Yesterday, R's birthday present, a purple octopus, arrived in the mail. He and K played with it for more than hour, tugging, dancing, and celebrating.
I tore them away for our 'sunset' hike (ha! we never saw the sun yesterday), and it felt like we swam through the murky fog.
But, overnight, the fog evaporated and left a crystal clear day. Freezing but gorgeous!
K and I rolled out the door into 20F (-7C) air, and I negotiated the slippery trails on my mountain bike. K tore ahead of me, leading the way at a full gallop. You can see her disappearing into the distance in the photo below. Fortunately, when she's amped with high voltage energy like today, she somehow remembers to wait for me before disappearing over the horizon. But, if she could, she'd tap her paw with impatience while waiting!After I'd refound my snow mountain bike riding confidence, K and I climbed up a steep rocky hill through groves of small aspen trees. The narrow ribbon of a trail had coating of snow untouched by anyone but wild animals.
We arrived at a lookout point and stopped to absorb the beauty. I feel so lucky to have places like this out my back door!On our way down the hill, we ran into the pack of 7 off-leash dogs and 1 human out for their morning run. One of the dogs, a GSD, tends to be aggressive. However, over the years, K has learned to obsequiously avoid interactions with the GSD. Alas, today, the neighborhood bully focused on K like a laser beam, walking stiffly and standing directly in front of K. The GSD stood with her head and tail stiff and tall, and peered down at K. I thought that an attack was imminent so I hopped off my bike to be ready to intervene. However, K handled it beautifully. She turned her head away from the GSD and curled her body into a big 'C' to further orient herself away from the GSD. She lowered her head, squinted her eyes, and held her tail low. After a pause that seemed eternal but was probably 2 seconds, the GSD started licking K's nose - not K's chin but the top of her nose! I didn't know what to make of that behavior (taste-testing?) but the tension had vanished. Whew - I could breath again. I don't have any photos - I was focused on saving K if needed!
Shortly later, I noticed K gazing at me. A very interesting post at The Other End of the Leash tells about a study that showed a correlation between your dog gazing into your eyes and your hormone levels. The bonding hormone, oxytocin, seems to rise after a period of eye contact. At least now I understand why I love the photos of K gazing into my eyes!
K and I happily rolled home so that I could head out for some solo riding. I headed toward a trail where I found bobcat tracks frequently last winter. Hooray - I saw his tracks, showing me that the bobcat made it through the summer and still patrolled the same trail.
Then, shortly later, a quartet of mule deer stood stock still in a clump next to the trail, and I managed to snap a photo before they fled. It's currently deer rifle hunting season so I'm surprised that they lingered even that long.
I headed for a nearby ridge because the snow usually melts off the ridges first. I struggled mightily to drag my seemingly massive body and bike up to the spine. I felt like crazy glue covered the trail and prevented my wheels from rolling. I stopped for a snack and a view.
As I relaxed and took stock of how depleted I felt, I decided to cut my ride short and take the road toward home at the next intersection rather than the longer trail route. But, upon arriving at the dirt road, I was dismayed to find at least 2" of deep thick mud. Riding in that would have been sheer torture, covering me head to toe in thick gritty mud, so I headed back into the forest - taking the long way home.
In the end, I was happy that I eschewed the road. I made the first human tracks on numerous snowy trails. I delighted in seeing that the remote trails had already seen heavy animal traffic including a huge elk, a gaggle of deer, a pack of coyotes, a solo bobcat, a solitary weasel, rabbits, squirrels and other small rodents. Seeing the maze of tracks emphasized to me that the forest sustains a tree of life that we rarely see. Furry animals eke out an existence even in harsh winter conditions. I'm the exception, out on the trails purely for pleasure, rather than to find food. Views like this one surely are a pleasure!
I arrived home and let our 2 year old puppy, R, out of his crate. As I answered the phone, he made mischief. I sure hope that those papers weren't important! Unfortunately, I think that they were...
Please, please, R - could you stop this sudden reversion to puppy mischief? Otherwise, I need to go into full-blown puppy supervision mode to stop the bad streak before it becomes a habit. Destroying a phone the other day, business documents today - what's next?