About three weeks ago, we spent an autumn weekend in Aspen. The dogs and I hiked in the morning sunshine on the first day. As we climbed up to a panoramic point, a photographer, with much fancier equipment than mine, asked if I would pose the dogs for him. He just sent me a pair of special photos of R and K, with a blur of autumn leaves in the background.
He also wrote in his email: "Your dogs are the best behaved of any who I've ever met." That comment made my day. We certainly work hard at training them so that they are good citizens. But, the other half of my brain blurted out: "He must not have met very many dogs"!
Seeing his photos makes me think that I could learn a thing or two from a photography course. His images are so crystal clearly focused on the dogs with the rest of the world in a blur. That's a gorgeous effect.
Today, I felt tired from riding a lot over the past couple of days. Despite the fatigue, the amazing natural world drew me into another fun ride. The sun was warm, the air was still, and sunlight bathed our forest. The only clouds in the sky hovered over the Divide, sitting behind K.
K and I rolled through the forest, to the accompaniment of myriad chirping birds. Chickadees shouted warnings of our arrival. Stellar's Jays squawked their disapproval. Robins flew overhead with their rusty breasts glowing in the sunshine. And, the magpies seemed to know that deer rifle season opens tomorrow, as they rarely visit the depths of our forests but were omnipresent today. They clean up after hunters, working over the 'gut piles' left behind after a hunter field dresses a deer or elk.
The first weekend of deer rifle season always feels like the most dangerous weekend of the year in the forest. I'm glad that we're clad in orange. Even from behind, K's orange catches the eye.
However, K's orange vest needed repair after this sequence during which she crawled under one of the many barbed wire fences left behind in the forest. She started under the fence.
She's almost all the way under.
But, as she emerged, the tongue flick indicated that something had stressed her out. I realized that she'd snagged her vest on the fence and was stuck. I freed her but the vest was ripped.
We rolled further, past the spot where I think that I saw a lion, and perhaps a recently killed buck, the other day. I'm not planning to investigate for a few weeks. A lion might hang around, protecting his kill, for as long as two weeks. So, as we went past that boulder-filled area, I called K into a heel next to my bike.
I called my contact at the D.O.W. to report the horse leg that I found two days ago. As we chatted, he asked me to alert him to any fresh deer or elk kills in our area so that he could capture and radio collar the lion. Hmm. Believe it or not, I'm not certain that I want our lions collared because they lose some of their freedom and mystique if we can turn on a scanner and locate them. If a lion hasn't threatened humans, should he lose his right to roam unseen and unknown to humans? I have my doubts even though I know that radio collars provide incredible scientific information about lion behavior.
However, it's likely a moot point. Whenever my dogs strongly indicate that a carcass sits nearby, I call them off of it and don't go near that spot for weeks to give the lion time to move on. So, I doubt that I'll ever be absolutely certain that a fresh lion kill is stashed in a specific place unless I accidentally stumble on it.
Today, as K and I rolled through the forest, we caught a glimpse of a snowy mountain. Winter has, without a shadow of a doubt, taken full control of the high mountains. Soon, it'll overtake our forests, meadows, and aspen groves as well.
I think that it's time to fully enjoy the remaining mountain biking on dirt trails. Soon, I'll dust off my snow bike to slip and slide my way through real snow. That's fun but I love 'real mountain biking' the most.