Nature Notes

Vol. X October, 1932 No. 10

Just Here and There

A big - but exceedingly interesting - project is now within sight of its completion. Reference is made to the large relief map of Mount Rainier National Park begun last February. This map measures approximately eight by nine feet in size and includes the area embraced by the park boundaries. Each mountain, river valley, hill or stream course is built to scale to form a replica of the park and all its topographical features. The small crater at the summit appears as a tiny bowl-shaped depression about an inch in diameter and even Alta Vista, a familiar knoll in the Paradise Valley region, is included. The "negative" cast, which presents the park as a great depression rather than a huge mountain has just been completed and by the time you read these lines the "positive" cast, presenting the park in its true perspective will have been cast and made ready to set upon its base in the museum at Longmire. This will be cast in plaster and during spare time this winter it will be colored and decorated to conform to the appearance of the glaciers, barren rock slopes or cleavers, forested areas, alpine meadows, etc. Roads and trails will be drawn in so next summer park visitors will be able to see the park in miniature and to inspect the mountain together with the minor ranges clustered at its base at liesure. It will give one a clear perspective of this region and illustrate our point very forcibly that there is much interesting country beyond the ends of the highways, reached only by trails, that is worthy of your time and effort. As soon as possible additional positive casts will be made for use in the Paradise Valley Community Building and in the Government Building at Yakima Park.

Visitors to the park this fall will also be delighted to see that the Park Museum at Longmire is now possessed of some new and very excellent mounted specimens of birds and mammals native to Mount Rainier National Park. These fine exhibits are the work of Mr. Ottmar von Fuehrer, of the Carnegie Museum (Pittsburg) staff who has been working for us on the Educational force this past month.

Mr. Natt Dodge, Ranger-Naturalist reports seeing several ducks on the small lake in the Silver Forest known as Frog Heaven. Positive identity of these ducks was not possible under the conditions but it tells us that these birds are now winging their way southward again and have stopped off en route in the park.

Preston Macy, Assistant Chief Ranger, found considerable petrified wood fragments on the slope of Mount Ararat in Indian Henry's Hunting Ground recently. One portion of particular interest was a tree stump. The name of this mountain is the result of Ben Longmire's finding such a stump in that section. Mr. Longmire surmised humerously that "That probably was the tree to which Noah tied the Ark" -- hence the name.

At this late season one would not expect to find any of last winter's snows at the low elevations in the park. However a large patch may be seen on the slope of Eagle Peak just below the junction of the Nisqually and Paradise Rivers at an elevation of about 3200 feet which has been able to weather the summer season as a reminder of the long, hard, snowy winter just past.

A heavy windstorm on the morning of September 17 not only brought rain and falling branches at the lower elevations on the south and west sides of The Mountain but precipitated hundreds of avalanches among the steep crags and snow-walls of the upper slopes. The warm weather of the previous weeks and caused much sliding of the heavy neve on the upper three or four thousand feet of the Mountain, and huge masses of compacted snow were poised at the heads of cirques and above the lesser cliffs. The strong wind loosened these bergshrunds, which toppled over the cliffs below, loosening great blocks of the crumbling lava in their fall. From Paradise and Longmire, the dust rising from these avalanches might be seen throughout the day like a pinkish haze streaming from behind the jagged cleavers, and rising from the depths of cirques like clouds of smoke to hover high above the crown of the peak itself.

A rosy finch at the 10,000 foot elevation, ptarmigan among the rocks bordering the skyline trail below McClure Rock, and several flocks of sociable pine siskins were the only birds seen on a visit made to Camp Muir on September 15. The day was bright, warm, and windless. The siskins, in small flocks of from two to a dozen busied themselves retrieving bodies of insects from the surface of the snow, and were noticed as high as 8000 feet. They kept up a sprightly plaintive chatter among themselves, as they scampered about over the snow or flew across the rocky islands like pale leaves caught up in an autumn breeze.

bird on a limb

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