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Sunday, April 11, 2010

A springtime ride and hike

I rolled out the door on my mountain bike into SPRING. I turned my face toward the sun and enjoyed the warmth. As I glided down a hill, I noticed our elk herd - fragmented into myriad small groups spread throughout a meadow spotted with Ponderosa Pine trees.
The elk wonder if anyone will brush them? Look how they're shedding!
After turning to climb out of the low meadow, I spotted a glorious sight. A snowy mountain shined through naked aspen trees. In a month, those trees will carry green leaves, obscuring this view. For now, it's a favorite of mine.
After my bike ride, I hiked with my new friend who is tracking-addict like I am. We headed to a nearby area that nary a person visits all year long. We followed a single-file elk track up a north-facing slope, visually scouring the landscape for signs of large mammals. K led us to an uprooted tree that an animal had recently dug around and torn off small pieces. In the photo, notice that the dirt that the animal had dug up was ON TOP of the snow. That's a sure sign that the digging was recent.
Paydirt - most likely, a bear worked over this dead tree trying to find grubs shortly after leaving his den. K stood atop her prize! As an aside, this bear work lay very close to where I saw a yearling bear cub and his mom grazing in mid-May of last year, and then saw the yearling alone digging.
We kept following the elk herd's tracks, over ridges, saddles, and into gullies. As we descended toward a gulch, K again hit high alert. Nose in the air, she accelerated forward. Indeed, she looked too intense so I called her back and leashed her. Soon thereafter, we stumbled upon the remains of a lion kill. The leg and some of the body of an adult elk lay in a pathetically small pile in the dry grass.
And, nearby, we spotted what we believed were the tracks of a mountain lion bounding out of the dark forest, through the snow, and into the meadow. They might have been the tracks from when the lion attacked the elk. The strides seemed impossibly long for how deep the snow was. A powerful animal made these tracks.
Although we knew intellectually that the elk remains and the lion tracks were old, the area felt perfect for lurking lions and a creepy feeling kept overtaking me. Soon, we climbed out of the dark forested draw and headed up toward the relatively sunny and safe forest. Although it was fun to see evidence of a mountain lion's predatory activity, it also sent a chill up my spine.

All in all, it was a wonderful spring day, and I had the pleasure of spending most of it outdoors in the woods. It was my favorite kind of day!


  1. Oh, that last photo is just brilliant. What beautiful white flowers.

    I would love to get my hands on those elk. Well, not really, but I do have a thing about shedding animals. It goes back to my days with the horses, where shedding season seemed to last forever. I actually kind of liked shedding them out - they looked so nice when it was all over.

    You and K look like you had a wonderful day!

  2. These fingers were itching to pluck too!

    More lovely pics from a great day!

  3. Seeing the lion's kill would give me the creeps too.

    Do you think it was our bears who were grubbing the tree?

    Jo and Stella

  4. looks like a perfect day to me too! you and K are quite the tracking team!!

  5. Spring fever abounds!!!
    Sending lots of love and licks!
    Hope you are feeling a lot better! I am sure that the warmer weather will serve to expedite the heaing!

  6. I too had similar finds over the weekend, but mine were a little less spine chilling, but it left me wondering about the deer leg I found, coyotes most likely.
    Enjoyed hiking in the Colorado snow with you!

  7. Great photos as always. Springtime and shedding elks. Everything comes to ....

  8. I love your signs of Spring there. I'm glad you had such an interesting walk! I am glad you didn't get there any earlier, though!

  9. Lion kill: gooseflesh. Glad you pay such close attention to your gut! And to the dogs... - Such beautiful photos, again - and love the last bloomer - wow - that is just gorgeous! So much that you see in your "backyard"!
    Hugs xo
    Sammie and Mom

  10. Oh, a spring day outside! K looks so proud standing on top of that tree. I'm so glad you got to spend most of the day outdoors!

  11. The sun does feel good. I spent some time on Saturday just sitting on a bluff looking over a river, feeling the warmth on my back, and hearing the water rushing over the rocks. Perfection!

  12. Well, thank you for ending with the blooms, KB, so I could bring my heart rate down!

  13. Brush the elk??? If that is how we can get Mom to stop brushing us, we will gladly send her your way:)

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  14. I never cease to be amazed at all the things you find. It does indeed sound like a great day all around.

  15. Holy pawesome adventure.I would like me some of them bones.


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