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Tuesday, August 31, 2010


No doubt, autumn is overtaking our world. This morning, I had my first sunrise breakfast since springtime. It's not that my breakfast has inched earlier - rather, sunrise is getting late.
As I drank my coffee with the sky afire, the coyote pack started howling. K ran to the deck railing in alarm. Our coyote pack currently sounds like it has 20 members howling and yipping together. But, I know that their voices are deceptive - I've seen three coyotes singing but they've sounded like at least a dozen. I hope that I get to see the pack sometime soon to get an idea of how big it is!
Then, K and I headed out for a ride with K in a close heel to prevent any coyote tricksters from luring her into a dangerous chase. A dog owner recently told me that she thought that we needed to "cull" the coyote pack. They'd tried to take one of her small dogs by using their patented technique of having one playful-looking coyote lure the dog into the woods where the rest of the coyote pack is waiting. While I certainly understood how upset and fearful she felt after nearly losing one of her dogs, I didn't agree with her "solution". I think that I talked her down to a more reasonable stance... but I'm shocked by how quickly humans turn to killing wildlife as a solution rather than learning to keep their dogs safe. Yes, I know that means that you can't safely "let your dogs out" to roam without supervision. But, that's a small price to pay for the diversity of wildlife that we have here.

This morning, despite my screaming spine, we headed up high to play in the brief flashes of sunshine through the clouds jetting overhead. K gave me a sly look.
We posed together at the top. I finally realized that K has NO motivation to look at a camera propped on a rock. That's why she always looks at me in these photos! My mouth is always open as I smile because I'm telling her to look at the camera. Maybe looking at the camera is a trick that I could teach her.
K has recently resumed an old game - she hides so that I'll call her. Because recalls are SO fun, she tries to force me to call her by disappearing into the brush. Her hiding place in the photo below was not one of her most challenging!
I try to find other ways to draw her out to avoid encouraging her hiding game. If I do a recall, it's the biggest reward that I could possibly give her for hiding. However, as I stand in the forest alone trying to cajole K out of hiding, I get visions of the photographs that I've captured of our mighty predators near our trails and give into the urge to call!

As we rode, we spotted a weathered butterfly on his last wings. I think that he was a Black Swallowtail.
I lifted the aging beauty onto a fading blossom before leaving him in peace. Most butterflies live such brief lives, weeks at most. Whenever I see one fluttering next to me on my bike, I think that they're so courageous, living so beautifully but so briefly.
I think that there's a lesson in a butterfly's life for me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Explorations and K's deceptive behavior

I've been exploring, exploring, and exploring in the forest that sits between me and the mountains in the photo above. It's now obvious to me exactly how lucky my wildlife finds of the past year were. Since the start of 2010, I've stumbled on two mountain lion fresh kills, found an occupied bear den, and then, completely by chance, pointed a wildlife camera at a bear marking tree during the ursine mating season. Moreover, I discovered that the wildlife corridor where my bear camera stood guard actually had dozens of pine saplings mauled by marauding bears ready to mate. Now that I'm trying to make finds like those ones, I'm having little luck. If you want to see some of the footage from my lucky finds of the past year, check out the right side bar where I have a list of links to my "Wildlife photos/videos".

I feel certain that the long line of bear marking trees spread over 5 miles in our forest that I discovered this summer is not the only path that our bears mark during mating season. My goal is to find the other paths that are lined with their marking trees. This goal has led to some very interesting hikes, through land rarely visited by humans, but has not uncovered any "hot spots" like the one that I accidentally found this summer. The Duo don't care - they've been having a blast! They stay on leash in these sensitive areas, and if we find a "hot spot", I never take them to it again for fear of scaring off the wildlife.

Actually, the dogs are some help in identifying "hot spots". Often, they signal that interesting animals have been around, like in this photo of them both staring into the same section of forest.
Both dogs have also had ample raspberry foraging time during our explorations. They are wild about raspberries! R didn't discover raspberries until he watched his sister eating them this summer. He even emulates her very delicate method of removing the berries from the bushes.
Yesterday evening, K and I went exploring. We found an exquisite flower that I've never seen before and cannot find in any of my wildflower books. Do any of you recognize it?
We also found a bear scratching tree, gouged deeply by a large pawed bear reaching just as high as a tall bear can reach. However, no other bear trees stood in the vicinity.
Then, as we relaxed at home yesterday evening, devious K pulled a trick that she's mastered. When her brother R settles into a comfortable spot that she wants, usually a prime snuggling position, K stares out a window and barks ferociously like we're being attacked by aliens. R always streaks to the window while barking wildly to protect us while K makes a beeline to his former position without another glance toward the window. It is absolutely obvious that she never thought that there was a threat lurking outside the window. Rather, she played a trick on her gullible younger brother to steal his prime position. I wonder when R will stop believing her alarm barks?

