More Little Critters of Mount Rainer- Part 2

Here’s some more lists of little critters in Mount Rainier National Park!

Beavers:
-Beaver
-Mountain Beaver/Boomer

Canidae:
-Coyote
-Red Fox

Weasels, Skunks & Friends:
-Fisher
-Long Tailed Weasel
-Marten
-Mink
-Short Tailed Weasel/ Ermine
-Spotted Skunk
-Striped Skunk

Other:
-Porcupine
-Raccoon
-Snowshoe Hare/ Varying Hare

There’s a good chance of seeing at least one of these animals when camping out on Mount Rainier, and usually there’s many more to see.  Next time we’ll continue on with lists of some larger animals in Mount Rainier National Park.  God has filled the park with so much life!

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check the latest sales at http://whittakermountaineering.com/

They Come with Spots? – Mount Rainier

It’s always cool to find out that your favorite animal comes in another form you never heard of.  Squirrels and fish that fly, worms that melt, black bears that are brown, albino moose.  It gives you a new perspective, more reasons to like the creature.  It may even make it seem like there are more of that particular animal now that you know there’s another kind.

And considering that last effect, I now introduce you to another of Mount Rainier’s strange inhabitants… the Spotted Skunk!  That’s right, there are more of these delightful creatures in the world than you realized.  And they’re spreading the love just like their stripped cousins.  There are a few types of Spotted Skunks, and the type in Mount Rainier are simply known as the Western Spotted Skunk.

These guys are smaller and faster than their cousins, and they have finer pelts.  And they have the stink cannon too.  They’ll give off a warning before spraying, usually tapping their feet and raising their tail.  Sometimes they’ll even stand on their front legs and lift their rear end, where the spray comes from, up into the air.  Watch out, they can spray accurately up to 15 feet away.  They can pack up to five shots at a time before taking a week to reload.

Hydrogen peroxide or baking soda are the easiest things to use to get rid of a shot of skunk perfume.  Be careful, these can alter hair color on people as well as animals.  Bleach is also effective in getting rid of the odor, but obviously one should be more careful when using bleach.  Your best bet… just stay far away from them.  Don’t leave food out, they’ll get into just about anything an average camper packs to eat.

Some may want to brave finding one of these little guys for the sake of seeing such a unique creature, or maybe even for the sake of adding to their personal photo collection.  The key to finding more of these unique creatures in Mount Rainier… hike through as much of the park as you can.  The more ground you cover, the more chances you’ll have of seeing what few others have seen.  Mt. Rainier has many different terrains, as we have seen in our series on Life Zones.  To safely and comfortably navigate all areas, make sure you’re fully equipped.  The best place to get all your Mount Rainier equipment… Whittaker Mountaineering.  Not only do they likely have whatever gear you’re looking for, they’re also staffed with experts on Mount Rainier.  Check them out at http://www.whittakermountaineering.com/pg/home

Remember to give God glory for all His creativity!!!

Animals of Mount Rainier’s Alpine Zone

After climbing between 6,000-7,500 feet, one may notice a big change… no trees!  The air is freezing cold, snowfields and glaciers can be found.  The flowers grow short, and the animals are few.  It’s the hardest place on the mountain to live, and the air is the best I’ve ever breathed.  This is the Alpine Zone.

This is where we ended our hike from White River campground.  We were at the bottom of Inter-Glacier Snow Field.  If I had to pick any place on Mount Rainier to live in (during the summer at least) that place would be it!  I hear that Panorama Point is another beautiful Alpine area, found at the lower end of Muir Snow Field.

Most of the animals in the Alpine Zone only live there during the summer, when it’s not extremely cold.  Let’s look at a couple that you might see crawling about up there.

Marmot

Marmot

Hoary Marmots are the largest of North America’s ground squirrels.  Because of their high pitched warning whistle, and their pudginess, they’re also called “whistle pigs”.  They hibernate during the colder months in burrows, usually near or under boulders.  During the summer these large rats are seen a lot.  They don’t spook very easily.  Marmots are the largest animals that are regularly seen in the Alpine Zone, although other animals such as bears do venture through this cold region of Mt. Rainier.

Pika

Pika

 

Pikas are another type of critter found in the Alpine Zone of Mount Rainier.  They are small, hamster/chinchilla like Critters.  Like tailless mice, but big and fat with rounded ears.  Like their neighbors, the marmots, they let of a high pitched warning sound when they sense danger.  They’re not as brave as marmots though, if they see people they’ll likely hide.  You’ll have to look a bit harder to see these little guys.

