This is the beautiful view from Rainbow Curve, where I spotted the Clark's Nutcracker of my previous post. In fact, at the top of the largest clump of scrubby-looking trees in the lower center of the picture is where the nutcracker was perched. (If you look at this much larger version of the image, you can barely see the little blog of light gray and black that is the nutcracker.) Not quite at "eye-level" as I had remembered, but still an excellent vantage point from which to bird.
Running crazily in and out of the rocks and boulders in the foreground were several small chipmunk-looking critters, which according to this authoritative site were actually Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels.
These spastic little creatures were constantly on the go and not at all afraid of people, to the delight and enjoyment of a number of kids and other sightseers who seemed more interested in their antics than in the beautiful panorama spread out before us.
Moving farther up the slopes, we quickly move beyond the tree line and into more and more patches of still-lingering snow. And enjoying the thin air and cool summer temperatures were a small family of the most magnificent animals we had yet encountered in the park: North American Elk.
Unfortunately, it was just about the time we spotted the elk that the altitude sickness hit me square in the head (with a corresponding kick to the stomach). We stopped off at the Alpine Visitors Center for the kids to realize their lifelong dreams of touching real snow, and for me to get a little fresh air to clear the cobwebs. But as the headache and nausea increased and a wave of dizziness started to take hold, a resident park ranger / E.M.P. sent us scurrying back off the mountaintop with scare tactics worthy of a middle school principal. The rest of the trip was, quite literally, downhill from there.