It seems to me that a behavior like K's shows that dogs can plan ahead and even behave deceptively to get what they want, assertions that animal behavior specialists might question. However, I don't see any other explanation.

This morning, K and I rolled out into a cool late summer morning. From her first steps, I could tell that K felt fabulous and euphorically happy. In contrast, I felt tired and ready to go back to bed. However, I was so happy to see K bursting with energy that it lifted my spirits. She had a long subdued phase while she was taking very strong antibiotics for a recurrent urinary track infection, and I kept worrying that something big was going wrong inside her. After those worries, watching her zoom around is a joy!

We visited our favorite (and only) arch near our house where K zoomed straight to the most dramatic perch.
Then, we sat side-by-side in the sun with me running my fingers through her sun-warmed fur. My time with her each day makes me very happy.
After our relaxed time near the arch, we turned toward home, retracing our path. However, K acted as if a scary animal had used the trail between our two passings. On the way home, she suddenly started snarling and sprinting with her nose on the ground. I called her back but she wouldn't even look at me for long enough to take a treat. Something downhill of us had her spooked. This scarily protective behavior is reserved by K for bears and mountain lions. When we encounter other animals or their scent, she acts interested in chasing but not at all protective. So, I'm pretty sure that one of our largest carnivores had just used the trail.

How I love living in such a wild place! I just saw a sweatshirt that says "Keep the woods bearable" - with a picture of a mother bear and a cub. I second that thought!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Canines, wild and domestic!

Our local coyote pack seems to have grown substantially since their pups were born in the spring. Yesterday afternoon, they yipped and serenaded from very nearby, sending my dogs into a tizzy. R did his best imitation of a coyote, howling with abandon.

Yesterday, I had a funny coyote interaction. I was sneaking across a road on trail known almost only by locals. I didn't want anyone in a car to see me so I could avoid advertising the trail. So, I waited until I didn't hear any cars and sprinted to cross the road. To my amusement, a coyote was employing exactly the same strategy from the other side of the road. He and I sprinted past each other. He barely gave me a second glance in his hurry to make into the hidden safety of the forest that I'd just left. I chuckled - I act more like a coyote than I might have guessed!

On our evening hike yesterday, we headed out early and both dogs were leashed to avoid coyote interactions. However, we had the pleasure of running into some former neighbors on the trails... and stood around talking for more than an hour. Consequently, the Labraduo and I finished our hike in rapidly darkening twilight.
This morning, the Duo and I headed out for a mountain bike ride early. They sprinted ahead enthusiastically in the cool morning air.
We started on a west-facing slope, following a thin dirt path through pines and aspens. Within this past week, that slope has not yet been sunny on my morning rides because the sun is arcing lower and lower in the sky. While on that trail, K did a recall, galloping wildly around a curve, on the trail.
Later, we emerged from the shade and found a lookout point for a rest and photo.
To the west, we saw the moon dipping toward the almost snow-free mountains. Their snowy cloaks will return soon!
After dropping the Duo off at home, I headed toward the hillside where my stolen wildlife cameras formerly stood. I was frustrated to see all sorts of animal signs, indicating that I would have captured great footage this week if I still had those cameras. In front of where one of my stolen cameras had been, a bear had deposited a scat. In front of the other former camera site, a mountain lion had scraped the ground with his hind paws, leaving a scent post announcing that this was his territory. In the photo below, the cat had faced toward the bottom of the frame and kicked the dirt toward the top of the frame.
After lamenting all the great wildlife action that I'd missed due to thievery, I managed to put it out of my head and enjoy my ride. However, during my ride, I kept stopping to search for hidden sites for my trail cameras. No doubt, that area attracts our most exciting animals.

