I love summertime mountain biking - and that's what my ride felt like today. As I headed out, a Mountain Chickadee watched me from the entrance to a nest box. They, and every other species that I know of, have just one brood per year at our elevation, and chicks take their maiden flights in late June. Now must be nest-building time!K and I rolled out to a greener world than yesterday. Under a almost leafy aspen grove, I spotted the first buttercup of the year so K endured a down-stay while I took photos.
We rolled along our favorite trail, navigating a dry but rocky trail. We sneaked peeks of great views of the mountains. In the photo below, you can see the rocky trail, the opening leaves on the aspens, and a glimpse of a white mountain in the far right.
I had been planning to take K on her first longish ride of year but the sun heated us both too fast. It's time to shift our morning ride earlier so that the heat doesn't slow us down. Today, I headed home with K, saving our long ride for later this week when we get an earlier start.
When I headed out on my own, I met a super nice local blogging friend, stopping in the sun to chat about all sorts of things. We locals appreciated being able to stop and talk without getting cold - for perhaps the first time this season!
I headed for a top-secret pine-dominated ride. The narrow and sinuous trail sometimes disappeared into the pine duff, and I'd wander around to re-find my route. The scent of sun-warmed pine needles sweetened the air. Deep in this forest, I spotted two bow hunters who didn't see me. I don't think that any hunting season is underway but my policy is not to confront armed people deep in forests. I zipped up a hill and out of sight.
A bit later, a fair distance from the bow hunters, I spotted three elk who crashed through the forest away from me. I barely caught a photo of one 'hiding' among the trees.
Periodically, the trail emerged from the forest into still-dormant meadows and barely awakening aspen groves.
Female catkins hung from the branches of this expanse of densely packed aspen trees. Because all the trees in a grove are usually part of one organism, sharing an extensive root system, all are the same sex. In this case, the grove was a 'she'.
On my way home, I passed aspens with leaves and snowy mountains. What a day to live in the mountains!
I thought about S a lot as I pedaled through the montane beauty, about the way that a disease like cancer steals life in small steps, rather than taking everything in one fell swoop. As S's activities have become more limited, I've wished that I could know when we were doing something together for the last time. For example, I didn't know that our sunset viewing point would be out of reach for him so soon. I wish that I'd known and had given him an extra hug when we visited that favorite spot together for what was likely the last time. But, wishes aside, all that we can do is keep pampering and loving him for as long as he's with us. What a gift he is.