I joyfully started my day with a short bike ride on our dirt roads. I'm going to be riding only roads until the snow clears the trails this year. As my longtime readers know, I have fabulous Fatback snow bike. However, it would be foolish for me to risk riding on snow while my neck heals. The biggest downside is that K can't ride with me on the roads. The trails will melt out soon enough.
I started my ride next to a sunny meadow. Myriad signs of spring stopped me in my tracks. Red-winged blackbirds called all around me. I finally spotted one in a willow bush. These common birds spend only the late spring and summer at our high elevation. It's earlier than they usually arrive but I won't complain!
A little further east in the meadow, I spotted two pairs of mountain bluebirds (although the photo shows only three birds). They perched atop swaying bush branches and burst into flight after I took one photo. The male's brilliant blue plumage stood out against the gray skies.
Indeed, although signs of spring abounded, a storm approached with the clouds oozing unstoppably up the canyons from the plains. Perhaps this storm was the reason that I saw a massive flock of Canada geese flying SOUTH today. I wanted to flag them down and point them in the right direction!
I glimpsed a slice of one snowy mountain all day long. In the photo below, a snowy peak barely shined through just above the forested hills. Higher, a curtain of clouds obscured it. Our elk herd loves the meadow and pond in the foreground. I hope to see them basking there soon.
After returning from my ride, I took only K, and not R, for a hike. R split a nail a few weeks ago but it started hurting again recently. We learned that he had chipped a bone further up that toe and also has a bone infection creeping up from the crack in his nail into the toe bone. Hopefully, antibiotics will stop the bone infection. Otherwise, amputating the end of his toe will be necessary. Apparently, it's unlikely that he'll need amputation but that word freaks me out. In any case, he took it easy today. The big thing that I learned is that most vets will advise prophylactic antibiotics for a badly cracked nail like his because serious bone infections are a frequent complication. I had no idea.
I showered K with attention on our hike. She's a sensitive soul and gets subdued when the two of us don't get hiking or biking time alone. She also gets scared if I have to use a firm tone with R during a hike, and that happened frequently yesterday. Today, she seemed to beam with mellow happiness. She loves playing with R but she also loves having quiet time on her own with me.
We truly wandered, with nary a goal. We followed her nose across a meadow and found a spot where a coyote had made the snow crust collapse. His tracks trampled the area around the hole in the snow, and I wonder if he caught a rodent there, like the coyote who I watched yesterday.
Then, we followed the path of melted snow where dirt showed through, wanting to take a break from the endless slogging through deep snow that we've done over the past week. K found a lookout toward the Divide but the mountains had vanished behind the clouds. She still savored the scents.
As we moved at a relaxed pace along a ridge of boulders, we stopped frequently to scan our world and snuggle together. In this photo, I think that she's wondering when KB is going to stop hugging her! Sorry, girl, but the answer is NEVER.
Finally, just before we descended toward home, K struck one of her trademark dramatic poses high on a boulder.
Once I was home, I wrestled more with iMovie and put together another montage of photos of the bears outside their den, a continuation of yesterday's video. It's a short clip, showing the two cubs playing wildly (there will be several more clips in coming days). Then, mom comes out and appears to exert her authority to calm them. However, just when it looks like the cubs might become mellow, the two cubs jump onto mom, and get her to wrestle with them. I never thought that I'd get to see the intimate interactions in a bear family like these photos show. You'll notice that there's no video included - after the first bout of playing, the cubs filled the memory card on the camera that I had set to record video. I'm so glad that I had multiple cameras on the scene!