This morning, as I stepped out the door, a sound like a thundering herd met me. The pounding came from our dirt road. I quickly scanned and spotted the entire 100+ herd of huge elk galloping down the middle of the road to a favorite meadow. I'm glad that I wasn't in their way - that herd possesses power beyond my imagination. By the time I grabbed my camera, only a few elk rumps were still visible.
As I rode past their meadow, a fog that already enshrouded the high mountains floated among the smaller eastern peaks.
Soon, the entire world became murky, moist, and cold. I didn't really mind because the fog had a ethereal beauty all its own. The Mountain Bluebirds didn't mind either - they continued their sparring for choice territories.
As I rode, I spotted a deer lying in the grass who seemed to think that she was invisible. Then, a quartet of elk fled across my trail from a grassy meadow into a snowy forest. I dropped my bike to investigate. First, what were they fleeing from? It wasn't me... but I couldn't spot whatever had spooked them. I had hoped for a glimpse of a lion - from a good distance, that is.
Next, I followed the elk tracks for a short way but, by then, they were a mile away from me at the rate they'd been moving. As I climbed back up to the ridge to continue my mountain bike ride, I realized that the sight shown in the photo below is common for me. A bike abandoned next to the trail with the rider nowhere in sight. If you live near me and come across this sight, don't worry - I'm just chasing a lion :)
The Labraduo and I hiked later in the morning, exploring our home turf in great detail. We're learning where the snow melts first, leaving bands of moist dirt good for hiking. We still found little evidence of wildlife, except for blue grouse. Grouse had walked all over the territory that we explored. One had scratched out a small pit before leaving distinctive droppings.
The Labraduo was on high alert. After all, they're bred for hunting birds.
We hit an aspen meadow that had a diverse flock of robins, chickadees, three types of nuthatches, and juncos. They all simultaneously sang different songs, their beautiful breeding season songs rather than alarm calls. I sat against a log to listen, feeling as if I could fall asleep with such gorgeous music rising from the treetops. However, the duo found grouse scat nearby... so we were moving again much sooner than I'd hoped!
We hit a high point, where normally the mountains would greet us. Today, gray fog covered them but I still photographed the handsome Labs. The ever alert R...
And, the always wary K, checking over her shoulder for danger...
As we traipsed home, through patches of newly exposed dirt, we kept seeing snow mold, a gray spider-web-like fungus that grows on the ground when it's covered by snow for a very long time. These spots likely hadn't seen the sky since October. A wintergreen plant (I think), who will sport pink umbrella-like blossoms in the summer, survived the snow and is now enduring the fungus. What a hardy soul!
After I photographed the wintergreen plant, I caught K giving me one of her probing gazes. I love her eyes when she looks at me like this.
Although it was a murky and foggy day in our little universe, it was beautiful as well. I'm grateful for every day that I get in our forest with my pups.
I still haven't seen definite signs of active bears in our forest but I have lots of footage still to show you from March. Here, mom surveys her forest while one of her cubs climbed a tree, again. I have to say that I think that this sow has a heart of gold and an endless well of patience to have shepherded such hellions through the dangers of their first year of life. Here's to you, mama bear!