Today dawned snowy and beautiful, like yesterday. My energy was lagging and the footing was slippery so K and i walked more slowly and carefully than usual. I immediately noticed an aspen tree with bear claw marks on it. A series of marks made a trail up the tree, suggesting that an adult bear had shimmied up it.When I looked more closely, I saw that the climbing marks led to a woodpecker-sized hole that the bear doubtless investigated.
This sign made me think of 'my' bears, sleeping peacefully on the other side of the ridge. It will take great patience to stay away from them and my camera - but their lives depend on conserving energy for the winter. So, I have high motivation to keep my distance.
Someone asked why the mother bear slept by the den entrance. I don't know the answer but my best guess was that she was protecting her cub. Moreoever, the cave roof became lower further back in the crevice so the mama bear might have been too big to fit back there.
I'm pretty sure that the mother and yearling are the same pair who I saw last summer foraging for berries on a verdant slope. One time, as the cub ran in the underbrush up the slope, mama bear stood on her hind legs to examine me. I've read that standing upright is a sign of curiosity rather than aggression in bears. Indeed, after peering at me, she followed her cub uphill and away from me.
On today's hike, snow didn't fall hard but the bushes and small trees frequently covered K in snow, making her look like frosty the snow dog!
Early in the hike, she climbed some boulders. Sometimes, it looks like she's surveying the land from a precarious post.
But, she always finds easy ways to climb up and down. This photo shows how she descended the backside of the boulder face that she just posed on.At the end of our walk, we played a game that K loves. It's our "Find it" game, where she searches for something that smells like me. In this case, she searched for an old pair of chemical handwarmers, encased in a zip-lock plastic bag, that I'd clutched in my fingers for hours.
This game was a fun ending to our walk!