The heatwave has hit the northwest. Today’s temperatures on the Palouse rose into the high 90’s, and tomorrow it may break 100. I wanted to hike so I can get in shape for backpacking next month, so I thought I’d take the dogs up to Freezeout Saddle and hike to Grandmother Mountain. But when I got up there, it was also hot and somewhat muggy, so we didn’t make it very far. I brought the camera, but got no pictures on this trip. The summer wildflowers are starting to bloom: beargrass was in its early stages, and the lupine had buds, but no open flowers yet. Plox was open, creating a colorful ground cover in places. The glacier lilies had already gone to seed. But overall, we should see the full color in the next week or two. Already, there is less snow on the trail than there was when I brought my parents up at the end of July last year. This holds good promise that the high country is now open for business.
The best part about today’s excursion was the wildlife sightings, nearly all of them from the car as we were headed down. The only wildlife I spotted from the trail was a fesh pile of bear scat. But on the way down, I came across a very colorful Western Tanager, an elk on the road, a family of skunks (mom and 3 juveniles, I believe), and what I believe to be a wolf. As I came to the bottom of the incine where the road meets the creek, I saw a large dog standing in the intersection. It looked like a husky, definitely bigger than a coyote, but I was also far away so it’s hard to tell. It ran off, and I kept driving, but then I saw it again in the road, running away. I tried to catch up to it to get a better look, but it darted off to the side and then I lost it. I’m not absolutely positive it was a wolf. Coyotes are much more common and more likely, but this was bigger than any coyote I’ve seen, though smaller than a wolf should be. It was more grey and white, rather than the brownish-grey that the coyotes are. It could be a feral dog. Either way, it surely wasn’t tame as it spooked at the first sight of the car. So, it could be a wolf, but I’m not positive, and I hesitate to call it as such. It’s exciting, nonetheless.