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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Melting snow, rain, and bears!

A lone elk watched me ride my bike past her this morning under misty skies. I've noticed our elk herd has been lying around a lot lately. Then, I read that more elk starve to death in the early spring than at any other time of year. They've burned their reserve fat, and the green grass hasn't yet sprouted. The remaining grass is low in nutrition. So, it makes sense that our elk herd seems to be conserving energy these days by resting - except when they're stampeding down the middle of our road!
During my mountain bike ride, I explored a gulch that I haven't ridden since late last fall, with towering rock walls lining one side and a flowing creek on the other side. This gulch is a wildlife alley but I saw no animals this morning, only elk and deer tracks.
When I arrived home, I took the Labraduo for a short hike through a rapidly melting snowpack. We found one of our dog blaze orange vests that we lost just before a huge snow storm last fall. Our dogs wear these to be very visible during deer and elk rifle seasons. This vest was covered in snow for about 5 months.
We crested a ridge and the dogs alerted on a scent. First they stared one way.
And then the other.
Finally, they disagreed on where the scent was coming from! At least they covered all the angles.
Shortly later, K posed daintily on a boulder with a cloudy horizon behind her. I've discovered that sensible K doesn't like sharing exposed boulders with the less conservative R. She leaped off this boulder as soon as R tried to join her. Smart girl.
As we descended a south-facing slope, I noticed a bluish hue emanating from the ground cover. I discovered tiny blue flowers that have all opened in the last couple of days. They were scattered across the slope like glowing gems.
As we descended further, our first rain of the year started splattering onto my head and rolling off the dogs' coats. We hustled back up the hill toward home. We crossed a deep green basin covered in rejuvenated kinnikinnick under stormy skies.
Once again, we found no obvious signs of large mammals passing across the nearby steeply sloped canyon - a mecca for bears and cats. I wonder what our bears are up to. For the moment, I'm staying away from the den but I still have footage from last month that I collated into a video. Enjoy!


  1. Ha - love the trio of scent-tracking photos:)

    Love seeing the flowers you are finding - so different from any we are accustomed to.

    And those bears - bet they are ready to emerge = best to stay away/.

  2. Loved this post, KB! (I know I tell you this all the time, but this time REALLY!) The photos of your tracking duo were hilarious - get on the same page you guys! I'm glad you added a blue flower for me, and I can't believe your kinnikinnick is so green (I enlarged that pic t make sure I wasn't hallucinating.) Lastly, your yearling cubs reminded me of Sumo wrestlers.

  3. Five months under the snow? What a fantastic precaution though. Your pack couldn't be safer. You've demonstrated that over and over. Thank you for sharing with Frankie that K was timid in class too, in the beginning. She's feeling much better now.

  4. What terrific bear pics, I have missed these guys and will look forward to the final (?) installment. Will you take the camera down from that spot (the bear den) or will you leave it up?

    The Labrabrothers are in fine fettle as usual!

    Jo and Stella

  5. Great pics and fun bear footage!

    The lone elk reminds me of Khyra just being out in her yard!

  6. I love the bear pics, but not as much as those cute ones of K and R! "He went that way!" "No, that way!" They seem so much like a human brother and sister sometimes to me.

  7. Laughing at the labraduo directional scenting - a little "which way did he go" routine.

  8. I've been wondering where that vest went! It's pretty funny how the snow has left it undisturbed for nearly half a year. When you lose something in New York, it typically stays lost.. though I did get lucky once, finding my keys after losing them at near sundown one day out in the big field.

    It is starting to look like spring out there in Colorado!

  9. I just got caught up on your blog...I've missed being able to check on you, K, and R while I've been in the hospital.
    As always, your photos amaze me!
    Love the bears!
    Hugs and belly rubs to the Labraduo,

  10. Love seeing these lands in mistiness! Your route takes you to such beautiful places - I always say this, but true - love those blue flowers and the pix of K and R on the rocks, sniffing in all directions - wonderful! And the bear show is amazing - how DO they have the energy at this point, to engage in such activity? It's really incredible! Thanks for news from the Rockies!
    Hugs xo
    Sammie and Mom

  11. the stampeding elk post the other day made me go white in the face. holy cow! what would have happened if you were there?

    love k & R's scent alerts! that sure are smart labraduo's! hilarious.

    and the bears... can never get enough of bear butts!

  12. Loved the whole post. Especially the ones with the labraduo checking scent in all directions. They got it all covered. Mom felt like she was there with you. Beautiful.


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