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Monday, May 3, 2010

Outside my back door...

I have to admit it. I felt weary and sorry for myself yesterday. I've fought so hard to get my neck strong and my lumbar spine was rebelling.

Fortunately, I have paradise outside my back door. I sometimes whine about May snow or other insignificant annoyances. However, deep down, I know that those things aren't important. What matters is that I can walk out my door and have an experience like yesterday evening.

From the very first steps, I could tell that the forest was stirring with animals, and that my dogs weren't going to be allowed off-leash. Their voltage levels were scorching as they excitedly sniffed the air. Even during a sit-stay, they swiveled their heads with urgency and in synchrony.
As we walked along a rocky hogback, fresh snow carpeted the shaded ground. I saw that, purely by accident, we were in the tracks of a bobcat who had walked the same knife's edge within the hour. Based on his route, I have a good idea of which wall of boulders he'd hidden in during the day. He used a direct-registering walk, meaning that his hind paws fell into the imprints of his front paws. Consequently, the track looks longer than an individual track actually is.
When we reached the western end of the ridge, the sun glowed with a rosy radiance, shading the eastern horizon and clouds with gold.
The sun's rays caressed K's fur, highlighting the reddish tint.
As we descended toward home, I discovered another reason for the dogs' insane excitement. I spotted tracks of two elk galloping at top speed away from the mountain lion's favorite hang-out. The pair had plowed right through a minefield of boulders and then plunged into a gully, descending through the maze of debris littering the ground. Something had severely scared them. I didn't see lion tracks but I didn't scrutinize the area like I would have if my back hadn't been hurting.
Since I needed to curtail my hiking, we soon veered away from the elk's panicked tracks and returned to our homeward bound route. Although I'd limped through our hike, I realized that my lower back and leg were better than the day before - so perhaps the pain will recede on its own. Regardless, the flurry of animal activity in our forest intrigued me so much that I forgot about my back for a sweet respite.

As the sun set, the clouds shrouded the mountains in mystery. I gave thanks for having this world outside my back door.
This morning, the Labraduo led me out for a mountain bike ride with R leading through a pine forest. The green pine trees and ground cover looked picture-perfect with the deep blue sky.
He led us up to small ridge where the snowy mountains, fluffy clouds, and buffeting wind reminded us that we live up high! The sky seemed so bright that I had to smile!
Thank goodness - the wildlife that had the dogs in a frenzy last night had retired to their day beds, and the dogs behaved like a pair of saints. On a bike, leashing them is not an option so good off-leash behavior is required!
After riding hard to try to keep up with the Duo, I dropped them at home and rolled further afield. I can't take the Duo anywhere that involves crossing a road so our options are currently limited with so many trails covered in deep snow.

After crossing the main road, I found the bobcat's tracks again. I think that he passed this way last night, after we saw his tracks closer to home but heading in this direction. For one step, the feisty cat's hind paw overstepped his front paw so that I could see each track separately. I wonder how far he or she walked last night? The tracks veered off into a south-facing slope with no snow so I lost them.
Near the end of my ride, I spotted a faction of the elk herd in a meadow whose grass had hints of green. You can see it in the lower right corner of the photo. We mountain-folks will take any tiny sign of spring as a big deal this year!
Then, I spotted the rest of the herd on the other side of the road, blatantly ignoring a "NO Trespassing" sign posted directly in front of a house. Those signs prevent any neighbors from visiting but the elk can't read! In fact, they'd clomped up onto the porch, making themselves at home. I laughed and laughed.
I finished my ride with another awe-inspiring view of our mountains. The mountains do truly inspire me to get out my back door every single day!


  1. You got some great photos. The one of the elk's trespassing is pretty funny. I wonder if it was recently built as the deer around here did the same thing to a new house and even left some "presents" on the front porch. I really the ones of the dogs looking this way and that too. Hope your back feels better soon.

  2. Fingers and paws crossed here that your back problems resolve. The elk on the porch is priceless!

  3. you certainly live in a majestic area!! we all need to see the beauty in our own domains! but, yours takes the prize!
    great pics of the duo and the tracks!!

  4. It really is a gift to walk out your back door into your forest. I'm glad you're able to get out and enjoy it everyday. Fingers and paws crossed here to for less back pain.

    I like that the elk haven't fallen to the idea of land ownership.

    I really like your idea for feeding Kona at the end of our runs. Never even considered that, but seems like it's worth a try!

  5. You have great pictures and stories as always! That shot of the elk ignorning the No Trespassing sign is classic, though!

    I have a labrador question for you. It was something that came up in class tonight, and I wasn't quite sure how true it might be. Someone with a chocolate lab said it takes them a lot longer to learn things. I could see the point, I suppose, with recessive genes, but then I see some chocolate labs like K who seem to be pretty intelligent examples. How much truth is there to it? I know that people also say that blue greyhounds are particularly quirky, and from what I've found, Blueberry is an exception to that rule. Almost nobody else I've met with one agrees that they're pretty much like other greyhounds. So, how likely are chocolate labs to be a bit nutty? Just curious! I figured you would know!

  6. You do have grand views and exciting walks KB...

  7. I enjoyed the entire post but the trespassing elks won!

  8. What must your zoning laws be like? Can you still get permits to build in your little bit of heaven? What would you do if you found alarge herd of elks on your front porch?

  9. Our deer haven't been on the front porch yet, but they treat all my new flowers in the yard like their salad bar.
    I love the photo of "Kate."
    Hugs to the Labraduo, take care of yourself,

  10. Oh those elks made me laugh out loud. Wonder if they ventured inside for a look around:)

  11. When you ache, I ache for you because I know all too well how it feels inside to be kept from something you love because something hurts. And I think we all miss your enthusiasm and vigor when you are limited.

    I hope and pray the pain does go away soon and that you are able to avoid surgery for as long as possible.

  12. Houndstooth: Some people say that chocolate labs are more excitable and less trainable than black or yellows. But, it seems that this notion is being debunked. Chocolates are now winning field trials and other training type competitions at a reasonable rate. Moreover, my personal experience doesn't support the idea either. K (chocolate lab) is quite calm compared to R (black lab) but there is an age difference to consider.

  13. Angus,

    The zoning laws are incredibly restrictive. No property can be subdivided into anything less than a 30 acre lot.

    Usually, elk don't come onto porches, except for deserted houses. The house that you see hasn't been occupied in a little while so the elk are taking over!

    We did wake up one morning to find the 100-strong herd surrounding our house. We all stayed inside until they decided to mosey on. Fortunately, that wasn't a long time because the dogs had to "go"!

  14. Everyone: I agree that the elk on the porch take the cake as the funniest photo - especially given that there are about 10 "No trespassing" signs surrounding the house!

  15. I love that elk on the porch photo, too, KB - its irony gave me a chuckle! Glad you could ride.


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