I passed what I think was a crab apple tree still hanging onto its fruit - it was in a clearing that probably once harbored a mining cabin. I'm surprised that the animals haven't eaten the apples yet.
Then, as I rolled downhill, I spotted what I thought was a big boulder in the trail. In fact, it was the biggest puffball mushroom that I've ever seen, a testament to our moist summer. It was the size of a bowling ball.
Then, I spotted a sign that I didn't want to see yet - the first yellowing aspens. Summer is so fleeting at this elevation!
When I saw the aspens with a yellow tinge, I thought that I was near the end of my ride, laboring up a steep forest road toward home. However, ahead of me, I heard gunshots start blasting from the thick forest. They were regularly spaced, like the sound of a person target shooting. I stopped to contemplate the safest move. I know that 98% of shooters are diligent about safety, and, in all likelihood, I could pass on the forest road without worries. However, the other 2% scare me to death - shooting along roads, across roads, and without backdrops. I stood silently pondering my decision because riding past the shooter would be a 10 minute ride home and reversing my route would be an hour ride home. Finally, I reluctantly turned around. It just wasn't worth the risk to save 50 minutes. On the bright side, I got more of a workout than I'd bargained for!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sweet spot in time and a mule deer buck

A few days ago, I showed a photo of the view from a spectacular campsite on our trip.The ever inquisitive Angus asked about the genesis of the pinnacle near the middle of the photo. I wondered about it many times while we relaxed in camp but then forgot to read about it when I returned home. Now, I know that Angus's guess was correct. It's a volcanic plug of magma that hardened within the vent of an active volcano millions of years ago. Due to a volcanic plug, pressure can build to explosive levels within an active volcano leading to an eruption. In this case, the volcano became quiet underneath the plug, and the volcanic plug was more resistant to erosion than the surrounding rock. As a result, the plug wasn't worn away by wind and water while the surrounding mountain was. We can see the remnant of the volcanic plug in the form of a pinnacle. It is called Lizard Head Peak. Thanks to Angus for reminding me to learn about it!

Yesterday, I mentioned that K had rubbed her nose slightly raw on her muzzle that she's been wearing to prevent 'shrooming during our mountain bike rides. Well, at the suggestion of Houndstooth, I tried to superglue soft material inside her muzzle last night. However, in my stupor of fatigue, I managed to pour super glue all over my fingers and none where it needed to go. I cleaned my fingers but gave up on the muzzle for the night. So, this morning, K ran along side my mountain bike naked - no muzzle! She was overjoyed!
Moreover, she didn't revert to her mushroom-eating habit. She stayed close by my side and focused on me.
We both had a romping good time! Maybe I don't need to muzzle her every day. She's hoping for that outcome!

Later in my ride, with K resting at home, I climbed a ridge for a dramatic view of the building storms on the Continental Divide.
On the ridge spine, I gazed at my favorite purple and yellow aster, the flower that truly means that autumn is nipping at our heels, poking up from the midst of prickly currant berries. I'm surprised by how many currants and raspberries remain for the bears to feast on. Bears, deer, and ravens ate every last Buffalo Berry within 2 weeks of ripening but haven't eaten the other berries so fast.
I also noticed the yellow flowers that dominate the ridge right now. They looked fluorescent against the dark sky.
Later in my ride, I had an amazing moment during a technical rocky descent - the kind of downhill where I've crashed many times in my life. This time, the world suddenly ground into slow motion. I could see every obstacle and felt like I had heaps of time to respond. I slithered through the loose rocks like they weren't there. What a surreal sweet spot in time.
On a final note, yesterday I noticed a series of mountain lion scrapes near one of my trail cameras but didn't get any footage of a lion. "Scrapes" are made by lions when they kick the dirt backward with their hind feet, much like an an alpha dog. The scrapes are overwhelmingly larger than those left by a dog - and almost unmistakable once you've seen one.

Although I didn't get footage of a lion, I did get two consecutive nights of trail camera footage of a mule deer buck. On the first night, I don't see any sign of injury but, on the second night, it looks as if he has a slash on his hind leg. I wonder if he barely escaped that lion?

