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Tiffany Mountains, Okanogan National Forest, WA
August 2019


Synopsis
Over 15 years ago we first camped and hiked at Tiffany Mountain. I knew I wanted to return when I stayed there in 2004 and every year there was some excuse not to go back. We finally made the time to go back to Tiffany Mountain and I was sure glad to return. The 2006 Tripod fire had ripped through the area shortly after our first visit. We vaguely remembered a recent burn in the area, but now the burn was much more extensive. Tall "gray ghosts" stood out along the mountains sides and lined the open wildflower and manzanita meadows. Dense groves of young lodgepole pines grew beneath these tall bare snags.

As with our stay years ago, we camped in Tiffany Meadow along the forest road and hiked the 12-mile loop on the road up to Tiffany Spring over to Tiffany Lake up Honeymoon Pass over to Whistler Pass along Freezeout Ridge and back down to the forest road to complete the loop. In the late summer, wildflowers were blooming though the peak of the season had passed a couple of weeks ago. Still there were fields of lupine, yarrow, ragwort, fireweed, asters, and paintbrush to enjoy along the roads and trails. Pikas were very active in Honeymoon Basin - collecting vegetation to store up for the coming winter. We loved hearing them call from the rock falls and watching them scamper along the rocks. Birdlife was somewhat sparse in the alpine setting, but large mixed flocks of predominately Yellow-rumped Warblers, with Mountain Chickadees, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, Wilson's, Townsend's and Orange-crowned Warblers would occasionally liven up with young groves of spruce and lodgepole pines. We spotted a female Dusky or Sooty Grouse along the side of the trail and flush a couple of more near the top of Whistler Pass. Olive-sided Flycatchers and Western Wood-pewees called from the snags. During our loop hike, we decided to hike to the top of Tiffany Mountain - following the deep cut of the trail through open grassy meadow strewn with large rocks. At the summit, we took in the views of the surrounding mountains and of Lesser Tiffany and Tiffany Lakes. Black Swifts buzzed around us, close enough to hear the rush of wind through their feathers. An American Pipit and a Horned Lark hopped around the lichen covered rocks. Along Freezeout Ridge, a family of American Kestrels circled the meadows, while a group of Clark's Nutcrackers gave chase to a passing Cooper's Hawk.

While walking the closed logging road from Tiffany Meadow, we encountered a family of Spruce Grouse and watched them calmly pick at the ground vegetation and seeds before disappearing in the brush. Families of Mountain Bluebirds, Western Wood-pewees, and Dusky Flycatchers flitted about the open meadows. And in the evening Common Nighthawks glided over the treetops in silence. We were lucky to encounter a black bear while hiking along the forest road. It quickly took off into the short trees for cover. It peered at us from the cover of the young pine stand, before taking off into the forest. We were also extremely luck to have a moose visit us in the meadow across from our campsite. Once it realized we were there, she took off in a hurry. That was our first moose sighting in Washington!

All in all returning to Tiffany Mountain was a great treat to our summer. The views were fantastic, wildlife amazing, wildflowers delightful and birding was pretty fabulous (though I would have liked to see a Boreal Chickadee). I hope to be return and maybe not wait so long before we visit again!

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Pictures (click on the pictures to enlarge)

























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Bird List
Green-winged Teal 4 juveniles on Tiffany Lake
Hooded Merganser 3 juveniles on Tiffany Lake
Ruffed Grouse 1 on closed forest road
Spruce Grouse 1 mom and 2 juveniles
Dusky/Sooty Grouse 1 female and 2 flushed near Whistler Pass
Common Nighthawk 3 during evenings
Black Swift 7 top of Tiffany Mt
Calliope Hummingbird 3 females
Golden Eagle
Northern Harrier 1 male
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Cooper's Hawk 3 juveniles
Red-tailed Hawk
American Three-toed Woodpecker 1 female
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel family of four above Freezeout Ridge
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Western Wood-Pewee family
Dusky Flycatcher family
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Warbling Vireo 1 adult with juvenile
Clark's Nutcracker
Common Raven
Mountain Chickadee
Horned Lark 1 on Tiffany Mt
Violet-green Swallow
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Mountain Bluebird
Townsend's Solitaire 2
Varied Thrush 1 heard
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing 1
American Pipit 1 on Tiffany Mt
Cassin's Finch
Red Crossbill
Pine Siskin
Chipping Sparrow
Brewer's Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco
White-crowned Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow 2
Lincoln's Sparrow
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler many
Townsend's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Western Tanager 1 female
Critters
Black bear 1 on the road
Moose 1 in Tiffany Meadow
Deer
Pika many around the basins
Columbia ground squirrel
Red squirrel
Yellow-pine chipmunk
Brook trout
Butterflies
Field crescent
Lorquin's admiral
Mariposa copper
Pink-edged sulphur
Fritillary sp.
Western white
Painted lady
Melissa's blue
Common wood nymph
Flowers
alpine groundsel Packera pauciflora
alpine milkvetch Astragalus alpinus
alpine willowherb Epilobium anagallidifolium
American speedwell Veronica americana
bitter fleabane Erigeron acris
brook saxifrage Micranthes odontoloma
Columbian monkshood Aconitum columbianum
creamy ladies' tresses Spiranthes porrifolia
Davidson's penstemon Penstemon davidsonii
fan-leaf cinquefoil Potentilla flabellifolia
fireweed Chamerion angustifolium
fringed grass of Parnassus Parnassia fimbriata
gray sagewort Artemisia ludoviciana
hairy arnica Arnica mollis
Howell's pussytoes Antennaria howellii
littleflower penstemon Penstemon procerus
longleaf aster Symphyotrichum ascendens
longleaf starwort Stellaria longifolia
narrowsepal phacelia Phacelia leptosepala
orange agoseris Agoseris aurantiaca
pale agoseris Agoseris glauca
Parry's arnica Arnica parryi
Parry's catchfly Silene parryi
parsnip-flower wild buckwheat Eriogonum heracleoides
pearly pussytoes Antennaria anaphaloides
Rocky Mountain goldenrod Solidago multiradiata
rosy pussytoes Antennaria rosea
roundleaf alumroot Heuchera cylindrica
scarlet Indian paintbrush Castilleja miniata
shrubby cinquefoil Dasiphora fruticosa
Sitka valerian Valeriana sitchensis
small blacktip ragwort Senecio lugens
snow buttercup Ranunculus eschscholtzii
spearleaf stonecrop Sedum lanceolatum
thyme-leaved speedwell Veronica serpyllifolia
water parsnip Sium suave
white bog orchid Platanthera dilatata
yarrow Achillea millefolium
yellow columbine Aquilegia flavescens

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page updated: 9/8/19