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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spring surges

Dogs know how to relax. R slept in the sun before running this morning.
After pedaling into the forest on my mountain bike, K and I headed directly up high, to Hug Hill. Bright purple seed and pollen cones adorned a small Douglas Fir tree on the summit.
Although Douglas Firs are not 'flowering' plants, the nascent cones reminded me of flowers.
As I noticed the details of the cones, a wild animal clattered down the scree slope just below us and on the forest edge. I caught a glimpse of a tan hulking animal. Most likely, we caught a snoozing elk who decided to make a sprint away from us. The elk have spent recent days clustered in the shade of trees in a nearby meadow. When the animal fled, K charged a short distance, snarling and barking. She slid to a halt when I told her to 'Leave it' but stood guarding the summit.
I wonder how long the animal had watched us before making a run for it. Freezing is the best way to hide in plain sight. Try it some time - if you're just off the trail or a road, stand perfectly still as someone goes by. They'll rarely notice you. I know - I use this strategy when I'm riding trails that cross private property. As a 'local', I have permission from many landowners to ride trails that traverse their forested properties. But, I don't want anyone to see me and then possibly explore the trail. If an owner finds a torrent of people using their trail, it's likely to be shut down, even to 'locals'. So, I freeze and people unknowingly pass close by me. I feel like a cat on the prowl as I stand in the shadows.

After Hug Hill, we headed in same general direction as the fleeing animal, so K remained on high alert. She'd suddenly charge into the woods, barking menacingly, and return to my side when I called her off.

Her protective behavior might have been related to signs of bear activity. I noticed fresh bear fur on the 'bear back-scratching tree'. Since last year, either a new bear has adopted the tree or his fur has bleached out because the fur today was blondish-cinnamon, whereas last year, the new fur tufts were jet black. In the photo below, the ~3" long fur strands blew in a stiff wind so that they stuck out almost horizontally and a shaft of sunlight illuminated them. Several tufts like this one adorned the bark.
We climbed a rocky outcropping to see the mountains at the end of this trail.
K climbed the rocks to sample the scents flying in the wind.
High on a ridge, I spotted a new blooming flower that I think is Lambstongue Groundsel (Senecio integerrimus).
Next to the blooming plant, a cluster of nearly opened buds encircled by woolly leaves sat ready to bloom. Spring is surging forward.
Wild animals, new blooming wildflowers, mountain views, and a chocolate lab companion - another glorious ride in the forest.


  1. Those trails must be such fun for the dogs...all those marvelous sights and smells! Glad everyone's health seems to be improving somewhat. Sure would be nice to know what triggered that allergic reaction, though.

  2. LOL at the freezing... my dogs generally tell me if there's a person nearby, and they typically find people who have "frozen" to be particularly suspicious and worrisome. I have found several hunters that way, who probably thought they could hide and stay frozen off the trail until I passed - until the dogs gave them away. I can say that I have been totally freaked out more than once after spotting some strange gun-toting man dressed in camo crouched behind a tree out in a remote area of the woods. I usually just get out of there as fast as I can!


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