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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!


  1. Hi KB, I hope you keep Arnica on hand for just such a mishap! I rubbed some on from head to foot yesterday after an 8 hour hike. I'm seizing the end of summer, too.

  2. Yeeouch! I'm glad you didn't pass out. I guess you have to watch where you're going a little bit while you keep your eyes on the prize.

    For the muzzle, we use a bit of that fleece sheepskin and glue it to the underside of the muzzle to prevent rubbing.

  3. Thanks for the Monty Python line in my head for the evening -

    Great flower pics!

    Khyra would love the popcornhoppers - she just missed snagging a cicada on our walk yesterday - it was flying - I saw her jump - I heard it glance off her teeth -

    Have a great weekend!

    Hope your 'just a flesh wound' heals well

  4. Frost ! Oh what a wonderful word. Can you please use it in your post every day until this heat goes ?

  5. Yeesh! Be careful out there! I can relate, though - I have run into trees more than once when I've been watching the dogs while trail running. I'm generally just glad that no one is around to see it, but then we don't have mountain lions to worry about!

  6. By the way - would you mind if I emailed you a picture of a track? It is the first track I've seen around here that I think could possibly be a bobcat track, and I'd love to get your opinion.

  7. Woof! Woof! WOW! Be careful. Happy BLOG HOP Weekend. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  8. Stopping by on the blog hop.
    Beautiful pictures:)

  9. We hopped by today to say hi! Mom loved the pics. She said it reminded her of when they lived in Colorado.
    Sniff you later,

  10. Fascinating! I'm hooked.

    Followin your tails/trails :)

  11. Hello we are your newest followers! Love your blog. WE can't wait to read more.


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