My friend, film maker Jeff Hogan, has been wanting to film in the Beartooths for years. Well, finally, we were able to find openings in our schedules and spent four days together in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Our main objectives were pikas and mountain goats. But the many storms hitting the high peaks around us also became a main focus.
The weather made filming challenging at times. It either rained, snowed or hailed every day,but between the rain drops we were able to gather some uniquely rare footage.
I took Jeff into one of my favorite pika colonies. One male in particular has always been very tolerant and once again went about his business as we filmed. I admit the attraction wasn't only the cute little pika, but also the beautiful lichen covered rocks he lives in backed by stunning views of the Beartooth Range.
We were usually filming by 7:30 when the morning light swept across the tunbled rocks and boulders that make up pika territories. Soon the little rock rabbit (pika) would start their daily chore of cutting and carrying grasses to be deposited in hidden haystacks. This would continue until late morning when the tiny worker would take a mid-day break.
And we would do the same.
By four in the afternoon they were back at it again,and would continue until dark.
Every morning we would search for goats and would usually find some. However, many times they were too distant for filming. A small nanny and kid band hung around the ski lift, but often the openness allowed the wind to gust so strongly, filming became impossible.
At my favorite pika spot, the little male seemed to not only accept us but would even scurry over and sit beside us now and then. Once he even climbed up on my boot toe and sat for a bit. It had snowed earlier and my toes were cold. I swear I could feel his body heat warming them.
While we filmed pikas, other life went on around us. Flocks of black rosey finches landed around us, their chirpping echoing off the rocks. Pitpits and clarks nutcrackers also foraged nearby and once a prairie falcon zipped close. Chipmonks, golden mantled ground squirrels and yellow-bellied marmonts were constant companions. Even a long-tailed weasel made a brief appearance.
At the end of our four days we were both tired and a little sore.
Even now as I'm writing this, I admit I wish I was right back up there sitting in the rocks with my pika friend.