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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Winter reigns and wild turkeys on the loose

Winter reigns here at 8200' but today I felt ready for it. K and I rolled out the door with me outfitted for a below-freezing ride with sporadic aerial bombardments by snowflakes. We toured our local trails, watching for wildlife activity because my husband and R have found two separate fresh deer legs in the past two days. Despite perfect tracking snow, we saw no lion tracks - only bobcat and coyote.

Despite the snow, we climbed up to our local peak for a mountain view. The storm transformed the Divide although I could see only two mountains through the curtain of clouds.
K sat next to me while I surveyed the beauty. But, she stuck out her tongue when I photographed her! Perhaps it's one of those nervous tongue flicks that dog behaviorists mention frequently.
I'm still limiting K's exercise so I dropped her at home in what felt like a very short time. I rolled out on my own planning to do a favorite summer loop. I rolled through a meadow and the autumnal hue reminded me that summer has passed. Moreover, the snow on the forested hills behind the meadow reminded me that winter has visited early. Believe it or not, another 6-12" of snow is forecasted for the next 24 hours.
I climbed up to a ridge, pouring every ounce of energy into my pedals but barely maintaining forward motion. I stalled out on rocky uphills that I usually dance over as if they're not there. When I topped out, feeling like I'd just climbed Everest, I realized that something wasn't right. Either my body has gone past its fitness peak and has plummeted into the dark abyss of fatigue or the extra work of grinding through snow and sticky sand put me over my limit. Regardless of which it was, I was feeling completely depleted of energy on what's usually an easy ride.

At least the wintery views rewarded my laborious climbing.
When the pitch veered upward yet again, I spotted about six craning necks, peering up over the willowy grass. The long skinny necks belonged to wild turkeys. With each step, their heads glided forward and then retracted backward in that odd bird mannerism. By the time I had my camera out, just one silhouette remained.
I hopped back on my bike, and tried to ride nimbly and fast up this little hill, but actually moved at a snail's pace. Despite my slow progress, I was rewarded with a view of at least a half dozen wild turkeys walking nonchalantly down the ridge-side and into some shrubs. Only the strutting male remained within view by the time this snow-moving biker had her camera out.
But, he soon turned tail and walked into the shrubs with the rest of the flock.
These birds have a prehistoric appearance, like something from early in evolution. They live in flocks of up to 40 birds, both male and female. They spend most of the day foraging on the ground but then fly into pine trees to roost overnight. Apparently, mountain lions find them to be a tasty treat. I wonder if a nocturnal lion will climb a tree to attack a sleeping turkey.

The fun encounter with the turkeys buoyed my energy and spirits but soon I settled back into the laborious grind. As I started to worry that I wouldn't make it home in time to take K to her vet appointment, my chain started jumping from gear to gear. I stopped, tried to fix it, put away my tools (big mistake), tried to ride a little, took out my tools again, and then finally did fix it. At least it happened in a beautiful place!
I thought, OK, now I need to hammer home to make it in time for K's vet appointment. At that moment, a snapping and then scraping sound came from my front wheel. Ruh, roh - I stopped, again. A broken spoke. How does a tiny woman break a spoke when riding along on fairly easy terrain? OK, I did hop some rocks but nothing extreme! It seemed to take forever to disentangle the spoke from my brakes and hub. Eventually, I succeeded and rode my wobbly wheel homeward feeling a tinge of fear about what would break next.

I made it just in time to rush to the vet, sans shower (sorry Dr. Vet), to get more tests done on sweet K. She's worth it.


  1. I've got that HAPPY Sibe smile on my face now!


    Tank woo fur sharing the shots!

    AND especially the Sweet K ones!

    PeeEssWoo: I also have that smile thinking about the deer leg too!

  2. Great photos of K. We heard about the snow and find it so hard to believe it's snowing there.

    No matter how often I see wild turkeys, I am always surprised and amazed. I just love them.

    Hope the bloodwork helps explain K's problems and they are easily fixable.

  3. the last shot of K is so endearing! it amazes me how overnight the scenery has changed...was listening on NPR tonight a interview with Horowitz, forgot her first name, and her new book..inside a dog....Patrica McConnell mentioned it on her blog, sounds very interesting...thought of you....hope all of K's blood work is normal....she looks really good...

  4. Hi KB this time of transition is particularly picturesque from where I am sitting...

    I love the combination of colours in the K and Tongue shot...

    Our brush turkeys are similar, equally as gawky looking and such a silly gait...they only take to the air if really threatened...

    Lucky you are a wiz with the tools...

    Happy days

  5. Wow. I don't think I ever even heard of a front spoke breaking. Sounds like your bike is haunted!

  6. Why of course K is worth it. Amazing what we will do for out canine companions.

    Do totally love the snow and can't wait for ours.

  7. Oh, your photos are gorgeous but I really am not hoping I see snow in my yard anytime soon. I'll give it a couple of months, if you don't mind. Please be sure to keep us informed about K and how she's doing.

  8. kia ora KB,
    Beautiful mixture of of colours with the snow. What a fun ride!

  9. I'm glad you made it home w/o any more mechanical mishaps. Hoping for good news from K's most recent tests.

  10. Looks like the views made up for the bumpy ride home and subsequent rush to the vet. Hope her tests come back good.


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