Also, notice that this young buck looks "ready" for the rut!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Muzzles and bear trees

I discovered part of why K dislikes her muzzle so much. It's rubbing the top of her nose raw. I need to do something about that! During our mountain bike ride today, I took off her muzzle for some fun recall practice. See, she can look like a happy dog, even though she's sometimes forced to wear a blue muzzle!
K agrees with the commenters that she'd prefer a brown muzzle but we couldn't find one for sale anywhere! Actually, K would prefer no muzzle at all but that's not an option right now. I'll have to pad her existing one to protect her nose.

The world is sliding into autumn here in the mountains. The gentians, our latest blooming flower, are in full cry.
The very last columbine is blooming in my garden. It's beginning to wilt so its days are numbered but I'll enjoy it while it's here. It provides a lesson about enjoying the moment rather than anticipating the future.
The ground foliage has morphed to a golden color. Yellow and purple flowers are still blossoming. Butterflies are going wild, fluttering around the remaining flowers and chasing me on my bike. Grasshoppers fly out of the wildflowers like popcorn. Everyone is seizing the end of summer, including me!
Some leaves have even turned red. The first frost must be almost here.
I have an admission to make - I've been obsessed with finding "bear trees" over the past week because my stolen cameras were next to the best bear trees that I know of in the area (so I can't post cameras there again anytime soon). I read a new book that has great photos of the different kinds of markings that bears leave on trees. Those trees then serve as scent posts that other passing bears will check. So, I've been in the forest trying to find trees with those distinctive markings so that I can point trail cameras at them.

Two days ago, I had an amusing mishap while looking for a bear tree, although it wasn't funny at the time because I was on a trail that no one else EVER uses. I spotted a potential bear tree from a distance. It was off the trail so I hopped off my bike and started walking briskly toward it. My eyes were so focused on my quarry that I failed to notice an uprooted stump from a humongous tree lying in my path. I plowed directly into it, and one of its hardened roots slammed my thigh like a truck hitting me. I dropped to one knee to recover from the shocking blow, and my vision started to go black from the periphery. I knew, from experience, that I was about to pass out (from the pain - not because it was terrible but because it was so unexpected).

So, I lowered myself until I was lying the ground to avoid falling. Only people from my area will understand that, as I lay down in a fog, I was also fervently hoping that a mountain lion wasn't watching me. Fortunately, I recovered rapidly, never fully fainting, and no lions moved in for a meal. I was left with a deep muscle bruise and some gashes ("just flesh wounds" according to one sympathetic person).

To top it all off, I found that the potential bear tree wasn't a bear tree at all. However, on other explorations, I have found several definite bear trees. In the photo below, the bark has been recently stripped from a bear tree and a long black bear hairs are embedded in the fresh sap. I believe that the bear stripped the bark with his teeth but I'm not absolutely certain. I need some trail camera video of my own, don't you think?
Another has a maze of bear claw marks all over it.
I'm excited to get a new camera pointed at one of these trees but the bears will go to sleep soon, probably within a month or so. They'll start slowing down first, walking as if in a daze, traveling little, and eating almost nothing. Eventually, they'll retire to a dark cave... hopefully, the same one that the sow and yearlings used for hibernation last winter. I assume that my camera posted at that den was not stolen but I refuse to disturb the bears by going to check on it.

It'll be exciting when I can finally check that den camera on our first sub-zero day of winter!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Canine mushroom addicts and trail cameras

Since returning from our trip, I've been having a blast mountain biking through the late summer wonderland near our house with my Labraduo. I mentioned a little while ago that R has been wearing a muzzle to stop him from eating mushrooms. I also confidently asserted that K no longer needed a muzzle - she'd beaten her mushroom addiction.
I was wrong. Two days ago, K started lurking behind me on the trails during mountain bike rides. Due to my fused neck, I could no longer take a quick glance behind me to find out what she was doing. After many quick stops and turning my entire body to try to catch her in the act, I did see her eating something off the ground. So, the poor girl wore a muzzle this morning. Although she's worn a muzzle before, she initially pretended that she was unable to run while wearing it. She sat planted by the house, refusing to join me for a mountain bike ride. I went back and cajoled her into a ride but she acted pretty subdued due to the muzzle. Eventually, she relaxed a bit, at least long enough for this photo.
Later in the ride, we met another mountain biker, a visitor to the area. He loved K and played with her for a few minutes while we chatted. As I tried to ride away from him, K refused to leave his side. I believe that she'd decided that he was nicer than me! After all, I'm the one who tortured her by putting on the muzzle. If only she could understand that I did it because I love her...

