Thirtymile Dawn

Thirtymile Meadows is a wet, subalpine meadow high in the Okanogan National Forest. A natural shallow bowl, it collects meltwater from each winter and slowly drains away through innumerable soft tinkling streams. In such a wide open space it can be difficult to know where to point microphones. When I visited in the Summer of 2019 I was never certain where the next morning’s dawn chorus would arrive from. Past migrant season there was no consistent resting place for the wildlife every night.

Filled with chipmunks, Hermit Thrushes, Olive-sided Flycatchers, Lincoln’s Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, Woodpeckers, Ravens, Clark’s Nutcrackers, American Robins, and more, the meadow is a feast for the eyes and ears of the quiet observer.

This meadow and the surrounding scarred forest are still recovering from the massive Thirtymile Wildfire that began from an unattended campfire almost 20 years ago. They stand as a testimony to the resilience of nature against all that we humans throw at it. Fragile ecosystems are stronger than we once believed, but our negligence does them no favors.

This is the same meadow as our friend the coyote. In fact, this recording is from the very same overnight.

Beginning in twilight silence, we progress through the earliest voices of First Light at 32 minutes and Sunrise at 72 minutes. After a brief period of the dawn rush of air, we spend the last hour listening in on the comings-and-goings and daily lives of Thirtymile Meadows. Throughout it all, the soft occasional tinkling of water flows around and beneath.

Unfortunately, one of my microphones failed overnight, and I ended up with a lopsided recording. I’ve accounted for this somewhat in the the master, but it’s an imperfect image that I’m hoping to replace this summer when I return.