Fall is rapidly approaching here. We finally got a couple days of clouds and intermittent rain. It even snowed in higher elevations (above 9000') on the night of the 23rd-24th. The aspen and cottonwood trees are starting to turn yellow, advancing the seasons early because of lack of water and cooler nighttime temperatures.
I got to lead the Beaver Pond hike on Wednesday, something I can't recall doing more than once or twice since graduating from my internship. It was fun, since I know the area so well and it's so different since the fire burned about 1/3 of the forest along the trail. What really struck me was how all the grasses and plants were yellow and dry, except for in the areas that burned last year, which were all lush, green, and leafy. I was so impressed, I came back the next morning with my camera.
It's not advisable to hike alone or quietly, but I did both. I didn't want to disturb the very peaceful scene on the trail that morning. Black-backed woodpeckers were drumming on the trees, and the sound echoed off all the trees for miles and the sound lingered in the air for several seconds after the act. I even saw some elk on the trail at close range; no sooner did they see me than they turned and ran away into the woods to the tremendous crashing and snapping of brush. I have never seen elk on the trail, even though I always suspected elk lived there. A great-horned owl hooted away long into the morning as I was photographing the vast fields of fireweed in the burned forest. On my exit of the trail, I saw a huge gang of crows and magpies in the field trying to bully a sharp-shinned hawk. I wasn't sure who was harassing whom in that situation.
Another day at Logan Pass went by and the goats, sheep, and ground squirrels were up to their usual antics. One day soon, the squirrels will go back underground and I will be able to rest - no more incessant chirping or misbehaving visitors. It's amazing how one little animal can captivate so many people every day, but it is a weird little thing that most of them have never seen.