Sometimes they are called “rock rabbits”, “coneys”, or “whistling hares”.  Pikas do not hibernate.  They collect grass, dry it, and stuff it in their burrows for warmth.  And they need all the warmth they can get in this cold area.

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If you’re traveling this high on Mt. Rainier, there’s a good chance you’re going to want to climb up on the snow, and you may possibly be on your way to summit Washington’s greatest peak.  Make sure to get the proper gear, available from Whittaker Mountaineering.  They are experts on climbing and on Mount Rainier, and they can be found at the foot of the mountain.  Currently they offer free shipping on any order over $75.  Check them out!

Thanks for reading, and Lord willing we’ll see you in a couple weeks!  Praise God for our beautiful Mount Rainier!!!

Roaming the Subalpine Zone of Mount Rainier

As you climb between 4,500 and 6,000 feet you’ll notice that the trees begin to thin into the famous meadows of Mt. Rainier.  This is the Subalpine Life Zone of Mount Rainier.  Some argue it is the most beautiful place in all of Washington.  And it isn’t just people that enjoy this area.

Black Tail Deer

Black Tailed Deer

Black Tailed Deer roam all around Mt. Rainier, but they love to graze in the sunbathed subalpine meadows.  These animals are a favorite game for hunters, but here in Mt. Rainier they enjoy protection from hunting.  They are not protected, however, from traffic.  These deer move about mostly during dawn and dusk, when the lack of light makes it somewhat difficult for drivers to see them.  Always be cautious and on the lookout for them when driving during these times.

These may be the most commonly seen large animals in the park.  If you’re quick with the camera you’ll find they pose nicely for your shots.  And thanks to William, my awesome Irish Wolfhound/Siberian Husky mix, I found out that the deer aren’t too spooked by dogs whining at them through car windows.  The deer and dog held each other’s gaze for quite some time.  I really wanted to let the animals interact, but letting my dog out would have been not only illegal, but dangerous for both animals.  At least they shared that moment through the window.

Elk

Elk

Elk can be found in the Subalpine Zone as well.  The moose is the only deer species larger than the elk, and occasionally a large Sambar deer will match an elk’s size.  Like the black tail deer, these big creatures roam about when the sun is close to the horizon.  So be careful when driving through the park at those times, the animal and your car will appreciate it!

The bugling of elks is a well known sound, and very easy to pick out.  The louder a male’s bugle, the more females he will attract.  Sometimes they use their large antlers and powerful front leg kicks to fight for mating rights.  Be careful if you are close to an elk, those antlers and kicks can do a man in.

Other animals can be found in the Subalpine Zone of Mount Rainier.  It’s a good place to get pictures of wildlife, especially during the spring when the meadows are ablaze with color.  God is amazing, and His creations are beautiful!

If you’re camping out in the Subalpine Zone of the mountain, remember that it’s pretty cold at night.  Make sure to pack warm clothes, good sleeping bags, and quality tents.  These and other resources can be found at www.whitakermountaineering.com.  Check out their sales, and remember that submitting a product review could win you $200!

Life in Mt. Rainier’s Pacific Silver Fir Zone

Mount Rainier’s Pacific Silver Fir Zone, also known as the Montane Zone, is found between 2,900 ft and 4,500 ft.  Our favorite campground, White River campground, can be found here.  It’s a beautiful area, lots of fir and pine trees.

It begins to cool down in this zone.  There aren’t many large animals there for hikers and campers to see.  But here’s a small list of what you will find there.

 

 

 

Black Bears roam across many areas of Mt. Rainier National Park, looking for inexperienced campers to scare… well, ok… they don’t really.  And as I found out a few years ago, just because their fur is brown does not mean they are a grizzly coming to eat you!

They love to visit the Pacific Silver Fir Zone, especially in the late summer and early fall.  Low growing huckleberry bushes flood the area with a nice red color, and draw the bears in for huckleberries.  Remember, leave them alone and they should leave you alone.  Do not give them food!

 

445.jpg northern flying squirrel image by camper-mike

Northern Flying Squirrels float about in the Pacific Silver Fir Zone.  These little guys only come out at night.  They love to eat mushrooms, and they also eat nuts, insects, eggs and other small things.  They like to store up lichens and seeds for when food is less abundant.  Make sure to pack up your food and get rid of your garbage, otherwise you’ll have these midnight bandits raiding your campsite.

