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:
As I stood there and waited, he seemed to accept the fact that I wasn’t a threat and started to resume his foraging.
He was amazingly tolerant of my presence, and eventually Aaron and Mick made their way down to join me.
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.
Before the adorable little guy scurried up the mountain he seemed to pose for me one last time: