Trip Reporter Spots Wolverine at Spider Gap!
When hiker and WTA trip reporter Jake Gentry backpacked Spider Gap-Buck Creek Pass Loop last month, they expected to see some spectacular scenery. What they didn't expect was to have a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounter with the rare and elusive wolverine (the amazing animal, not Hugh Jackman).
When hiker and WTA trip reporter Jake Gentry and his father-in-law David Fossum went backpacking on the classic 44-mile Spider Gap-Buck Creek Pass Loop last month, they expected to see some spectacular scenery and maybe even spot some wildlife. What they didn't expect was to have a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounter with the rare and elusive wolverine (the amazing animal, not Hugh Jackman).
Read Jake's first-hand account the day he calls "the best hiking day I've ever had in the PNW" below:
"She posed for us one the ridgeline for a split second ..."
My father-in-law (Dave) and I were taking a break and grabbing a snack at the top of Spider Gap at the top of the Phelps basin hiking area, after climbing up the Spider Glacier. It was a gorgeous day with not a cloud in the sky. The pass was unusually quiet with a complete absence of marmot whistles—just a lone chipmunk darting across the rocks.
I grabbed my camera and started snapping photos as fast as my camera would let me.We were sitting at the gap facing the Lyman lakes enjoying the world-class mountain views when out of the corner of my eye I saw what first appeared to be a large dark marmot scurrying across the high alpine boulder field 40 feet from us. As soon as my eyes had time to adjust and focus on what I was looking at, I yelled to Dave, "there's a wolverine!"
We watched her cross the boulder field in what seemed like 20-30 seconds, because she was moving at such a quick clip. She posed for us on the ridge line for a split second, just long enough to provide a great silhouette with the blue bird sky in the background.
It could end up being just some overfed ground squirrel ...
Afterwards, we couldn't believe how lucky we were to be in the right place at the right time. My father-in-law told me not to get too excited, because until we could verify it was a wolverine, it could end up being just some strange overfed ground squirrel.
As we descended into the Lyman lakes basin from Spider Gap we relished the experience while soaking up the incredible scenery of the Lyman lakes and Lyman Glacier glistening in the unobstructed sunlight.
The day had been off to an amazing start before seeing the wolverine, but the sighting some how made it even better. As we passed fellow hikers, we shared the exciting news, and consistently received the same response, "No way, you're so lucky, they are so rare!"
Sharing the sighting with rangers, conservation groups and biologists
We ran into Tom Winter (a ranger) at Buck Creek pass and showed him the photos. He was able to verify it was a wolverine and we have been on cloud nine ever since.
We've shared the photos with multiple ranger stations, conservation groups and biologists from across the state, in hopes of helping advance the conservation efforts around wolverines in the Pacific Northwest.