Morning in the BeartoothsThe Weasel And I
by Dan Hartman
Aug. 17, 2010
The girls and I headed up into the Beartooth Mountains just after dawn. We hadn’t gone far when a deer with a fawn still wearing spots slipped across the highway. A moose browsed in a stand of willows below the road. Things were pretty quiet until we started up the switchbacks climbing to the 11,000 foot pass. At about 10,000 feet a young long-tailed weasel appeared beside the road. I quickly grabbed my camera and began following him from rock pile to rock pile, each time grabbing a shot or so before he bounded to the next cluster of boulders. Pika called all around us and I was hoping the weasel might catch one. On and on we drifted with me snapping a shot now and then. Finally the little fella entered a vast field of tumbled boulders. Trying to follow would be impossible and since I had spent over half an hour with him, I headed back to our car. It was surprising how far I had gone. Back at the car, Kelly and Cassie were watching a young marmot clean itself. On our way again, we decided to check the white bark pine crop east of the pass. It didn’t look good. Only a couple cones per tree. A red squirrel gnawed on one, searching for pine nuts. A golden mantled ground squirrel watched us from a rock pile. Across the canyon, a billy goat moved across a grassy slope. Back up on the pass, we watched several pika gathering grass for their hay stacks. I can feel a touch of fall in the air this high up.
White Barked Pine Cone
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel