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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Outdoor fun and more bear antics!

We started our day yesterday with a hike up a favorite ridge, from a trailhead a short drive from home. K and I climbed up the south side of the slope, which aside from gullies and small forested sections, was dry! Because the boys of the family were running out ahead of us, the start of our hike was an exercise in recalls. I'd release K, she'd accelerate to try to catch the runners, I'd call her back to me, and then we'd repeat! Below, she's recalling after one of her short chases.
Despite our 'game' of recalls, we rapidly climbed to an elevation with a view. K ecstatically sniffed a scent. The scent might have been elk - it appeared that after our 4' of fresh snow last week, the crafty elk herd headed for this south-facing hillside, knowing that the grass would emerge here first.
Once we attained the spine of the ridge, we walked on the brink between two worlds, the dry and grassy south-facing slope and the deeply snow-covered north-facing slope. K stood on the edge of the snowy and tree-dominated north-facing slope in the photo below.
I walked just on the edge of the snow, watching for animal tracks. I've ridden my mountain bike on this trail hundreds of times and have seen animals and their tracks crossing the ridge from one section of wilderness to another. Last fall, I saw the tracks of a mother mountain lion and her large kitten on two occasions. They climbed up from the south side following the least steep slope and crossed into the forest at a saddle in the ridge. At that same saddle, I had a bobcat try to sneakily cross the ridge just behind me as I perused a wildflower last summer. He came within about 20-30 yards of me... don't worry, bobcats aren't dangerous to humans - they're too small.

Yesterday, I saw a maze of elk tracks, some deer tracks, bobcat scent posted freshly marked with scat, and one somewhat rare track - a huge turkey track. The turkey left only about 4 tracks, and I know that hunting season is either here or approaching so I tried to rub them out. But, the ground was still frozen solid so I couldn't. I hope that this big bird makes it through the season!
At one point, I strayed into the snow, looking even more intently for the tracks of rarer animals - perhaps the track of an awakening bear or a lion. But, I didn't find any. K stood and watched.
After I turned around to head back toward the car, we met the boys. The Labraduo broke into wild playing in the snowy sections. It was funny that the snow itself seemed to trigger the play.
As an interesting note for anyone who has a dog with joint problems, we've noticed that Adequan injections (liquid glucosamine) have given K her top sprinting speed back. She has the start of arthritis in her spine so we decided to try to head it off with Adequan. Since starting it about 6 months ago, her top speed as returned to scorching levels, and she can even outrun R!
We brought along my bike so that I could start my ride from someplace new, expanding my horizons since I still can't ride all that far. As I rode along a dirt road, I noticed that a few aspen buds were bursting open. These will become fuzzy catkins, essentially aspen seeds, and are a delicious food for wildlife, including birds and bears. Now, for some odd reason, the aspens in this particular spot are always weeks ahead of every other aspen tree in the area each spring. So, everyplace else, the aspens have only red buds.
I had a great ride in perfect conditions with sparse traffic and made it further up my road than I have since my surgery, reaching a point where I could glimpse a new view. I think that my favorite part of surgery is feeling the incredible rebuilding properties of the human body. It can be beaten down but almost always springs back!
After that morning flurry of activity, I came home and put together a video clip of bear play from outside the den. Notice that one cub definitely looks bigger, plays more aggressively, and roams further from the den than the other. Perhaps that is a sign that we have a male and female yearling in this family. In any case, the footage makes it obvious that a bear family is a tight-knit and loving clan. These are sensitive and caring creatures, and they are most definitely NOT the scary monsters that so many people envision.

Also, keep in mind that this rambunctious play occurred within about an hour of the family coming out of the den for the first time in a long time (except for mom's short trips to eat snow and urinate). Imagine having muscles that can stay so strong while lying still for months on end! Bears have amazing physiological tricks that make it possible for them to run at full speed and climb trees almost immediately after sleeping for months. After lying still for that long, humans would lose so much muscle strength that they would probably have trouble standing upright immediately after leaving the den. Then, it would take a human months to rebuild their muscles. Bears are amazing!


