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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Freeze frame - forest life stops

First, I have to show off the most perfect birthday present ever. It reminds me of hope - the hope that K and I will float along on our trails together again, with me on wheels and her loping easily beside me. I think that this cycling jersey was made for K and me!
It's easier to see the bicycle cog, adorned with bones, encircling a chocolate lab from K's back.
As my long-term readers know, I tend to ride my bike outdoors regardless of wintery conditions. I have studded tires that give me super-powers on ice and I have fat 4" wide tires that give me float in powder. Alas, I had to yield to my sensible side today (and probably tomorrow), realizing that a single crash could destroy all my hard work by hurting my neck. So, I'm staying on my indoor trainer until the dirt roads are clear of ice. This sensible behavior demonstrates that I do have ONE single neuron in my brain dedicated to common sense.

Truly, it is still winter up here in the thin air.
So, despite the deep snow, I was determined that K and I would have fun sojourn in the woods on foot this morning. We forged a route to the west, initially following our tracks from yesterday and then extending them further.
A veil of gray clouds lagged behind the departing storm. It hung over the Divide to our west.

After following a tortuous route through boulder outcroppings, dense pine forests, and waist-deep snow, we came out on a ridge that's become my favorite. K froze, nose quivering in the air, for 30 seconds. I wondered what she sensed, and started visualizing scary animals like mountain lions.
As I started scanning for danger, she flopped over on her back and started wiggling in the snow, leaving a Dog Snow Angel.
I guess that her "high alert" was to investigate whether it was safe enough for her to be SILLY!

We tromped through deep snow out to a pinnacle. The cloud veil shaded the high mountains closer to us but not the towering peaks behind them. The sunlit ones glowed in the distance. In this photo, also notice how much wild forest still sprawls across our landscape. So much territory to explore!
As we paused on the pinnacle, a flock of ravens focused its attention on us, cawing and swooping in lazy and crazy circles around us. K watched them on one side.
And then, she swiveled her neck when they soared to our other side.
Although K looks as if she's gazing into the future in this photo, she actually silently watched our flock of ravens.
Nearby, K's favorite lookout loomed. Can you believe that a pine tree flourishes in this windswept rock tower? I can't.
K climbed up to survey her kingdom but the ravens continued to circle.
She stared at them as they soared over her head in the photo below.
Finally, one swooped very close and below K's perch, she made a move toward the edge. Fortunately, the alarm in my voice as I said "NO" stopped her in her tracks.
The ravens kept following us as we wended through deadfall at the top of a steep slope. As soon as we moved back from the brink of the slope, the ravens abandoned us.

I wonder why they followed us? Usually, ravens lead us to dead animals. However, in that situation, they focus on the carrion rather than on us. If I'd seen a single deer or cat track today, I might have guessed that a lion was guarding a carcass downhill from us and the ravens were circling as they waited for the lion to let down his guard. The slope is very lion-friendly terrain where I've found their signs many times before. But, I doubt that interpretation because I didn't see a single track from a large animal today. I think that all of our large animals fled to extreme south-facing slopes, that will melt very fast, before the storms hit.

Nature is often an unsolvable mystery for me - but I love trying to solve the mysteries surrounding the behavior of our wildlife. I called today's post "Freeze frame" because large animal activity seems to have ground to a halt since our heavy snowfall. I wonder how the animals know that storms are coming and then where the animals go when they hit. I may be wondering for a long time!

On a side note, I'm feeling much better today although I'm itching to get outside on my bike. For now, I'll enjoy my tromps through the snow with the pups as much as I can. I'm lucky to be able to go for beautiful hikes out my back door despite the deep snow!


  1. WOW!

    What a great shirt!!

    AND WOW: what great freakin' pictures today!!!

    I loved the 'two layered cloud' look -

    Glad you are feeling better too!

  2. So, was it your birthday or K's birthday? We wanna know! The shirt is very cool.

    Thanks for sharing Kona's blog with us yesterday. This is a type of dog I have never experienced, so its going to be a most interesting read.

    Great pictures and the snow is so beautiful! I think K gave you the big alert so you would have something meaningful to do while she had fun!

    Cheers and hugs,
    Jo and Stella

  3. I love that shirt! Oh, if you know where I can find one, would you send me a link? My husband would love that! K is a wonderful model, too, I have to say!

    I guess the modified saying would be "She who rests her bike today, rides again another day!" I hope cabin fever doesn't drive you crazy!

  4. I have a remarkable fear of heights and that was stressful to watch. Thank heavens for good training!
    The shirt was a great idea...

  5. Great shirt...
    I love seeing your dogs doing what they love!

  6. great bike jersey!
    the pics are awesome today, and nail biters!! (K looks like she has filled out) a perfect specimen....:)
    the snow is so beautiful, and will soon be gone...hard to believe when you look at your forest....and soon you will be on your bike!
    have a great wknd!

  7. The cloud in todays photos looks too perfect to be real. The tee shirt is something else.

  8. Was it your birthday?! Happy birthday if it was! (Or to whoever that great bike jersey was for.)

    The first picture of K in the forest really caught my eye. It reminds me of photos of the lone person, walking their trail, surrounded by a great vast of wilderness...You know, those great metaphor shots.

    I'm still smiling from K's wiggle shot. I like how she made sure the coast was clear.

    I'm glad you had a better day and I hope you're able to get out and pedal with your K soon!

  9. oh gosh. Mom always gets anxious when she sees your doggies so high up and so close to the edge! The pictures make it look like it would be a far fall!

    we sure do love reading about your hiking adventures though!

    wags, wiggles & slobbers

  10. Love the shirt. Happy b-day.

    I also love the idea of checking first to see if it's "safe to be silly."

  11. Hey, no changing your mind later. You did the right thing. Stay cautious today so you can enjoy tomorrow and the day after that and.... you get my point. You be careful just for a little while longer.

  12. What a great shirt! And another set of gorgeous photographs.

  13. Finally! I've been having trouble commenting on your Blog. I love these blue sky photos with the cloud cover (and the icicle!). Nice bike shirt, too and a stunning model...Happy Birthday!


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