Blewett Pass

Monday, July 2, 2007:

I got away from the motel around 6 and took US-97 over Blewett Pass. Well, it's really not Blewett Pass, but everyone calls it that. The old highway was called the Blewett Pass Highway. When US-97 was rerouted, it now longer went over Blewett Pass, but people still called it Blewett Pass Highway. As a result, the pass has been renamed on some maps. I'm not sure of its official status.

I had planned to do an easy trail here as my first hike of the trip. However, all those I had considered involved more driving and the Discovery Trail was just sitting there a mere 1/2 mile from the pass. Birder's Guide to Washington said it had birds, so I decided to take it. Just before I got to the parking lot a Golden-mantled Ground-Squirrel ran across the road. My first mammal of the trip.

The trail is 2 3/4 mile long and was pretty birdy. Highlights included White-headed Woodpecker, Red Crossbill, and a low-level flyover by an Evening Grosbeak (there were a lot of higher flyovers). There was a great view from the top (about 325 feet above the trailhead), including Rainier and some of the north Cascades. The Townsend's Warblers were something of a problem. I kept hearing them, but saw none.

I headed down the road, then turned onto the old highway and drove up to the real Blewett Pass. At a stop on the way down, I finally saw a Townsend's Warbler. I also spotted a couple of Dusky Flycatchers.

Returning to US-97, I headed downhill, then cut over toward Cle Elum on SR-970. But instead of going there, I took Teanaway River Road to do some more birding. The West Fork road proved most productive, especially at the bridge. A nice group of birds kept flitting around and perching on logs and tangles in the stream. These included Yellow Warbler and a Cassin's Finch that got a drink almost directly below the bridge abutment. A Townsend's Chipmunk (life mammal) was an extra treat.

View from Blewett Pass Old Blewett Pass Highway Wildflowers
Blewett Pass View Old Blewett Pass Highway Wildflowers
Indian Paintbrush Scarlet Gilia Dusky Flycatcher
Indian Paintbrush Scarlet Gilia Dusky Flycatcher

After a quick look at Roslyn, I headed on to Snoqualmie Pass. The birding here didn't add anything, and I drove toward Franklin Falls. I had intended to visit it, but there was no space at the close parking area, and I didn't have time to walk there and back from the far parking area (one is a few hundred feet away, the other is a mile). I did stop at one point for a vole that crossed the road (no ID). I added a few heard-only birds before heading for Seattle to pick up Susan.

I was worried that the traffic would delay me too much. Fortunately, I had allowed a margin for complications and I got to the terminal just as Susan's plane was scheduled to arrive. But why didn't it show on the arrivals board? Over at the American baggage claim, I found the answer. It was delayed! She is not going to be a happy camper. I sit here in the airport typing this and wondering whether she will get here in time to check out the parrots tonight.

Susan's flight arrived 2 1/2 hours late due to storms in Texas. We headed over to Seward Park as soon as we could. Pretty soon, Susan had spotted two Aratinga wagleri, observed what they were eating, and was even able to find their nest hole. We also saw some black rabbits and a Western Gray Squirrel.

Today's bird totals: Day, 40. Trip, 100. Lifers, 1

Mammals: Day, 3. Trip, 3. Lifers, 2.

Best Western Tulalip, Marysville, WA