Sheep Lake, Sourdough Gap Trail, Mount Rainier
We’ve had a gorgeous early summer, not a cloud in the sky for a month and a half. But the weather has turned foul lately; massive gray clouds blew in before the Perseid meteor shower, and covered most of the state. I found a sunny island in the sky at Chinook Pass, to watch the show from.
I hiked a short and easy two miles in to Sheep Lake and set up camp.
It’s a gorgeous hike in August. There are so many wild flowers the meadows turn blue from the lupines, and red from paintbrush. Stands of trees dot the meadows, and small Sheep Lake warms up enough to swim in.
Sitting in the meadow and taking in the view was pure contentment. The evening wore on as I explored, and, finally, darkness fell. A flaming boulder flew sideways across the sky. And then another. And another. I tried to photograph the show, but it was cold and the lake let off a fog that condensed on my lens. Nature intended for this to be a life show only, no recordings.
At one point I “swept” my camp area with a flashlight, and saw a pair of eyes reflecting in the dark. A second light showed a deer, who got scared and ran. But there was another pair of eyes. The animal these belonged to was not so skittish. As I shined both lights at it, the eyes got low to the ground, and it slinked away. A few minutes later, I saw the eyes again, peering out at me while their owner hid behind a tree. For an hour or more, this continued, the eyes showing up at a different point on the periphery of my camp. I’d yell, throw stones, point the light, etc, but the creature would not be deterred. Eventually it left and was not seen again. Since all I could see of it were the reflections of its eyes, it’s very hard to say what this was, but the cat like behavior, and the wildlife on Rainier make me think I was “stalked” by a mountain lion.
My wildlife encounter was a bit of a distraction from the meteor shower. It was still a great show.
The next morning, I packed up and hiked out, then did a little more hiking in the area before heading home.