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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Peaceful wanderings and coyote tensions

Wandering usually implies an aimlessness, lostness, or lack of goal. However, one of my 'goals' for my surgery recovery time is to wander our woods, finding animals paths and dens that I'd never run across on a bike. That made a gift from SMRP all the more apt. It says "Not all that wander are lost" (JRR Tolkien). I love it!

Today, K and I followed the well-trodden path of an elk herd down a snowy slope. Their route was too obvious to lose, especially when multiple herd members decided to relieve themselves all in the same area.
We followed the vagaries of their route choice, until the footing became too tricky. Then, we dropped down to a packed path.
Near the elk super-highway, I spotted tracks that looked like a mountain lion had also followed the herd. The stride length and straddle fit the bill for a lion. He dragged his paws slightly in the snow but I couldn't find a clear track. So, it was probably a lion but I wasn't certain. I wanted to backtrack him, to see his exact path, but the footing looked too treacherous for a person who's supposed to be 'taking it easy' while recovering from spinal surgery. So, I didn't.
When I arrived home, I felt a little beleaguered, wishing that I could follow my whims in the forest. So, I looked back at photos from my first big hikes after my spinal fusion surgery four years ago. They looked pretty spectacular. It's worth taking it easy so that I have these hikes in my future! I also love that my S is in the photo below.
This evening, the pack headed out for a hike, enjoying complete solitude on the trails. R zipped around like his usual high-voltage self. Here, I called him and he sprinted at warp speed straight at me.
At the last instant, he dug in all four heels and stopped, sending snow crystals flying into the air.
The skies emanated blues, purples, whites, and pinks.
To the west, they clouds looked threatening and whipped a cold wind in our faces. Our winter friend, the wind, is making a return.
As we finished our hike, R stood like a statue in the midst of the skeleton grove of aspens. Dusk was peacefully falling on our forest, and it was time to hike the last few yards toward home. Recently, our wildlife cameras have been occupied away from our house, monitoring lion carcasses, among other things. For last night, I pointed our infrared camera at the base of our birdfeeder to find out if the coyotes were still visiting on a nightly basis. For the first time, I set it to take 1 minute video clips whenever an animal came within its view. A trio of coyotes chowed down on fallen birdseed. Then, something alarmed all of them - either an intrapack altercation or something outside the camera view.

Now, I've moved the camera back to the bobcat and rabbit boulder, where scat markings and scrapings indicate a recent flurry of bobcat activity. It'll be interesting to get video of the bobcats.


  1. What great shots AGAIN!

    And yes: you are SUPPOSED to be taking it 'easy'

    Hmmmm, Khyra loves to feed on fallen bird seed too - I think it is her fiber intake!

    The coyote video was incredible!

    Thanks for sharing it!

  2. I almost wondered if the one coyote were younger than the other pair. It's a cool video!

    A friend of mine just got a chocolate lab puppy and she is gorgeous! As I was looking at the pictures, I found myself thinking that K must have looked a lot like she does as a puppy.

    I was wondering if you happen to be near Dillon or know much about it. It turns out we might be there some time in March, but I have no idea of anything that's there!

  3. It's really cool to see other canine species interacting with each other and their environment.

    Thanks for your thoughts on our noise problems yesterday. Noises, in my opinion, are probably the hardest fears for dogs to overcome. We'll keep at it.

  4. Hey there KB
    That is really awesome footage of the coyotes! Wow, you live in an unpredictable environment!
    You are right to 'WONDER' about taking it are laying foundations for the road ahead.
    Sending lotsaluv from us all. Thanks too for the truly awesome are a star!

  5. I have to say that it's turning into spring time here in the south of France and looking at those cold mountain outlines I'm glad winters nearly over. Does a cold biting wind bring on aches and pains or are you hardened against it?

  6. interesting video!
    sounds like your recovery and K's is going well...(i think your Doc might cringe if she/he saw your "walking" terrain! :)
    beautiful picture of S...
    and R's exuberance always makes me smile!
    love the quote!
    hope your feeling stronger everyday! (and thanks for the nice comments...)

  7. As always, you give us so much to comment on. Such as the Tolkien quote which I think of regularly as I wander the trails and paths of my own mountains. Nothing like getting "lost" (the relative lost, not the real lost) and enjoying the beauty and awesomeness that Mother Nature provides.

    Love seeing the dogs. K's majesty. S smiling in that beautiful clear day. And R's incredible enthusiasm - even in the simple act of stopping - lol.

    And LOVED the coyote video and watching the pack dynamics.

  8. I have a t-shirt w/ hiking boots and the Tolkien quote on it.
    The video is fascinating!
    S was a beauty!
    Take care,

  9. Hi KB, Thank you for the forest and sunset shots - just what I've been missing. It doesn't seem as though your K equates the elk droppings as "Milk Duds." (My Grandlab does and must be told "leave it!" so she doesn't feast on them!) I found the coyote interaction very interesting. The slinking of one of the coyotes when the interloper began asserting dominance is telling. There does seem to be an alliance of sorts - no flattened ears and the tails are wagging.

  10. Beautiful pictures of everything - you are blessed with the gorgeous wildness of where you live. But do care for yourself - Max said it well. We think of you lots and are amazed by those coyote shots! Thanks for sharing your world with us - careful!!!
    Big Hugs xo
    Sammie, Miche and Bill

  11. Ah, remind me not to hike with you KB. I sure like you and all, but I'm not so sure I'd want to follow Mt. Lion tracks for fun. holy crap, you're crazy! :)

    The coyote vid is awesome. I'm so fascinated with animal behavior, but canine behavior specifically. Because they seemed smart enough to get close to humans and domesticate for survival. Even coyotes hang close to the human areas when available it seems. fascinating.

    wild dingo

  12. pee ess: you are an eloquent writer. but i bet you knew that. duh, huh?


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