Pika Hunt :  South Gate Trail


The trail into South Gate (aka Squaw Creek) Meadows passes near several pika localities. On the map to the left, the blue line is the trail leading away from the parking lot at the Old Ski Bowl at the South Gate Trail head. As one climbs up the hill, the talus slope seen to right (south) has pikas. As one crosses the little divide, the south side of the same rocks have more pika. Continuing down the trail going around Humingbird Spring, the talus slopes on the right (south) have pika. Continuing on the trail, as one comes around the shoulder and gets a spectacular view of Red Butte, there are pika in the slide at the base of the butte. Notice on the map, Red Butte has pika on all sides, but not continuously distributed. The indicated locations are the only places I've found pika on Red Butte, but other localities here would not be a big surprise.

As one continues through South Gate, there are pika in the rocks to the north (left). Then, after one is through the gate, after descending a short ways down the east drainage around Red Butte, the trail starts ascending through the trees. Just a few hundred yards from here there is a talus slope visible on the left (north). It has quite a lot of vegetation. I have seen pika in these rocks also. 

Thus, the walk into South Gate Meadows goes right by, or in sight of,  no less than 5 pika localities.

I really have no idea how many times I've walked this beautiful trail without any awareness at all of the pika in these rocks. In fact, my first "discovery" of pikas on the mountain occured on the way back from South Gate Meadows--  while walking toward Red Butte, I heard the tell-tale "eh eh" of a pika, and then another answered. This was a population at 8,000' on the east side of Red Butte. In the last few years (2008-present) I have not been able to verify that this group is still there. The other Red Butte populations have been verified in 2011.

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