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Monday, June 14, 2010

Blinded by the light

Early this morning, a bedraggled coyote visited our clearing. Our incessant rain matted down his luxurious coat, showing how small and thin his body is.
When I rolled out on my mountain bike this morning, I dressed for the projected break in the weather. Instead, I received another aerial bombardment of drenching rain. K truly didn't seem to mind. I think that she likes the cool air.

Our world was so gloomy that I needed a flash to take K's photo with the mountains behind her. The raindrops on her fur sparkled in the flash.
K and I have a rapport on the trails that it takes years to build. She almost always hovers nearby and guards me when I get focused on taking photos. However, on one section of trail, it's very important that she stay glued to my side. In past weeks, I started emphatically reminding her to "heel" through that section. Her response was to wander... and then drift around aimlessly when I reminded her yet again to "heel".

Finally, this weekend, I remembered that my trainer once pointed out to me that K gets nervous and becomes incapable of obeying me when I ratchet up my intensity. So, I started acting relaxed through that section of trail and didn't remind K to "heel"- and K stayed glued to my side like she usually does. The moral of the story is that an exquisitely sensitive dog like K will react badly to a tone that sounds like an "order". I don't know why I briefly forgot that lesson except that I get nervous when we're passing through that locale.

Here's my sweet girl as we were in the 'dangerous' zone. I hadn't said a word about heeling but there she was, gazing at me from my side.
After K and I finished our ride, I was so drenched that I put on a complete new set of clothes, including new shoes, with an emphasis on warmth and waterproofness. Just my luck, within 15 minutes after heading back out into the rain, the world was transformed by the clouds lifting and warm sun rays touching our slice of earth. I ended up with a ton of rain gear in my backpack, a load that my spine is still protesting. But, I was literally sweltering inside that clothing once the sun hit me.

The first appearance of the sun, the mountains with fresh snow, and blue sky in days... I was almost blinded by the sunlight!
As I rode, I noticed a deer behaving incredibly oddly. She was very close to me, so close that I could see her ribs protruding from her chest. She needs food. The odd part was that her stare kept shifting from me to something behind me. Here, she stared at me.
Next, she stared over my right shoulder.
I didn't see anything out of the ordinary where she was looking but I guessed that either she had a fawn hidden nearby or a predator lurked in the boulders behind me. Whichever was true, I took it as my cue to exit the scene. One of my scariest animal encounters was when I accidentally scared up a fawn. The mother deer charged me, stopping only when I hoisted my bike over my head to make myself look more imposing. K was with me and stayed glued to my side acting terrified. The mother escorted us, from about 20 yards away, out of the area. It's hard to believe that a doe scared me more than any bear or lion that I've encountered but she did.

Today, I visited a ridge and reveled in the views of flowers and mountains as I continued to overheat in the sun. These are the days of summer when the mountain world moves at a furious pace to fit an entire growing season into a couple of months.
On my way home, I spotted one of the benefits of rain - a columbine almost ready to open! Columbines sing the mountain song more soulfully than any other flower.
Alas, as I arrived home, the world turned dark and angry again, although those mountains that I love so much still stood proud and visible.After I arrived home, I checked the memory cards from Black Bear Trail. Both a bobcat and a bear had traveled through, with the bear using his/her now-familiar method of marking a pine sapling. I wonder how long the bear parade will continue? I believe that it's related to bear breeding season, which I've read goes on for about a month. I plan to plant another camera on this trail with the goal of capturing close-up footage of the "back-scratching" dance!


  1. so fascinating how your anxiety transfers to K....really remarkable lesson in relating to animals....non-verbal communication!
    great video.....the weather is crazy here too, but not as crazy as yours!

  2. it sure is beautiful at your house. Who knows what you will see out there. Mom said Mr. cesar milan tells humans to relax and be calm otherwise we will be nervous too. We like the video
    Benny & Lily

  3. Hi KB, When you look up at those snowy mts, think of me! K is wearing jewels in her coat. I think when you show confidence, K does, too - when she thinks you're nervous, she is, too. She is so in tune with you.Love that Columbine photo!

  4. What makes the "Dangerous" Zone Dangerous?

    Your weather looks a little difficult to manage, a lot like ours at the moment!


    Jo and Stella

  5. Another awesome post!

    I was telling a friend of mine about the bear cam this afternoon - he was impressed with what you've captured!

  6. How exciting! It's a first time for us to see a columbine or a coyote for that matter!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Maxx and family

  7. A lot of times I read about K and she sounds so much like Blueberry. If I correct anybody she goes off to sulk, whether it was her or another dog. I used to catch her in misbehavior all the time, and she was so pathetic, I couldn't even usually be mad!

    I don't blame you about the deer. My dad was a bow and arrow deer hunter for a long time and I've heard a lot of stories about how dangerous they can be. I certainly wouldn't try to make one angry!

    The bear parade is pretty darned interesting to watch! That bobcat cracks me up, too. He just seems like such a pesky little brother as he goes by, just trying to mess with the bears and their mating ritual. I know that's probably not the case, but it always looks like that to me!

  8. When you mentioned your mountains, I thought of our mutual friend Barb!

    I love your adventures and the 'bear-scratching' dance videos!


  9. K has such a piercing expression in the third photo. She seems like such a special girl. I'm glad you mentioned that your trail bond with K has taken years to build. While I love spending time outside with Kona, there are times I wish we were more in sync with each other-it would make navigating the trails easier. But I know we'll get there and am glad that I can learn from you and K.

    Your trails really are exploding with life! It's so fun to see.

  10. Beautiful pictures and beautiful K.
    Love the video of the bobcat and the bear.

  11. Isn't it something how the pups pick up on our emotions? Happens on so many levels too.

    It appears you had all those torrents of rain that we have seen lately too. And yet you still get out and ride!

    Poor deer - hope she can find some food soon.

  12. Absolutely love the columbine photo.

    I'd often thought animals can sense our nervousness, so it was great to read about how K responds when you "rachet down." So cool the way you two are so in tune with each other. Like soulmates...


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