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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mellow and melting winter day

This morning, K eagerly peered out our windows, ready to romp on our trails. I was glad to see her enthusiasm because she had an upset stomach last night. I used to view that as a random non-worrisome event but, since her latest pancreatitis episode, I fret far more than I used to. So far, she seems OK.
Yesterday afternoon, when I attempted to ski on our trails, I discovered that the usual trampling had occurred. I used to get mad about this wanton destruction of my ski trail-breaking efforts but not any more. Now, I just view it as people packing the trails for my snowbike. Thanks to their efforts, K and I rolled out onto our trail network this morning! The left trail in the photo was a ski trail until yesterday... Now it's a Fatback trail!
K sat next to my amazing snow bike. Without this bike, riding on the trails would have been impossible today.
K doesn't look happy in the photo with my bike, does she? But, just a minute later, she probingly gazed at me and then launched into a silly fit of wriggling on her back in the snow.
It was another classic Colorado winter day. The blue sky rung deep and clear, contrasting with the white snow and green pine needles.
The ice crystals atop the snow glittered in the sunshine. An animal, perhaps a coyote, had galloped through this shimmering field of snow.
My bike amazed me as I churned along some trails that had loose and shifting snow. Although it was slow-motion mountain biking, I was glad to be pedaling! Snowbiking involves hard pedaling just stay upright at times. It builds strength rather than speed when the snow is still thick and hard to penetrate. Regardless, it's hard work so K and I stopped for a break at a view point.
We ran across tracks that I've never seen at this elevation. I believe that they are snowshoe hare tracks, based on the size of the hind paws. When a rabbit or hare 'hops' forward, the smaller front paws hit the ground first, one at a time. They're the lower tracks in the photo. Then, the larger hind paws synchronously reach ahead of the front paws, leaving the rabbit coiled for the next stride.
In these tracks, the hind paw prints exceeded 4" long and were quite wide, almost like snow shoes! These tracks are different from any Mountain Cottontail Tracks that I've seen before. For example, see the more classic cottontail tracks that I photographed recently with a bobcat's tracks close behind.

After K and I had played on our trails, I pedaled out on the roads solo. The theme for the day was that everything is melting, especially the layer of snow covering our dirt roads. I got covered in mud but didn't mind too much. I saw a few north-facing views that still looked like winter wonderlands.
From the bottom of a gulch, I could look up through a tangle of barren willows to see the mountains peeking at me.
Although other local mountain bikers declared that this storm was 'it', the storm that closed the trails to regular mountain bikes until May, I'm starting to think that they're wrong. The intense sun is melting the white carpet at a stunning rate. I suspect that the sun is still a little too high in the sky at mid-day to let the snow linger. Regardless, what an amazing world we live in. The snow today will make the flowers bloom in the spring!
I wonder what the slope where I captured that photo looks like right now. Arctic, I suspect.


  1. K was ALMOST upstaged by the last pic with the flowers...

    Please note the word ALMOST!

    Thanks again!

  2. K - we are with you. We want out the door every morning so we can go enjoy nature too.

  3. Look at the blue in those skies - just unbelievable. We had gray wet skies for two days now and more on the way.

    Another amazing tour:)

    Woos, the OP Pack

  4. Thanks for sharing your beautiful
    "neck of the woods'"

  5. What beautiful skies! Glad your worries about K were for naught. She looks great!

  6. Don't think I've ever seen snowshoe hare tracks, though we have them and I've actually seen some a few times hopping like mad across an upper ski trail. Our skies were blue, but it's still cold here so not too much melt. We're leaving (hopefully) by 6AM - the gear is all packed. Lucinda is coming along...

  7. Amazing photographs! That first picture of K really highlights how strong she is. Look at all that muscle.

    The scenery near your home is just breathtaking. I am so glad you were able to enjoy it today.

  8. exactly what i love and remember about colorado...the color of the sky and the bright sun! such gorgeous pictures...
    i love the pic of K kissing R...great catch with the camera!
    the beauty of your blog gives me peace everyday....thank you!

  9. Another amazing morning ride! Neat to see the hare print!

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

  10. Out of curiousity, what kind of care do you have to give her paws so she can go on these trails? It sounds like a lot of fun to give a try sometime, but I worry about the poor dog's feet.

  11. I've never seen snowshoe tracks, either. Very neat!


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