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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Earning a mountain view

Whoa! I said that many times on this crackling clear Colorado day when I glimpsed the snowy Divide through the bud-laden Aspen trees.After procrastinating due to the 10 degree temperature and tired legs, I finally headed out onto the trails with K. The snow-covered icy trails were even slicker than yesterday so I rode my Stumpjumper with studded tires rather than my new Fatback. As we looped through the woods, animal tracks criss-crossed the trails. A fox had followed my old tire tracks and a bobcat had strutted through the meadow. I always say that bobcats 'strut' because they regularly walk past our house in full daylight with complete confidence. One of the first bobcats that we saw was carrying a huge Abert's Squirrel that he'd just killed, and he sauntered proudly past our window despite the frenzied barking of our dogs.

As K and I climbed up to Hug Hill, we scared up a solitary Blue Grouse who flew up to a perch in Lodgepole Pine tree. We see grouse in this forest all year long, although they're uncommon in the winter. Throughout the spring and summer, a mother grouse roams this area with her brood - and it was a large brood of about eight fledglings last year. The mother grouse courageously protected her brood, drawing K's and my attention to herself so that the babies had time to clumsily fly into the trees. Early in the summer, a fledgling sometimes needed more than one attempt to land on a branch. I was glad that I could call K away from the fledglings while they escaped. The young stayed with their mother for a long time, through most of the fall.

Today, after pedaling up the snow-covered icy trail, I gazed in disbelief at the view of the powder-covered mountains against the deep blue sky. I know that I belong in these mountains because their beauty still stops me in my tracks. K's fur glowed in the sun.

I enjoy mountain views the most when I've earned them. Pedaling or hiking to a peak makes me truly savor the view. Driving or sitting on a chairlift somehow blunts the beauty.

I wound down the daylight hours with a sunset hike with my dogs. K and R intensely pursued each other in a game of keep-away the stick. They live for the moment, and I love them for it.

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