In Mount Rainier National Park there are some 200 square miles covered by dense forests of fir pine and hemlock. Birds and animals are never numerous in the depth of the woods but on certain dark, threatening days in winter this apparent absence of all life is most noticeable. Yesterday was such a day. Not a sound to break the stillness, not a breath of air to cause the trees to murmer. As I climbed slowly up the steep snowshoe trail, silent and alone I felt that peaceful stillness about me. It is not unpleasant, tho it inspires serious thinking.
Even the Clarkes crows and the ravens, usually so noisy, made no sound. Today was different. The storm was no longer threatening, it was on us. For some mysterious reason it had loosed the voicew of the forest. The ravens croaked hoarsely overhead and the woods were full of chestnut-backed chickadees and brown creepers fairly revalling in the storm.
During the week a cougar track was reported near the base of Eagle Peak but nothing has been heard since of its maker. Cougar have been scarce in the Park this winter. Government hunter Stoner has found none either in this district or on the Carbon River side altho he secures wild-cat and coyote frequently.
Recently I looked from the window one still cold morning and saw a flash of white leap from one stone wall to another. It was the Little weasel. This weasel is only about the size of a mans thumb and only slightly longer. In winter it is entirely white except for a touch of yellow at the tip of its tail. These tiny fellows can follow a mouse or shrew to any retreat and are a great check on small rodents. Weasels and even the Douglas squirrel travel with greater speed thru the soft snow than they can at the surface.
Clarkes crows, ravens, magpies, gray jays, Steller jays, Chickadees, and brown creepers are the most abundant birds at present. Yesterday along the almost frozen Paradise River I heard the wren-like twitter of the water ouzel deep down in an icy gorge where I could not see the bird. Mrs Thorndike has found that the birds have greatly appreciated a bird Christmas tree which she loaded with food for them.
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