  1. Wishing you a Hoppity Easter that is eggs-tra special☺

  2. Those cubs are just so cute! Maybe K and R were trying to reenact the bear play. You certainly have some spectacular views. I'm glad to hear you had such a good day to be out doing your favorite things yesterday!

    Happy Easter!

  3. The bear pics are wonderful and I am ready for the video anytime!

    Good news for K and her shot and I am happy you are out on your bike again.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo and Stella

  4. I have heard a lot of good about Adequan injections. I don't think Marge needs them, but she should be on a supplement. Lots of people have told me to get her plain ol' glucosamine, I'd guess in capsule form.

    I loved watching the bear cubs play! The picture of the bear with its tongue out is funny, too! Also, the way mama and baby stood waiting for the 3rd bear to come back reminds me so much of when Marge is waiting for someone to come back - with those perked up ears and big, pleading eyes. I sure am glad the cub returned!

  5. Happy Easter Coloradans! What a great thread of a theme here - regeneration of bodies that De-generate! Your sharp eyes see so many track of such an assortment of wildness - it's just stunning! You just KNOW so much, such as thinking to cover those turkey tracks - such a generous move - hope he survives the season too - he definitely has a better chance with you as his pal! And the bear movie is absolutely amazing - love the cub taking a look at the camera! (And all of the images and vids!) Have a peaceful Sunday, KB!
    xoxoxo Sammie and mom
    PS - oh - if you "do" these, have tagged you for a meme - but in your case, it's a bit redundant, cause you ALWAYS have so many interesting pix!

  6. Thanks for the heads up on glucosamine injections. Digby has had glucosamine tablets twice a day for the last two years and we swear by them. His dysplasia has certainly improved. If it gets worse we'll check out the injections. In Sweden we used to find Elks all over the place they are a major cause of accidents . I wonder if they are the same as Coloradan Elks ?

  7. Hi KB - If those glucosamine shots worked so well for K, maybe I should try some! Great footage of The Three Bears. I was thinking on your last video that one cub seemed smaller - however, "she" seems to hold her own. What a long-suffering Mama!

  8. Snow always makes me burst into spontaneous play, too! You two look like you are having a blast playing in the mountain snow! Glad to hear your mom is bike riding. What a beautiful place to ride a bike and observe all Nature has to offer!

    The bear video is amazing. Loved when baby bear played with the camera. Great extreme close-up shots!

    Happy Easter!


  9. Hoppy Easter!


    Mom says thanks for sharing the bears! It is incredible to see!

  10. They are amazing...and I never tire of seeing them. I'll be bummed when they go on their way...

  11. You go, K, and don't let R outrun you. Gotta keep the youngsters in check.

  12. We have to go back a few posts and catch up on our reading - we have not been doing very well with our reading the past few days. Mom thinks she might need some of those injections for her pain too:)

    The bears are so much fun to watch. They sure do have fun together.

    Off to read back a bit now.

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  13. Yay for bodies that spring back - yours, K's and those bears'. I'm always amazed at how my body works and what it can do, but boy, those bears sure have me beat!

    K's recall impresses me again. I don't think Kona could handle having her pack split up on a hike. She always needs to have tabs on everyone if I'm out with other people.

    I'm looking forward to seeing your forest when spring and summer are in full bloom.

  14. I swear I scream every time your post such amazing footage of the bears. I LOVE that there are 2 of them and that you caught them playing like a couple of pups.

  15. I got to test my Mini Cooper's agility today swerving around a turkey that decided to cross through traffic. She did make it. I've seen quite a few of those critters lately. I figured they knew it was Easter and people generally eat ham not turkey so it was okay to be out and about.

    Glad to hear you are catching some variety in your biking. And thanks for the bear photos/videos. So much fun to watch them in their natural environment.


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