Often the flying rodents will share nests with others of their kind.  It helps them to keep warm in the winter.  Usually there’s only a few, but one nest was found to have over 50 of them crowding in!  If you happen to be out in the park at night in May or June you’ll likely see them flying about looking for mates.  Take one of these to help you find them in the dark.

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There are lots of other animals in the park, and even in the Pacific Silver Fir Zone.  Remember to leave nature as it is, don’t try to feed the wild animals and don’t get too close to them.  It’s dangerous for them and for you!

If you’re planning a trip to Mt. Rainier National Park, you’ll want to check out some of the good deals from Whittaker Mountaineering at http://www.whittakermountaineering.com/pg/on_sale  These guys know a lot about the park and about climbing Mt. Rainier.  They can guide you to the best products to have for where you’ll be on the mountain, and for what you’ll be doing there.

Remember that as the snow starts to melt, the waterfalls swell with water and beauty.  Go check them out in a couple months, and be careful that you don’t get swept away.

Praise God for this wonderland in the Pacific Northwest!!!  He is so good to us!

 

 

 

 

Critters of Mt. Rainier’s Lowland Forest Zone

God has placed inside the Pacific Northwest a vibrant and beautiful region, known to us as Mount Rainier.  The variety of “life zones” on Mount Rainier creates an environment in which many types of wildlife can live.  The first life zone that one encounters when entering the park is the “Lowland Forest Zone.”  The dense forest shades most of Ohanapecosh, Longmire & Carbon River from sunlight.   A number of animals prefer this environment.

American Beaver.jpg

Beavers love the Lowland Forest Zone of Mt. Rainier.  The waters flow at a slower pace here, making for a gentler place to build their dams and lodges.  These constructs can be made of the softer spruce, fir, cedar or hemlock; though the beavers prefer the harder willows, alders and maples.  The like to eat the inner bark on the harder trees, as well as various roots, water plants and pond algae.

Tamiasciurus douglasii (Oregon coast)

Douglas Squirrels can also be found in the park’s Lowland Forest Zone.  You can tell they’re about when you hear their alarm call… chickareeeee!  These squirrels mostly eat seeds from coniferous trees, but they also like acorns, berries, mushrooms, fruit and even the occasional bird egg.  Unlike most tree squirrels, Douglas Squirrels do not have a cheek pouches to carry their food in.  Wandering through Mount Rainier’s Lowland Forest Zone, one might happen across a pile of pine cone scales.  Douglas Squirrels will use the same pile for years, sometimes over multiple generations.

 

Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons are attracted to the Lowland Forest Zone of Mount Rainier.  Critters like the ones listed above serve as tasty meals for these birds of prey.  Though these birds are often seen there, Mount Rainier’s website states that there are no reports of the birds nesting in the park.  Apparently they like to dine and dash.

The Northern Spotted Owl is another bird of prey that is attracted to Mount Rainier National Park.  They are the only bird species on the USFWS list of threatened & endangered species that call the park home.   These owls like to swallow their prey whole, and vomit up the indigestible parts in pellet form.  Don’t count on seeing much of these owls during the day, as they are mostly nocturnal.

Many other species of animals can be found in the Lowland Forest Zone of Mount Rainier.  For more information on these animals, check out ” A Pocket Field Guide to the Plants and Animals of Mount Rainier,” available at Whittaker Mountaineering‘s online store.

Mount Rainier- Life Zones

I want to start by giving a big thanks once again to Whittaker Mountaineering for helping to bring these weekly posts on Mt. Rainier!

So we’ve started into our series on wildlife in Mount Rainier National Park, and I realized that there is one element we should take a look at before going on any further… Life Zones. 

Because these Life Zones separate where you will typically find specific types of wildlife, it will be good for us to have this sort of “animal map” in mind.  Keep in mind that some animals live across multiple Life Zones, generally driven there and there by the seasons.

These Life Zones also apply to vegetation, which Lord willing we will discuss in future posts.  One of the amazing things about Mount Rainier National Park is that it is one of the few places in Washington where you can see so many life zones in one place.

There are a number of ways to classify and differentiate Life Zones.  Different areas of the world require different systems of classification to account for certain variables.  It would seem that for Mount Rainier the common method of defining Life Zone is by altitude. 

Lowland Forest Zone

The Lowland Forest Zone is the zone in which we enter the park.  Mostly you will find smaller creatures here.  It lies between the 2,000 to 2,900 ft. elevation marks.

Pacific Silver Fir Zone

This zone lies between 2,900 and 4,500 ft, where the air temperature really begins to cool down.  Here you may find squirrels flying around in the trees, and bear cubs up there watching them.

