Bethel Ridge, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest,
Wanting to enjoy the alpine environment but without the crowds of Mount Rainier, we headed up to Bethel Ridge during the late summer. We missed the wildflower display and we didn't see any ptarmigans, but we were in time for impressive flocks of migrating post-breeding birds. These flocks of birds were more often seen on the edges where the spruce and pines met the dry grassy meadows. Western Tanagers, Cassin's Vireos, Warbling Vireos, Nashville, MacGillivary's, Orange-crowned Warblers, Olive-sided, Hammond's, and Dusky Flycatchers were found in large flocks as they headed back to their tropical wintering grounds. Among the resident birds were the large groups of Dark-eyed Juncos and Chipping Sparrows both of which large comprised of young from this year. Loud Clark's Nutcrackers were busy feeding on the ripe pine nuts - extracting them from the sappy cones in large numbers before flying off to cache them for the upcoming winter.
Aside from the alpine bird activity, we enjoyed the views from the ridge and the surrounding forest roads. We hiked in the William O Douglas wilderness area and took in the spruce covered valleys with its interspersed the rocky bald patches. Recent thunderstorms started wildfires in the distance and helicopters could be heard and seen taking water to help contain the fires. The smoke from the fires did contribute to a spectacular sunset over Mount Adams and Mount Rainier. Both were in the distance, but beautifully highlighted and framed in the glow of the setting sun and red clouds.
Located: Northeast of White Pass
William O Douglas Wilderness Area
Cash Prairie trailhead