite slab. This station was an exposed summit block below the lookout and it was hard to let my guard down, notwithstanding threats of extreme parental-induced bodily harm to Adam if he moved any closer to the edge of the scary precipice without express written permission in addition to the smudgy stamp of a notary public. We lingered as long as possible in the hopes of nicer light so I could shoot some afternoon pictures but it was another one of those beautiful bluebird days that are mainly good for feeling glad to be alive. We lay there drowsily monitoring fluffy flower seeds floating past in the blue sky.  The image below is of Adam at the col below the fire lookout. Exhibit one: New school sneakers, hahaha!

Our tally for the day: A juvenile marmot, a trio of nonchalant ptarmigans, one very chubby pika (not counting variously unseen eekers) and a toad near Sibley Creek. Adam and I unanimously concluded the eeking sound from pikas has to be one of the snuggliest, cuddliest noises in mother nature. The perfumey fragrance of by-gone flowers below Sibley Pass was intoxicating, we paused a dozen times to stand in place and just smell. Adam played in a left-over snow bank. We whittled down the bag of Starbursts just a bit more.

The last mile of the walk was in woods and it coincided with a startling bright sunset that brought every shadow to life in razor-edged fineness. Adam made us stop a few times so we could admire how the light turned everything pure gold- after so much pika-eeking it was one last treasure of the day. And our feet were just dang hurting over all those rocks and roots.

7 thoughts on “on the superior education one doubtless receives from the eeking of chubby little pikas in the Cascade Mountains on a fine autumn day

  1. Absolutely intriguing post TF. Shared it with my husband and he found it quite emotional, having had a dad who dragged him all over Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. They climbed Mt. Katahdin when Glenn was eight. Then for good measure climbed Mt. Washington the next day! He holds those memories so dear now that Pa is gone. Thanks for sharing your wonderful adventures with us!

    • And Ilona, thank you for sharing about Glenn’s reflections on time spent with his father. It’s humbling and inspiring to think of him being transported to his own personal memories. And that’s really cool, about Mt. Katahdin and Mt. Washington…..for years i’ve wanted pretty bad to go to Maine for an autumn color tour and explore Acadia National Park and especially to take the time to branch off to Baxter State Park and go up the “knife-ridge” of Katahdin.
      -Jason

  2. This is the first time I’ve heard someone describe the sound a pika makes as “eeking.” That captures it perfectly! It IS such a cuddly little sound – even though the pikas may not think so!

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