Reminders never hurt. I was slammed with a reminder yesterday not to waste any days of my life. I strive, every single day, to remember what I love to do and make some time for it. Yesterday, I learned of the death of a neighbor - a fellow mountain person - although one with dramatically different values from mine. Despite our differences, it served as a reminder to me to seize each day.
For me, being in nature with my dogs is something that wakes me up and makes me feel fully alive. Over the past two days, K and I have had adventures following animal tracks in our forests as the fury of winter has interrupted the brief sojourns of spring. R, although his injured toe is slowly healing, has been taking it easy and snoozing during our hikes.
Two days ago, K and I followed animal tracks down a gulch so choked with snow, fallen trees, and boulders that I thought that we might get stuck there forever. K seemed to say, "Are we really going down there?".
In the photo below, K tried to negotiate a fallen tree in the gulch but it's very hard to generate a powerful jump from bottomless snow. Eventually, I coaxed her around it.
We found mountain lion tracks, albeit only a few, as we explored. They were days old so the lion probably is long gone. However, I set up a camera on his route, next to one of his habitual scent posts, hoping to capture his image.
Also during yesterday's hike, we spotted our very first wildflower of the season, a candytuft (Noccaea montana). It's a tiny gem, with each flower spreading only 1 cm across. It poked up out of a small patch of bare dirt.
Since I saw that flower, the fury of mountain weather has descended upon us. About 10 minutes after the flower sighting, the wind drove snowflakes horizontally around us.
Then, another five minutes later, the sun shined again. K could see her shadow. I wonder what that means for when springtime will arrive in the Rockies?
Overnight and this morning, the snow became persistent, adding another 6" to our already admirable base. Fortunately, the base of several feet was frozen solid this morning, and K barely sunk into the snow as she romped across it.
Due to the rock solid snowpack today, we veered away from trails and hiked through deep forests, following animal tracks of unknown origin. It had snowed so recently that fresh fluffy powder filled the tracks - but it's always fun to let a wild animal determine our route. K found a rare sunny spot in the deep forest. It looked enchanted with the snow draping the pine boughs and the golden-hued sunshine.
K's fur glowed in the sunlight.
We emerged from the forest near a peak, and K led the way to the top. Storm clouds enveloped the mountains behind her.
After I arrived home from my hike, I decided that, despite the "mud-fest" conditions on our dirt road, I needed a hard ride to burn off the blues that had threatened to drag me down since learning of my neighbor's death. I think that other endurance junkies probably understand the cleansing effects of a tough aerobic effort. Of course, as I rolled out the driveway through viscous mud, a snow squall started. So, as I rode, I was doused in mud from below and pelted with snow from above. I smiled and pedaled harder. Truly experiencing nature's fury as I work my muscles to their maximum is one of the things that I love the most!
I also love our wildlife, and I'll get back to my bear footage tomorrow. Here's a sample of one of the photos to come. It shows that one yearling outweighs the other by a lot! I suspect that we have a male and female, which is great news because the female will probably settle down in our area after she leaves her mom this summer. By contrast, the male will travel endless miles searching for his own territory.