In the evenings, I've been exploring deep in our forests for perfect trail camera locations. As I mentioned the other day, I placed one of my remaining cameras in a secluded spot. It sits atop a ridge where two animal trails intersect. One is a trail that crosses the ridge from one hillside to another. Based on tracks, I guessed that deer and elk are the primary users of that trail. My camera footage supports that idea so far. Specifically, Mule Deer does with very cautious fawns seem to use the trail.

The intersecting animal trail follows the spine of the ridge from left to right across the camera view. In winter snow, I've tracked cats, both bobcats and mountain lions, following the ridge trail. I've worked hard at placing my camera so that it'll capture footage of animals on both of the intersecting trails. As an added bonus, bears clearly hang out nearby. Trees are scarred with claw marks, berry-filled scats abound, and many stumps have been excavated. So, there's also a chance that we'll get to see a bear on this forested ridge in the short remaining time before they start hibernating. I hope so! I'm very excited to see what we find!

On the wildlife photography front, I'm super happy to say that I have my very first sponsor who is advertising here, a trail camera company called Just so you know, I approached them about being a visible sponsor on my blog as I tried to figure out how to deal with the theft of two valuable cameras.

I've bought a number of cameras from them over the years, and I think that their customer service is the absolute best. They're available to give advice over the phone, and everyone I've spoken with there is an expert on wildlife photography with trail cameras. Also, they rigorously test all the camera models that they sell, and their tests have helped me choose the best trail camera models for my purposes. Their website is full of great information for any of you who might be considering buying a trail camera.

My conversations with the staff at over the past few days have proven a point that you all emphasized when I was so demoralized by the theft of my cameras. You all reassured me that most people are good-hearted, generous, and trustworthy. It seems that you are right. Thanks to all of you for convincing me that I shouldn't give up on my passion for capturing photos of our elusive wildlife.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Amazing ride with K on top of the world

The mountain view with endless blue skies behind it re-emerged at dawn the next day on our trip high in the San Juan Mountains. This view from our campsite is one that I'll store away for when I need an uplifting vision in the depths of the coming winter.
After eating breakfast while gazing at the view, K and I set out to have a frolicking good day above treeline with me on my mountain bike and K galloping easily next to me! We stopped for a break on the tundra.
We followed a buttery smooth trail that followed the undulating contours of the mountain beautifully with just a few steep climbs like this one.
I was crawling so slowly up this pitch that I noticed glorious flowers. Asters, gems that always remind us of our wonderful dog, Astro (his photo is in the sidebar). This hillside seemed like a memorial to him!
We rolled along, feeling carefree and happy. We reached our turn-around point, high on a red rock pass.
We met friends on the pass, hikers doing the entire Colorado Trail with their two dogs. Those dogs wore big packs. As they approached, K freaked out because their silhouettes didn't look like dogs. Once they were close, K realized that they were canines and everyone became friends. One of the dogs hung out with K on the pass.
After enjoying the views from the pass, we headed toward camp. As we neared our campsite, we came to a high mountain lake - woo hoo!
K, a Labrador to the heart, joyously retrieved sticks from the lake.
And shook off the water (I'm showing this photo despite her protests)!
Then, we made a beeline for camp, for another day of basking in paradise. It was our last day in this spectacular spot so we savored it. Carpe Diem!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A victory and a journey

I want to use this post to tell you more about our trip to the San Juan Mountains. However, first, I want to share a small victory. Prior to the theft of my trail cameras last weekend, I caught hints that something fishy was going on in that section of forest - perhaps even criminal activity. Consequently, I removed one camera, and it wasn't stolen. In retrospect, I should have moved all my cameras but the area is where lions and bears like to hang out. I didn't want to miss any wildlife action so I ended up losing two cameras - a lesson learned the hard way.

Here's the victory part. When I moved the one camera, I took it to the deepest and secretest part of our forest where I'd noticed a well-worn animal trail previously. Believe me, *no one* will find my camera in the new spot. In a single day, I captured photos of a mule deer doe with one spotted fawn, and another one with spotted fawn twins. Wow - that's the fastest that I've ever had success at a new camera site! I'll share the footage as soon as I have time to put together a video. I'm very curious to see how long it will be until mountain lion or bear passes the camera. Scat, tracks, and other signs indicate that both pass through at least occasionally.

