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Monday, April 5, 2010

Exploring and bear play, play, play!

I'm enjoying the feeling that my neck fusion is healing and that I'm growing stronger every day. Some days, I feel like I want to ride my mountain bike and hike all day long! I can't do that yet but just wait!

I started my day with a mountain bike ride, in clear-cut wintery conditions. Wind literally howled through boulder outcroppings, and intense snow squalls came and went as fast as the wind. I felt great spinning the pedals and again gave thanks for the ability to ride a bike despite my spine.
As soon as I arrived home, K and I headed out for an exploratory hike. Suddenly, spring had sprung again, and we hiked under a warm sun. We navigated down one edge of a sun-soaked and nearly snow-free slope, and then we hiked up the other side. We stayed next to the snowline but didn't have to walk in snow. I searched for animal tracks in the snow next to us.

If you look at the hills behind K in the photo below, it's hard to believe that we found this band of snow-free hillside. It's amazing how dramatically a slight difference in hill orientation affects the snow cover.
In the photo below, K peered out at the slope that we were about to descend.
As I looked for animal tracks in the snow's edge, K sniffed vigorously when we passed downwind of an interesting scent.Partway down, she must have picked up quite a stench and made a funny face! K asked me NOT to include this photo but I couldn't help myself...
We descended all the way to a creek, which recently has lost its ice cover.
The willows and other shrubs lining the creek showed signs of spring growth - pink and greenish hues on their twigs and some swollen buds. However, no buds had burst to expose food for our wildlife. Despite that, K acted as if many animals had trekked through the plain near the creek. I had to recall her off an enticing scent.
After a break by the creek, we turned to look at our climb, a big rocky climb. We scrambled our way among fallen trees, strewn boulders, loose soil, and patches of snow. I spotted only deer tracks that were clear enough to identify. I also spotted trampled areas that looked like wildlife daybeds used sometime recently.

When we clambered over the boulder wall at the top the slope, the wind hit us from the west and sent K's ears flopping akimbo. It also made her nervous, as you can see from her facial expression.
In a calm moment between wind gusts, K looked back over her shoulder at the hike that we'd done. She beamed and so did I. What fun we'd had! We've covered so many miles in the forest together that we can hike or bike virtually silently. K moves silently by my side, enjoying the explorations as much as I do.
As we hiked, I thought about the bear trio whose footage has delighted me. I'm including the next segment of their rambunctious play. This video shows how attentive and protective their mother is. That explains how she managed to shepherd two cubs through the first precarious year of life.


  1. Thanks for sharing these insights into worlds we'll never see!

  2. It looks like you and K had another exciting day. Even with her funny face, that girl still never seems to take a bad picture!

    I could watch those bears for hours! How much longer do you think it will be before they leave the den and start looking for food? As active as they're starting to get in their play, it seems like they'll start needing to eat soon.

  3. Do you still think the Mom has the facial dermatitis? I can't tell if both the cubs do, but one also has a face like the Mom. Do you think this cub has what Mom does?

    Can they recover from this? Will sun and the air help them?

    I love these pictures too.

    Jo and Stella

  4. such wonderfully intimate photos of the bears!!! i'll say it hit the jackpot with this camera placement! so the bears return to the same den year after year?
    regarding transplants on animals...only feline kidney transplants are performed, dogs reject kidneys and the research is still ongoing for canines...the kidneys come from felines that are born and raised in a sterile environment, somewhere out east...they are pricey as one might imagine...they are driven from the east coast to us...the owners of the cat needing the kidney must adopt the donor cat...they are all really well socialized and wonderful cats..(the UW in Madison is one of the leading universities for cat kidney transplantation, one of our doctors is on the forefront of this technique and the preservation technique for the kidney once removed from the donor) i'm sure if you google it, you will find a link about the procedure....
    have a great week and don't over do it!!!

  5. Your opening paragraph is so bright and upbeat.

  6. I'm amazed at the rough terrain and all the miles you are covering. You sure do seriously work on building yourself back up. It helps to be living in an area that looks so wonderful to explore.

    I was wondering if your camera placement is only capturing activity right in front of the den? Do they really stay so close with all their play or do they sometimes wander farther out where your camera doesn't take photos? I suppose if all you have to go by is your camera footage you have no way of knowing unless you check tracks when you retrieve the pictures.

  7. It is so hot here that it is actually refreshing to look at the snow in your pics. Our human niece loved watching the video of the bears. Thanks for putting a smile on her face.

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  8. Great news on your improvement. Poor K did have a point asking you not to post that shot, but I enjoyed it anyhow. Momma bear is like my mommy BOL

  9. Ha! We call those kind of funny faces making "Snoopy Lips."

  10. Stella: I'm not sure if the cubs have the same dermatitis as mom (mange). The scientists believe that hibernating bears are prone to it because they're immune systems go partially to sleep along with the rest of them. In many bears, the mange goes away in the summer. It's much more rare in cubs than in adults so I wonder if the cubs actually have brown fur rings around their eyes.

    Maery: You're right - I think that the cubs were ranging beyond the view of my cameras but I can't know exactly where they went unless I find tracks.

  11. Hi KB,
    I imagine you have some new snow covering that ridge today! I keep wondering how those 3 bears can all squeeze into the den! Lucky for them, they'll soon be wandering the forest. Looks as though that one little guy is ready.


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