Friday, July 4, 2014

Little Giant Basin...

Little Giant Basin...  After our long day yesterday, we slept in ('till 6 am!) and took it easy in the morning. Debbie made us a lovely bacon and egg breakfast, and we didn't even leave the cabin until around 8 am. It was very nice to have a slow, easy day after yesterday.

On our way down the cabin road, we saw a pair of gray jays – had great viewing of them for several minutes. I stopped to walk around in the orange columbine that grows in profusion along the cabin road, at about the 10,800' level. I now have better photos of orange columbine than any I've taken before – it's easy when there are hundreds of times as many of them as you've ever seen before!

We drove nice and slow up to Little Giant Basin, but had to stop a few hundred feet short of the actual basin because of snow in the road. We had the place to ourselves for a half hour or so, which was lovely. We saw the giant pikas again (as we first spotted last year), and the marmots teased our dogs. We collected some rocks for Gracie, including some particularly nice crystals similar to what you'd find in a geode.

Our peace was disturbed all too soon, though, when three ATVs and a jeep all roared up and disgorged 10 or so people. The pikas and marmots all hid as noise and chaos filled the air. We left shortly thereafter.

After we left Little Giant Basin, we headed back down the road to Big Giant Basin, just a mile or so. We stopped there to have our lunch and watch the pikas collecting food. We saw the expected things: marmots, pikas, and chipmunks – but we also saw something most unexpected: a short-tailed weasel (Mustela ermina)! We got to watch the weasel for five minutes or so as it was apparently hunting. We don't know what it was hunting, but it didn't look like the pikas were worried. We're guessing the weasel was after smaller prey.

Just before we left, I got out to find a tree to water (in other words, I needed to take a pee). I flushed a doe and a fawn (the first fawn we've seen!), and I got up close and personal with one of the teensy little chipmunks that are so common here. He stood up on a log and just looked at me disdainfully. Debbie missed out on these sightings, much to her chagrin. My future pee outings may be accompanied :)

After an hour or so, we headed lazily down toward town. We were immediately sorry we did – it was horribly crowded, traffic was terrible (in Silverton!), and there were touristy types everywhere you looked. We got outta Dodge and headed back for a lazy evening at the cabin.

The town was sopping wet from a rainstorm they'd had earlier in the day. We got sprinkled on, but nothing more. We definitely could use a lot more rain. Ten inches wouldn't hurt a darned thing!

Orange columbine
Typical orange columbine group
Orange columbine
Spotted saxifrage
Purple fringe and
unidentified common flower
Near Little Giant Basin
More of the unidentified common flower
Pond in Little Giant Basin
Unidentified, uncommon flower
Moss campion
Buttercups and pearly everlasting
Scarlet paintbrush

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