Pinnacle Peak Trail Pika

Hiking down from Plummer Peak, we were on Pika alert. As we walked past rock fields on the hike up the mountain we kept hearing their high-pitched “eeeek” calls, but the little critters were elusive.

It was my trip to Mount Rainier National Park in August and we had just spent a productive afternoon on Plummer Peak shooting Rainier. The critter is the American Pika, and our guide, Aaron, told us that the little animals were a threatened species. We heard them at every scree we passed but they were hidden from view or too far away to photograph—until the hike down the mountain on Pinnacle Peak trail when one of us spotted a Pika down below us. I assumed that by the time I hiked down to his location he would flee, but Aaron encouraged me to try. I slowly made my way down about 50 yards until I was close enough to get my first shot of him peeking out from under a rock:

An American Pika peeks out from under a rock, Pinnacle Peak Trail, Mount Rainier National Park
An American Pika peeks out from under a rock, Pinnacle Peak Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

As I stood there and waited, he seemed to accept the fact that I wasn’t a threat and started to resume his foraging.

Pika, Pinnacle Peak Trail, Mount Rainier National Park
Pika, Pinnacle Peak Trail, Mount Rainier National Park
An American Pika surveys his surroundings, Pinnacle Peak Trail, Mount Rainier National Park
An American Pika surveys his surroundings, Pinnacle Peak Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

He was amazingly tolerant of my presence, and eventually Aaron and Mick made their way down to join me.

Aaron getting some shots of the Pika (photo by Rodrigo Salazar)
Aaron getting some shots of the Pika (photo by Rodrigo Salazar)

American Pika, a close relative of rabbits and hares, spend much of their time gathering vegetation that they store as haypiles for winter. Because they don’t hibernate, they need a stockpile of hay to last through the cold months.

Pika chewing grass
Pika chewing grass, Pinnacle Peak Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

Before the adorable little guy scurried up the mountain he seemed to pose for me one last time:

Pika, Pinnacle Peak Trail, Mount Rainier National Park
Pika, Pinnacle Peak Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

 

| Categories: Animals.

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