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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Disappearing snow

R exudes high amperage energy. Not satisfied with the small sticks that most dogs carry, he ambitiously dragged around a very long branch yesterday evening. As we explored the trails, he dragged it through deep boggy snow, over downed trees, and up steep hills. He banged it against the back of my knees. Then, after such devotion to the branch, he left it behind without a second thought.K acted like the mature older sister, investigating coyote tracks in the meadow, rather than playing with sticks.After our recent recall extravaganza, both dogs responded to "come" like frenzied locomotives threatening to run me over last evening. I find that practicing recalls is one of the most fun training games for both the canines and me. And, the good effect on the dogs' behavior is undeniable.

Snow still made the trails impassable for even a Fatback snow bike this morning so I rode on the dirt roads. No weirdos followed me - making it a mentally mellower ride than yesterday. I pushed the pace on some climbs, and it felt good to rev up the engine. I'm in that odd early-season condition where I'm not sure what aspect of my fitness is limiting me. This is a yearly phase so I'll just keep pedaling, sometimes testing the limits, and eventually I'll break through the unknown but clear-cut barrier.

Yesterday, I spotted my first tree swallow of the year during my mountain bike ride. In the past 24 hours, hordes have arrived to forage next to the meadows. They can survive at our elevation earlier in the spring than other swallow species because tree swallows can rely on vegetation for food when a cold snap or snow limits insect availability. Other swallow species eat only insects.These swallows flew as far as thousands of miles to get to this meadow. And, they may not be staying in this beautiful spot for the summer. This species breeds as far north as Alaska so our high elevation meadow may serve as only a rest stop for them.

As I rode, the summer thunder clouds built up, like they did yesterday. Below, I first passed by a view of a 14er (a peak over 14,000 ft) as the puffy cumulus clouds engulfed only its southern side.
Only 45 minutes later, the puffy clouds had multiplied to enshroud the entire mountain.
In the summer, my rides all too frequently become races against the thunder storms. The clouds are born on the Divide, grow taller and darker, and then start marching toward lower elevations. As I listen to the rumbling out of the west, I ride faster and faster. Today, I didn't race any storms because the summer 'monsoon' season of daily thunder storms definitely hasn't arrived yet.

As I rode along, I realized that I frequently gaze through conifer forests trying to sneak a peek at the snowy mountains. In the photo, a fairly dense stand of lodgepole pines, ponderosa pines, and douglas firs provides small gaps for views of slices of the Divide far off in the distance.
After arriving home, the dogs and I enjoyed 60 degree temperatures to sit on the deck in the few snow-free spots. Just 4 days ago, the deck had snow up to the top of the railings so it's astonishing that we're sitting on the deck today. Here's a photo from 4/19 with the deck table overturned so that the snow wouldn't break it and the railing barely visible above the snow.The dogs hogged the sunny spots on the deck, and K soaked up the warm sun. When I ran my hands through her fur, it glowed with warmth. She's a lucky dog!


  1. Java will pick up huge branches like R did and drag them around too, until it gets hung up on something. She seems happiest when she's carrying something with her.

  2. The photo looking through the pine trees reminds me of my favorite Rene Magritte painting "Carte Blanche". I'm glad there were no crazies out on your ride today!

  3. Hard to believe you are sitting on that deck already! I love the photo of K just soaking it up.

    Glad the guy in the truck has disappeared. That's a bit scary.

  4. Dog_Geek: The "Carte Blanche" painting is very cool. I just found it on the web. Taking that photo seemed kind of silly but I thought that it was interesting to capture the view that I often have.

    Mary: I wonder if Java has some retriever in her. I thought that it was the retrieving gene, that's oh-so-strong, in R that led to his obsessiveness over sticks.

    NCMountainWoman: Thanks for your sentiments about the truck weirdo. I haven't seen him again since. Maybe he decided that I wasn't an easy mark. Or, maybe he was honestly baffled by the fact that I wanted to ride my bike. Who knows?


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