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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ridge ride and forest hike

I rode my mountain bike on my favorite ridge today for the first time since surgery!
Although I'd used visions of this ridge to motivate me as I trained on an indoor bike during my rehab, my training wasn't good enough. I was able to do this entire climb before my surgery. I had to hop off the bike about 2/3 of the way up it today. On the bright side, that leaves another goal on the horizon!

The mountain views awed me. The views plus the wildflowers make this my favorite ride.
One view in particular caught my eye. I remember, like it was yesterday, when I stopped at this spot shortly before my neck surgery. I cried because I didn't feel certain that I'd ever ride my bike along the ridge again. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. I rode the ridge today and saw the faraway mountain shimmering like a mirage. I beamed.
Just after that, to keep me from getting too happy, I snapped a spoke in my front wheel. This wheel malady seems never-ending. For my first 20 years of riding, I think that I snapped one spoke. Then, in the past year, I've snapped at least four. Is there a message here? Maybe the message is "Eat fewer oreos"!

Pasqueflowers sprouted from the moist soil everywhere I looked. This is a top view of a Pasqueflower that will probably be fully developed and open tomorrow.
What a transformation a day can make!
When I arrived home, I took the Labraduo out for a hike. I was determined to find some animal signs in the forest... but alas, I don't know where my four-legged wild friends have gone. No tracks, no signs. But, we found a mylar balloon floating in the forest near the start of our hike. This alien shiny object terrified the dogs. I happened to have video rolling so watch their reactions. I was particularly proud of my sensitive K - she would have NEVER courageously investigated the balloon a couple of years ago. Notice that R, our youngster, followed her cue that it was OK.

Shortly after that, we plowed into an aspen grove with bottomless snow. I almost became stuck there forever, as the snow reached above my hip. As I tried to extricate myself, a nearby Red-breasted Nuthatch gave me a lecture.
She tweeted like I'd invaded her territory. This look seemed to say: "You're on my property young lady"!
Then, I noticed a small excavation on the trunk of a nearby tree. I began to wonder if her vociferous protestations had to do with claiming that nesthole as her own. As I finally managed to escape the snow, she looked straight at me with a firm warning not to return.
We took her warning seriously and fled.
We fled straight to a favorite lookout, where R looked handsome against the mountain backdrop.
From there, we started descending, first on dry ground, when we briefly walked on a sun-soaked hillside, gazing down into a golden meadow that contained no wildlife.
Then, we hit the slippery and slushy spring snow. As we stepped onto the first drift, I had my first avalanche sensation ever. The majority of the slab fractured from its mooring and slid a few feet downhill before it ran into a boulder. K looked truly alarmed and stared at the fracture line.
Of course, we weren't in avalanche terrain. The slope was too mild for snow to truly slide and snow only covered about 50% of the hillside. However, I wondered what the avalanche conditions were like up on the high peaks that we could see from our vantage point. I'm betting that things were pretty dicey up there.
We eventually hit a trail and followed it toward home. It was a bottomless quagmire of slippery and treacherous spring snow. I'd hoped that the wildlife had started using it and had left tracks. Nope. They're much smarter than I am.

However, the dogs had a blast. R bounded into a snow drift.
K started a belly slide downhill.
And, I contemplated when this favorite mountain biking trail was ever going to be free of snow! August, maybe? Usually, it opens in May so I expect the melting to accelerate. K is on the trail in the photo below - not that it's apparent!
As a side note, I still have more bear footage to share, and I'll get to work on that soon (maybe tomorrow). In the meantime, to those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, enjoy springtime! I am!


  1. We had a Mylar balloon land in our yard and got the same reactions! These dogs know when something does not belong. That flower picture was quite beautiful. Is the 2nd flower the same one but open? They don't look the same at all.
    Oh, about the spokes - they don't make 'em like they used to!

    The Duchess

  2. We get wind off the prairies much of the time and therefore, sometime is always blowing around in our backyard. Paper things are OK with Stella, but NOT plastic grocery bags. They seem to spook her everytime!

    Great post today, lots to see and do. You know I am looking forward to the rest of the bear pix.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo and Stella

  3. I've been playing catch up but I'm losing the battle, so I just enjoyed my stay at your blog, half reading old posts, half taking in your spectacular photos. For some reason, the snow bath stands out more vividly than the rest. I love happy dogs, maybe that's why. I'm so happy you reached yet another milestone in your uphill recovery. Glad you conquered your favorite ridge and I hope you get to conquer anything humanly possible in the future. As for the duffel bag story you shared with me... precious! You also gave me a solution on how to sneak in our Linguini (Dalmatian mix, about 60lbs)
    Always happy to visit, especially when I read about progress like today
    Twinkie's mom

  4. Yeah ridge ride! You must be proud of that HUGE accomplishment!

    K and R look so happy in all your photos today. I especially liked the one of the duo fleeing the nuthatch.

