Subject: [Tweeters] Chelan Cty Ptarmigan
Date: Jul 28 11:54:25 2009
From: Gary Bletsch - garybletsch at

Dear Tweeters,

Howard Armstrong found two family groups of White-tailed Ptarmigan up on Sahale Arm last week. Yesterday, I went up and managed to find one of them. The birds were within about a hundred meters of the Skagit County line, but, truth be told, they remained in Chelan.

The Cascade River Road out of Marblemount is gated at Mile Marker 20, which meant that I had a day hike of 19 miles yesterday, instead of 12. One might take a mountain bike up, leave the car at the gate, and bicycle the 3.5 miles to the trailhead parking area from Mile Marker 20.

After reaching Cascade Pass (3.7 miles from trailhead), one goes northwards up Sahale Arm, passing the trail that drops down to Doubtful Lake. A female with two little chicks was about a hundred yards past the Doubtful Lake trail sign; the birds were drinking at a little meltwater stream coming off a small snow patch; the streamlet flows between two rocks placed in the trail. I put a tiny cairn near these stones.

Several mountain goats were present along the Sahale Arm trail.

Last week, Howard found another hen WTPT. this one with seven babies, dustbathing directly on the trail, up closer to the end of the heather and beginning of the boulders below Sahale Glacier. I went up there yesterday, but found little besides American Pipits and horseflies. Perhaps the party of climbers that were ahead of me had rousted the ptarmigan, if that is even possible with these confiding birds.

Insects that a back-east hiker would call "black flies" were a big problem the whole day, except for the last few hundred yards, at which point horseflies took over. Howard tells me that the black ones are called deerflies out here; deerflies back east were always yellow, so I was calling them blackflies, and several other epithets. Whatever you call them, it's wise to take along some insect repellent, protective clothing, and a few cuss words, if you take this long hike.

Yours truly,

Gary Bletsch ? Near Lyman, Washington (Skagit County), USA ? garybletsch at ? ?