Subalpine Zone

Between 4,500 and 6,000 ft you’ll find the Subalpine Zone.  It’s even colder here than in the Pacific Silver Fir Zone, so look for open meadows so you can soak in some sunlight.    Remember to keep your eyes peeled for elk and deer in this zone!

Alpine Zone

This is where the trees stop.  It starts between 6,000 and 7,500 ft, and goes all the way up to the top of Mt. Rainier (14,410 ft).  Permanent snow and ice can be found here, limiting the number of species that can live here.  Look for big vermin like the Pika or the Marmot.  Alpine insects like the Ice Worm (which “melt” in above freezing temperatures) can also be found here.

With these Life Zones in mind we can have a better idea of where particular creatures can be found on Mt. Rainier.  Tune in next week as we dive further into the wildlife of Mt. Rainier.

A big thanks to ecologist Jim Schaberl, biologist Mason Reid and park ranger/Volunteer Program Manager Kevin Bacher!  All three of these men have a measure of experience on Mt. Rainier, and have given of their valuable time to help make this and future posts possible.

Also, remember to check out this field guide, available from Whittaker Mountaineering.

 Thanks for reading, and praise God who created our beautiful Mt. Rainier!!!

Mt. Rainier- Cascade Red Fox

 A big thanks to Whittaker Mountaineering for helping to make this series on Mt. Rainier possible!

There are many cool animals on Mount Rainier.  Some of them are not exactly “cuddly” looking.  They’re big, with big teeth, or dangerous claws, or maybe they’re dirty and they stink.  You don’t want to pick them up and pet them.  You don’t even want to be near them.

But animals like the Cascade Red Fox are a different story.  They look more like something you want to pick up and play with.  Unique among foxes, they have bigger ears, softer thicker coats, and bushier tails that are quite large compared to their bodies. 

Unfortunately, too many visitors to Mt. Rainier have let the “cuteness” of these unique foxes get the best of them.  While people aren’t picking the foxes up and taking them home, they have been feeding them.  And there’s a good reason why that’s against the park rules.

Mt. Rainier has a lot of traffic flowing throughout the year.  When people throw food out to the animals from their cars, it draws the animals closer to the road.  Sometimes the foxes will even build their burrows close to the road for this very reason.  And it’s not hard to figure out the problem there.  The foxes aren’t so cute and thankful after being hit by a car.

Feeding the foxes has also created a “pest” problem at campsites and visiting centers.  The foxes have begun snooping around camps and getting into cars, looking for food.  This puts both the fox and the campers in a dangerous situation.  Each is capable of harming the other.

The population of Cascade Red Foxes is already a concern on Mt. Rainier.  Feeding the foxes not only ruins the wild element of the park, a big part of what makes one desire to visit the mountain, but it makes it even less likely that one will be able to see these foxes in the future.

Please remember to respect the Park and its inhabitants.  More information on the problem of feeding Cascade Red Foxes at Mt. Rainier can be found here.  For general information on wildlife in Mount Rainier National Park check out this field guide, available from Whittaker Mountaineering.

Foundation Week- December ’08

Thanks for the ideas, suggestions for this month are now closed.  Please go to “Through the Fire- December ’08” to vote!

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Got some crazy ideas that you want to see thrown together into short stories and the like?

 

Wondering if you can give a writing challenge too difficult for an author to accomplish?

 

Bring it on!

 

Partake in the monthly feature: “The Writer’s Challenge”.  You brainstorm the story elements, you choose the story elements, and I write the short story.  This will be written from a Christian world view, so I thank you ahead of time for keeping it clean (inappropriate posts will be deleted). 

 

This first week is dedicated to brainstorming, and any related material needs to be presented as a reply to this post.  This is your opportunity to post your story elements, whether they be elements you think are cool or elements you think I don’t have the skills to handle.  Feel free to include any of the following:

  Mood (funny, serious, adventurous, etc…)

  Genre (fantasy, modern, sci-fi, etc…)

  Characters

  Settings

  Plot elements

  Items (weapons, possessions, animals, relics, etc…)

 

Please use headings for your choices so I’ll have an easier time gathering them.  If you have something that doesn’t fit under one of these categories, you can use the heading “Other”.  Please do not comment on replies from other people, there will be opportunity for this later.  Any ideas for the month must be posted before the week ends.

 

Please see the “Writer’s Challenge” page for further details.

 

Let’s make a story!