    Bike Geek speaking: Are you breaking spokes on the same wheel? It sounds fishy to break so many spokes all of a sudden. If you completely rebuild the wheel (if one wheel's causing the problem) with new,hefty spokes; knowing your spoke tension is right; you should go back to your once-in-20-year spoke breaking pace. Misshaped hub holes are also notorious for snapping spoke heads...alright, bike geek signing off!

  5. A broken spoke? That sucks just as you're getting out and about! It's like a big tease!

    K and R with that balloon cracked me up! R's face in that first shot was classic. And then at the end they were so ferocious. "Just get on out of here!" We had one who spent an entire summer in fear of fan cords on the floor!

  6. Just so proud of you for forging your way up that ridge, no matter what!!! What a goal - and more to come! Sorry about that spoke though - and... maybe that nuthatch! Those flowers are amazing - so furry and interesting, despite the lack of wildlife! Love the pix, the views, and Sam also hates balloons! I first found this out when we went to that ride-a-thon several months ago and they had a horsie balloon - she never stopped barking at it as it played in the breeze. Next balloon she hated? The Met Life Blimp. Whenever she spies a blimp in the sky, it's bark, bark, bark til it heads off!
    Hugs xoxo
    Sammie and ma

  7. Every time I come back here, you've reached another goal! I'm so glad that you were able to ride at least part of your beloved ridge today. I look forward to the day when you feel ready to take the whole forest by storm on your bike again.

    Funny about K, R, and the balloon. Sadly, litter like that is commonplace here in New York, so Marge usually walks by it without a second thought (or sometimes "waters" it).

  8. CONGRATS!!!

    We knew you could do it -
    and in your heart you knew you would!

    The balloon made me smile - Khyra had her own issues with mylar balloons - I don't know if you saw it on her blog or not -

    Let me know and I'll send you the link -

    Here's to more awesome times AND pics for us!

  9. The picture of K and R fleeing the nuthatch jumps off the screen like a 3D image! Amazing.
    Congrats on the ridge ride, you will make it to the top very soon, I'm sure.

  10. Wonderful KB- the photos, the video, and the fact that you were able to bike part of the ridge! Sounds as though something could be amiss with your wheels. It's unusual for spokes to snap like that. The before and after Pasque photos are awesome. Take Care!

  11. Thought of you and your stunning views yesterday. A volcano has erupted in Iceland - the most obvious effect is that all airports in the UK,France, Germany et al are closed. The less obvious effect was the dust colouring the sky at sunset. Not red but a deep - blood orange - red that settled in the sky.Do you ever get winds from the East coast? If so it might make your sunsets spectacular in about a weeks time. The last time this happened was the year of the French Revolution.

  12. love the reaction to the balloon...(i wonder how far it traveled)
    the dogs are delighting in the last of the snow (hopefully!)
    wonderful photos!!
    hope your weekend finds some animal tracks!

  13. 2/3's of the way? I think that is very impressive!

    Loved the balloon sequence and saw Phyll already mentioned Khyra's encounter with the balloon. That happened at the same time as my own Rusty's balloon experience and we both laughed hard at our dog's antics.

  14. It's true, K and R do look as if they are jumping right off the screen, even more so when enlarged.
    I can feel their energy and excitement on your excursions. You have a beautiful area to explore.

  15. OK ... A) I think you can have as many Oreos as you want. B) I do love how dog can be so contextual. They know when something, even a tiny thing, is out of place.

  16. Emma Rose: Yes, that second flower is the fully developed form of the first one. Pretty amazing, isn't it?

    AC and Barb, re: the spoke: Thanks for the heads-up and advice. The odd thing is that the other 3 broken spokes were on a different wheel. That wheel probably needs to be replaced. I'm starting to think that it's time to get a new wheelset, as a backup, if nothing else. I just beat my bikes to pieces. The service manager at our local bike shop sees dollar signs when I walk in!

    Angus: The winds are almost always from the west here so I'm guessing that we won't see the Icelandic volcanic ash... unless it travels all the way around the world. The French Revolution... now that really makes it concrete for me.

    Roxanne: I was waiting for permission to eat more Oreos! Thanks!!!!

    Khyra and Thundering Herd: You both made me want to see Khyra's balloon video and Rusty's (if there is one)! I'll email for the link.

  17. Congratulations KB on the first ridge ride! That really is amazing and must feel simply radical. Keep it rolling!


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