So, my spirits are resurrected. I may not have many cameras but I'm doing pretty well with what remains. I also didn't lose my cameras close to the house - criminals are smart enough not to use power tools to cut locks within hearing distance of a house. Last night, a camera captured a coyote trotting away from my house - a canine on a mission.
Now, I'll transition to a story from our San Juan Mountain vacation.

Partway through our recent trip, I did a long solo journey on my mountain bike to meet the pack at a faraway and remote campsite. With some trepidation, I set out under endless blue skies, warm air, and soft sun. At the outset, I felt some fear, like I always do when I'm heading out into the lonesome wilderness with many miles between me and help. This fear is fairly new for me - it emerged after doctors started warning me about how easily I could hurt my spine. Yet, I refuse to give up the adventures that I love so much.

As I felt those tiny butterflies in my stomach, I pondered why I take on these adventures. I concluded that I love finding my limits, both physically and mentally. It's an amazing feeling to be in the middle of nowhere, having seen no one for hours, and be successfully negotiating tough mountainous trails. I also like defying the odds. Doing these rides despite my fragile spine makes me feel like my disease hasn't stolen everything. "Defy" is one of my favorite words.

On that day, my path was longer than expected but easily within my capabilities because I've trained hard this year. After about an hour of riding, I looked over my shoulder at the miles that I'd traveled. My trail had paralleled the rusty and rocky ridge, just above the trees, for many miles.
Then, I looked forward and saw that the trail dropped into a mountain paradise - a lush basin filled with wildflowers. Scarlet Paintbrush gave the grass a rosy hue.The pencil-thin trail headed out of the basin and toward open tundra.
A symphony of colors met me as I pedaled out of the basin.
On the open tundra, I met a glossy-furred marmot named Marvin who seemed completely at ease with having me just a few feet away. He watched me but basked in the sun at the same time.
I stood next to his boulder for a few minutes enjoying the endless view of mountain peaks and thinking about how many future adventures beckoned from the mountains surrounding me. I looked back at the boulder, and Marvin still lay relaxed in the same spot. Maybe he liked the view too!
After crossing the tundra and an almost 13,000' mountain pass, I descended into a deep and dark forest winding around raging creeks tumbling out of the mountains above me. The water roiled and fell with a ferocity that's rare for so late in the summer.
Another waterfall gushed less vigorously among what looked almost like cobblestone cliffs with many layers of the Earth's history exposed for me to see.
Between the rushing creeks, I navigated below huge cliffs with glorious wildflowers adorning them.
This section was mildly spooky because so many rocks and cliffs towered over me. My imagination conjured lions poised to pounce on me from above. Moreover, the riding was tough with many "rock gardens" poised to bounce me off my bike. However, I was at least 10 miles from civilization and enjoying the utter solitude. Occasionally, I glimpsed an expansive view through a gap in the suffocating cliffs.
After several hours on the trail, I began to realize that the ride was taking far longer than I'd anticipated. I mentally whipped myself, wondering why I was so darn slow. I decided to take no more photo stops and pedal steadily toward camp. I looked at my GPS - although the route description said it would involve 3000' of climbing, I'd already climbed 4000'. Huh? I had brief visions of my day lost in the San Juan's last year before banishing them from my head. I knew that I was on the right route.

I kept pedaling and actually caught and passed a trio of guys riding the same route, the first people that I'd seen in several hours. We chatted and they expressed surprise about how hard the ride was. It had already taken them an hour longer than expected. We commiserated and continued at our own paces. To my utter surprise, my pace was faster than theirs. I kept listening for them to ride up to my wheel from behind but it didn't happen. I guess that I'm stronger than I thought that I was.

Just about then, I rounded a curve and caught my first glimpse of a view that I knew signaled that I was closing in on our campsite.
When I finally rolled into our remote camp, I was awed. The view was about 270 degrees of the horizon and encompassed absolutely gorgeous mountains. Sunlight bathed our campsite almost all day so it was warm and inviting despite being over 11,000' in elevation.
We lolled around in camp, basking in the sun like my marmot friend from earlier in the day. I wished that the day would last forever. When the sun finally sunk toward the horizon, I photographed my chocolate friend while scheming about the adventure that she and I would have the next day. I had a very fun mountain bike ride and canine swim planned for us!