This morning, I started my riding on the roads while the rest of the pack went running on the trails. The sky yawned wide and blue over my head but clouds drifted among the high alpine peaks.
I rode mellowly, trying to protect my spine. The pain has been so much more intense since I was forced to stop taking anti-inflammatories that an element of fear permeated my pedaling this morning. My back doesn't hurt while I ride - in fact, my lingering back spasms from lying still all night relax during the ride. The fearful pedaling stems from my worry that the pain later in the day might be worse if I ride hard.
Another fear drove me, a fear that I might have an extended period of not riding my bike through nature. By gathering more information about my spine cases like mine, I'm moving beyond the denial phase and starting to accept that I have serious work ahead of me - surgeries, rest, and rehab. I tend to focus on the short term, so I see the surgeries as disabling, in the sense that they'll stop me from doing what I love for a while. However, a spine expert suggested that I think of them as enabling - because they'll help prevent irreversible nerve damage, thereby keeping me active. It's a good way to think.
As I rode, I saw a multitude of animal tracks and kept thinking about the hard work done by invisible animals in the dark of night. Deer and elk searching for forage. Coyotes and bobcats searching for rabbits, squirrels, mice, and other small rodents to eat. And, those small animals scurrying around, warily glancing over their shoulders, seeking seeds and vegetation to fuel them for another day.
The tracks of a shrew stood out in the glittering snow under the deep blue sky.
After a while, I picked up the pups and we did a snowbike ride on our trails. The pups pulled me out of my introspective reveries as they played boisterously. On days like today, I don't know what I'd do without my 'fix' of vitamins K and R.
We gazed at a steely looking mountain. The alpine environment looked harsh today.
As I gazed, K wandered a little. I called her back, and she did a rocket-fueled recall that made me chuckle as she leaped through downed trees and flew to me.
At the end of the ride, I decided to check my infrared wildlife camera that's set up near a meadow. I'd hit the jackpot this week! The first hint that I might have great photos were the bobcat tracks heading straight for the camera.
As I exchanged memory cards and fiddled with the camera, K dug a den. I used to come to this site without the dogs. However, I noticed that they sneaked over to check it the following day (photographic evidence!) every time. The site sits only about 20 yards from a trail that we use regularly. Obviously, the dogs' visits don't scare away the animals.
The first series of photos show a bobcat. First, he used his hind feet to dig up a small pile of debris, mostly pine needles.
Then, he crouched directly in front of the rabbit den hole, perhaps planning to leave the lagomorphs a message.
Then, he left scat on top of his pile of needles, exactly like my wildlife books said that bobcats do. Leaving an elevated pile of scat marks their territory.
The next day, Mr. Rabbit appeared and carefully read the bobcat's message. See how he's sniffing at the pine needle pile.
Then, Mr. Rabbit warily glanced around him, checking for predators. Good idea, I think.
The wariness of the rabbit probably saved him because the bobcat returned that afternoon.
He sniffed his own message (I assume that he was the same bobcat as we saw the night before).
He sniffed some more.
Either satisfied with his scat-mail or disgusted with the smell, he lifted his head.And sauntered away from the boulder, not to return for the rest of the week.The rabbits emerged a multitude of times, always looking around for fierce predators. In fact, this morning, another threat arrived.
The coyote sniffed the base of the boulder and departed within 20 seconds.
Wow, what an active spot. I love having my window into the wild world!
If you didn't have a chance to vote on your favorite 'Mountain dog' photo in the previous two posts, I'd love it if you could take a look and leave me a vote. Thanks!