Bigger Critters of Mt. Rainier

There are enough little critters in Mount Rainier National Park to keep people interested year after year.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Mount Rainier is full of life one could hardly expect to see it all.

There are a few big cats that roam around the mountainside.  They are rarely seen by people though, so you don’t have to worry much about being attacked by one.  Just remember to keep animals on a leash and to not let small children wonder off.  Keeping your food packed up and your campsite clean will also add safety to your visit.  And if you see one… don’t pet it.

Here are three of the parks big furballs…

Puma/Cougar/Mountain Lion:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bobcat:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lynx (not seen in the park since 1906)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve posted before on a couple of the deer, but here are some more pictures…

Elk/Wapiti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Tailed Deer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mule Deer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The deer I’ve seen around the park, and it’s cool every time.  I’m still hoping to see a big cat!  The more we can get out there to camp on Mt. Rainier the more chances we’ll have to see one.  And it’s that time again to resupply for summer camping.  Time for a visit to Whittaker Mountaineering!

I’ve probably said this a hundred times, but I know it’s truer every time I think about it… God is amazing!!!  If it’s overwhelming to see His creatures here in this world, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like to see the heavenly ones someday!  Praise God!!!

More Little Critters of Mount Rainer- Part 1

Mount Rainier is bursting with life, and these blogs have only begun to scratch the surface.  Let’s take a step back for a moment and see some lists of small critters in this beautiful National Park.

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Shrews:
-Common / Masked Shrew
-Dusky Shrew
-Marsh Shrew
-Trowbridge Shrew
-Wandering Shrew
 
 
 
 
 
Mice, Rats and Voles
-Deer Mouse
-Gapper’s Red-Backed Mouse
-Heathervole
-Jumping Mouse
-Long-Tailed Vole
-Pack Rat/ Bushy Tailed Woodrat
-Townsend’s Vole
-Watervole
 
 
 
 
 
Marmots, Squirrels & Chipmunks
-Douglas Squirrel
-Golded-Mantled Ground Squirrel
-Hoary Marmot
-Northern Flying Squirrel
-Townsend’s Chipmunk
-Yellow Pine Chipmunk
 
 
Moles:
-Coast Mole
-Shrew Mole
-Townsend Mole
 
 
Other:
-Northern Pocket Gopher
-Pika

Next time we’ll look some lists of larger small critters.  Until then, make sure you visit Mount Rainier, and don’t forget to stock up on supplies from Whittaker Mountaineering!

Praise God for His creation!!!

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!

 

 

 

 

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.

Bear, Run! (Mt. Rainier)

Mount Rainier is an amazing sight to behold.  It’s a beautiful place to be.  It’s a fun mountain to visit.  And it’s a good place to learn about many things.  I personally partook in a great lesson a few years ago… when we encountered a massive bear.  And by massive I mean… well, let me explain.

 

My wife and I had never seen a bear in the wild.  Many of our friends have had experiences with bears.  And we were always told that Brown Bears were not to be messed with.  They said Black Bears were not really a threat, unless you behave foolishly.  But what we were not told is that those names do not necessarily reflect the actual color of fur on the bear.  Specifically, we were never told Black Bears can be brown.

 

Now, take a couple with this mindset, and add in a few kids screaming (with their parents chasing behind them) that a bear’s coming to get them, and put all these people on a 5 foot wide hiking trail with nowhere to go on either side.  Then add in the brown bear that, because of the angle and pathway, looks to be well over 6ft tall at the hunches and somewhere around 1000 pounds.

 

You don’t have any happy campers here.

 

But as it turns out, Mount Rainier is not home to any actual Brown Bears…though it does temporarily house uneducated campers.  As you have probably already guessed, things worked out just fine with the bear (it was actually pretty small), and nobody was hurt.  We look back and laugh pretty hard now, but at the time we thought it was the bitter end for us.

 

It’s easy to avoid an experience like this by taking some time to learn about the wildlife at Mount Rainier.  In fact, you can find a greater enjoyment if you know what to look for, and how to react when you’re around the animals.

 

So I’ll be doing a series of posts on the wildlife in Mount Rainier National Park.  We’ll attempt to look at what animals live in the park, where to find them, and what to do if you do happen to find them.  We’ll also take a look at policies and issues related to bringing pets to Mount Rainer.

 

I want to encourage you to post comments, questions, and suggestions for material to cover in future Mount Rainier posts.  Posts on Mount Rainier will likely be a regular weekly installment on this blog, Lord willing, and I hope you will all enjoy them.  I hope we can all look and see what an amazing thing God has done in regards to this truly majestic place in the Pacific Northwest.

 

For more information on Mt. Rainier or for mountaineering resources, check out Whittaker Mountaineering.