This morning, I did indeed ride my mountain bike with an upbeat and energetic K by my side. We climbed straight toward the sky, and as we emerged above the trees, we saw the breath-taking peaks, newly opened deep orange flowers to the left of the trail, and a male western Tanager - all at once. Wow!
The deep orange flowers are Western Wallflowers (Erysimum capitatum), an odd name for such a flamboyantly eye-catching flower. The Navajo pulverized the seed pods from this mustard species and inhaled the dust to clear nasal congestion. I think that I'll stick with looking at its beautiful flowers.When I spotted the Tanager, I dropped my bike to take a photo. It's blurry because I was breathing so hard from climbing the steep and technical hill just before spotting the stunning bird. They're the most colorful birds that breed in our forests.
A little later, K and I rolled along on a soft pine-needle cushioned path, catching rapid glimpses of the mountains.
We passed the edge of a lush meadow with aspen groves surrounding it. The trail was blocked by huge Ponderosa Pine that blew down last fall. She leaped over it to catch up with me. She started from a stand-still yet cleared it easily.
Finally, we reached a rocky prominence where I took K's photo. She looks happy!
I'd been relaxing, immersing myself in riding, K, and nature, until this point. But then (insert Jaws music), I spotted a likely mountain lion scat, primarily composed of fur and bone, that I'm absolutely certain wasn't on the trail yesterday. I spent the rest of my ride keeping K very close, and then, after I dropped her off at home, I nearly veered off the trail a few times as I tried to watch my back. I don't know why a single lion sign unnerved me so much today - I see signs fairly frequently. It must be my unsettled state of mind.
I arrived home in the sunshine, with the air warm enough for sitting on the deck. Yet again, my dogs made me laugh. For some reason, R loves to burrow under my deck chair for snoozing. What would I do without these clowns to keep me smiling?