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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where the wild animals roam

Yesterday evening, the dogs romped in our meadow, glowing orange in their hunting-season vests. In the photo below, the dogs ran underneath a tree that has a deer leg decorating it. That leg has hung in the same spot for years, to keep it out of the dogs' reach. If you click on the photo, you can see greater detail.R emerged from the tree's umbrella bearing a small stick. Nobody can accuse the boy of lacking ambition!
Today, just K and I rolled out the door, heading into a damp and misty forest. We pedaled through a pine forest, across soft pine-needled trails with K forging the way. The arrival of a small band of elk, one with a massive rack, amped her energy to new heights.
When we arrived at a vista, we found that, yet again, clouds hid the flatlands with their fingers reaching up the valleys and gulches toward our mountains.K seemed profoundly uncomfortable on our favorite hill today with her ears pinned back and eyes darting from one side to another. It might've been the wind or an unseen scary animal. Her unhappy ears broadcast her discomfort in the photo above.

We wound along a ledge trail, dipping into gulches and then pedaling up to view points. The clouds chased us, gradually engulfing more of the surrounding hills. Their summits poked out of the clouds like islands in the ocean.
As we passed through a gulch, a small herd of elk galloped loudly across the trail ahead of us, hooves pounding the rocky ground as they descended into extremely rough terrain. K's verve skyrocketed. She usually leaves these creatures alone, but we had to stop to do some remedial training in the spot where the elk had crossed the trail. Hopefully, it's just excitement about seeing them for the first time in months.

Finally, we emerged in a meadow, now covered in brown dry grass and naked aspen trees, with the snowy mountains in the back ground. I love this spot.
After I dropped K off at home, I headed out solo, and somehow entered a time warp. I became so engrossed in my riding and the world around me that I lost all semblance of time sense. Now, that's a sign of a good ride, except when you have vet and dentist appointments to go to!

A bobcat had taken my trail, leaving numerous scent posts smack in the middle of the path. I've read that the bobcat digs his shallow pit, leaving a scent from the sweat glands in his paws. Then, he leaves his scat either in the pit or on top of the small pile of dirt he created.
As I continued along my ridge trail, an odd series of events occurred, making me wonder if a large predator lurked nearby. A deer herd of about eight came sprinting over a rise, directly at me, and didn't seem eager to change course to avoid me. I waved my arms and yelled, worried that they'd trample me. They veered slightly to my right, down a slope, and into the forest. Their behavior led me to believe that some other animal, who scared them more than I did, prowled nearby.

As I rode onward warily, I saw movement up the slope in a boulder-strewn spot. I thought that I glimpsed the thick and muscular tawny legs of a cat, as the animal agilely negotiated the boulders. I stopped, dropped my bike, and tried to get a better view without going any closer. Alas, I couldn't see any more movement and didn't want to risk a confrontation. However, I did see what looked like a set of antlers sticking up from the midst of the boulders. I struggled mightily with my curiosity which was urging me to climb the slope and look at the antlers. But, I managed to stop myself - however, curiosity is going to be the end of me someday! Putting all of my observations together, I think that I may have stumbled across a deer that had just been killed and seen his herd fleeing.

I hopped back on my bike and rode toward home, with one eye constantly scanning behind me. Nothing else odd happened.
I arrived home, unscathed, but profoundly curious. I wonder what was going on in that dark section of forest. I never stop wondering and looking for clues about the daily life of our wild animals. I think that's part of why I love visiting the forest so much.The wild animals at home snarled, growled, and gnashed teeth in mock fighting. I think that K is feeling great based on her enthusiasm for playing with R. Notice that R has taken to 'self-handicapping', placing himself in a non-threatening position on his back, to entice the nervous K to play. R is learning the nuances of self-control so that other dogs will frolic with him!


  1. Such wonders!

    Again, tank woo fur sharing!

    Hope all are feeling okay out there!


  2. Hi KB

    you do have an insatiable appetite to see the wonders of your world...

    The mountains popping out of the mist are very picturesque and painterly...

    It sounds as if the jaw discomfort is easing..I hope so...

    Happy days

  3. Did you toss the "stick" a few times for R to play fetch?

  4. I hope your jaw is feeling better!

    What a weird situation with the deer in the forest. I probably wouldn't have known better and would have went to investigate.

    I love seeing pictures of K playing. Looks like she's getting back to her normal self after her ordeal.

  5. Hey there KB

    Thank you, yet again, for sharing the wonders of your world, your beautiful pictures and the vivid descriptions of your experience. I felt my adrenaline taking off whilst reading and recalling the times when I was really super-fit. I remember that feeling too, many years ago, when you can ride forever! It is an experience that allows one to reach new heights and plod on relentlessly. Oh man!...quite awesome! Thank you for sharing! Really...THANK YOU!

    Anyway, we hope your jaw is feeling a lot better and that you will be able to ride your stories, into our lives, for a long time to come.

    We love your doggies coats too- I was singing your praises to the whole family last night.


  6. Kia ora KB,
    Been away for a bit , but always enjoy stopping in and catching up with your latest adventures. Isn't it almost haunting when the clouds hang low over the mountains? I love it.

  7. the photos are just beautiful....too cool that perhaps you came across a kill....will you go check out the spot today for evidence??! oh, how i love these stories, and how you cue into K's stature....i wonder if Patricia McConnell reads your blog...i bet she would find it fascinating! :)

  8. Hi KB,
    Two things I wanted to mention but forgot from your last post: Have you tried just using your telemark skis to tour rather than to ski downhill? I use touring skis on the trails all winter - the new ones have metal edges and are curved so they're much more stable than my ancient cross country ones. I think the touring boots and skis are lighter than telemarks. Also, hope your mouth is feeling better!

    Last fall, my husband and I were biking the Nat'l Monument, and we had stopped briefly. Rocks began falling to the road surface from the cliff above us and just as we looked up, a Big Horn ram jumped from the edge about 30' to the road surface just in front of me and in an instant jumped again over the cliff on the opposite side. Too quick for even a picture. When we spoke to the ranger about it, he said that there had been Mountain Lion sightings in that area and he believed the ram decided jumping from a cliff was preferable to being killed by the Mountain Lion! I wouldn't doubt that you did see a big cat - be VERY careful!

  9. I'm glad the herd veered in time. My two spooked a huge elk on our property once and sent him sprinting straight at me. Lilly zigged. Ginko zagged, and Senior Elk flew back toward the house. Having a buck that big headed toward me was really something. Eek!

    Tom wants me and Lilly to wear orange when we walk. Where did you get your dog vests?


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