The first news is that K seems absolutely fine. No limp, no pain - she ran around like a puppy during our evening hike yesterday. I had promised myself not to do any recalls during the evening hike because recalls make her run harder than anything. However, then the Duo hit upon bear scent so I was forced to recall her. She seemed to flow through the wildflowers effortlessly when she ran to me.
Then, we went to see what had put the Duo into such a tizzy. R had been trying to sniff it but simultaneously acting terrified of it. He stretched his neck out like a giraffe, took a quick sniff, and then scurried backwards. He repeated this skittish sequence several times. Here was what had him so worried.
Yes, it's a hole. A bear had heaved an old log out of the way and had dug out some grubs from under an aspen tree. Bear scent still terrifies R. This year, K has suddenly accepted that bear scent permeates our forest in the summer. She gets excited but doesn't usually act scared.
In fact, not too far away, my favorite sow walked past a motion-activated wildlife camera. This is the Queen Ursine of our forest. I believe she is the sow from the den that I found last winter. She also triggered another wildlife camera when she dug up an ant hill at the base of the camera - and the entire video is a close-up of rain-soaked bear fur! I'll spare you that one...
This morning, K and I prepared for our mountain bike ride with K basking in the sun that shined like a spotlight onto her bed. After a summer month of nearly identical sunlight patterns in the weeks around the solstice, the lighting in the house and forest is starting to change as the sun arcs lower in the sky.
I drank coffee on the deck watching a frenzy of hummingbird feeding. For most of the morning, every feeding portal was occupied with a tiny bird. Then, a new hungry hummingbird would arrive, sending all of them into wild chasing and fighting over feeding spots. I suspect that the hungry hummers are getting ready for their journey south, although I'd rather not think about that yet.
When K and I set out on a mountain bike ride this morning, I watched her movements very closely for any sign of pain after yesterday's scare. She was frisky and fine so I stopped worrying. I think that those of you who suggested a bee sting or that she stepped on something hurtful were probably right.
K enthusiastically galloped to me.
We headed for a rocky outcropping for a view of the mountains. K was as mesmerized by the view as I was.
After my ride with K, I headed out for a wildlife camera loop. I exchanged memory cards on all of my cams, except the one at the den which I don't plan to visit again until the depths of winter. I'm afraid that if I visit now, my incursion into bear territory will deter bears from using the den.
My wildlife cams, as you might expect, are in places replete with myriad animal signs and only very few human visitors. As I rode, I stopped and GPS-marked all the bear saplings that it appeared the bears had marked this past mating season. This mapping was in preparation for next year's courtship season when I plan to stake out several bear saplings with wildlife cams. Here's one bear tree with the top of the sapling and numerous branches broken off.
I looked closely at the nubs of the broken branches to see if they held fresh bear fur. The black fur is definitely fresh - the sun hasn't yet bleached it. The lower layers of fur are probably from past years - they're lighter colored (either due to sun bleaching or a cinnamon-colored bear) and matted down.
This sapling is a great prospect for next May and June. Directly across from it, I spotted an aspen with old black claw marks from a bear who climbed high in the tree and another aspen with fresh scratch marks. No doubt - this area is frequented by bears.
I finished my easy ride only shortly before early storms hit our neck of the woods. We're in monsoon season now, and thunderstorms hit almost every day. I think that's why the bear berries are doing so well!
Thanks to all of you for your supportive words after my scare with K yesterday. They helped a lot.