Rumor has it that a pack of wolves moved into Northern Colorado. After my heartbreaking experience seeing a slaughtered wild canine yesterday, I can't help but worry about a wolf pack's future. I hope that our great state can muster a reasonable spirit and find a path to re-establishing this beautiful species. We need our predators to have a balanced ecosystem, even if their presence causes humans fear. In the West, we've learned to live with mountain lions, and in fact, some people exult in their existence. I hope that the same spirit moves people to welcome wolves.
K and I headed out this morning with the goal of treading in new wild places where we'd never gone before. As we hurried along human-traveled trails, K exuded high energy.
While we hiked on trails, I practiced walking on slippery and uneven, but packed, trails without my neck brace. As I carried it with me, K decided to try it on. At first, she didn't seem to mind it.But then, her facial expression looked just like mine when I have to wear it - very uncomfortable. Don't worry, I took off right after this photo!
I walked a grand total of 1.5 miles this morning completely naked. Um, well, not completely naked, just without my neck brace. My routine is that I don't wear the brace when I'm on packed trails but then I tighten it down around my neck it when I head into uncharted territory where I can't see the rocks and downed trees below the snow. This routine will gradually lead to me never wearing the brace - but it will be a slow process.
As we fled the trails and plunged into the forest, I heard the yapping of our local dog pack and blindly hiked faster to disappear without a trace. To my surprise, I ended up on the same path as my kindred spirit followed a few years ago and marked with tiny flags to guide him on future adventures. I searched for the next flag, hoping to let him guide me through my hike, but many flags were submerged in snow. However, it seemed ironic that, out of the thousands of acres of wildlands surrounding our home, we each chose to walk the same path through the forest albeit separated by a few years.
As we followed our whims and K's nose, winding through the forest, the maze of animal trails amazed me yet again. The animals all use the same trails, packing them down, and making travel more efficient. We followed their paths for the same reason.
We found bobcat tracks crossing this path, and then bobcat fur stuck to the snow. I wonder if the bobcat wriggled on his back here? Or, if he simply lay down for a rest? I'll never know. In this old snow with a rough crust, tracking is difficult.
As we tromped through deep snow in an endless forest of pine trees, I caught a glimpse of our mountains. I love those peeks that seem to cast an alpine light on the deep dark recesses of the forest.
After an uneventful hike, I decided to head for the view point that K and I discovered the other day. We sat, side-by-side, on a boulder and gawked.
Then, in an upwelling wind carrying air from the canyon below us, K's body language told me that she'd caught the distant scent of the bear den. When she continually sniffed and stared in one direction, I asked my GPS to show me where the den was. Her nose aligned perfectly with the arrow on the GPS.
We're in a streak of warm weather, and I need a cold day to visit the den. I plan to replace the memory card and the batteries in the wildlife camera currently recording video by the den. And, I plan to add a second camera (also infrared) that will record still photos when the bears emerge from their cavern. I need a cold day for this den visit because my reading suggests that bears will be sleepier and less disturbed by my visit when it's wintery weather. It's rare for me to wish for cold weather at this time of year - but I'm wishing!
As a side note, R sustained a minor injury last weekend - a badly split toenail. Nail clipping is my specialty in our pack, and I'd slacked off since my surgery. So, his long nail split all the way up into the quick, and he cowered in pain. He ran on three legs, held up his sore paw when he sat, and acted miserable.
I'm including a video below because it's remarkable how much a simple training device called a MannersMinder has transformed nail-clipping sessions with R. This device releases treats either automatically at set intervals or when I hit a switch on a remote control. After I clipped his injured nail and the others, we put on boots to protect his split nail during a hike. I laughed and laughed at his crazy walking while he got used to the boots. I know... it's not nice to laugh but I can't help myself!