While I was away, the action was thick and furious at one of my wildlife cameras. I'll show you, chronologically, the animals who passed the camera over that time.
First, Mama Mule Deer led her fawn across a wildlife trail. We've seen this pair in this exact spot before.
Uh oh, where did Mom go?
An alarmed looking young buck crossed the trail. I believe that this is the buck who used to travel with an older buck who carried a big velvet rack of antlers. The older buck disappeared on the day that a mountain lion passed this spot. I'd say that the youngster has good reason to be wary.
In fact, a hulking strong bear was in the vicinity. I suspect that this boar is the one who I've dubbed "Scarface". He visited the den soon after my favorite sow and her yearlings departed.
This bear visited every one of my wildlife cameras posted over a large radius in the forest over the course of a few days. My cameras are currently focused on bear "hot spots" so I don't think that he tracked me but that he simply visited all the hot spots.
The boar closely investigated each camera. Here, he knocked the camera to the side, leading to wavy-looking trees.
After the ursine examination, the camera almost righted itself so it remained useful while we were gone.
Later, he mauled another camera, leaving it pointing in a ridiculous direction. I have funny video from that "ursine investigation" that I'll post soon.
A few days later in the same spot, the spotted fawn sped across the corridor so fast that he looked like he had streaked fur!
It took 15 minutes for the fawn's mother to appear in the camera's view. She stood, sniffed, looked around, walked slowly back and forth, and eventually followed the path of the fawn. I hope that they found each other again.
Finally, the young buck warily walked through the intersection again.
Someone asked me how I get the animals to come into the view of my cameras. They thought that I put out food bait to attract them. In fact, I do no such thing. I've spent a ton of time in the forest over the years, carefully looking for signs of animal activity. I make educated guesses about what species left the signs and then put up a camera to find out the real answer.
Based on animal signs, I expected mainly black bears and mountain lions plus an occasional mule deer to appear on this camera. While both have appeared, deer are the most numerous species who use this "game trail". I learn something new every single day.
While the animals at home busily went about their business, I enjoyed euphoric mountain biking high above treeline. The weather made timing my rides dicey. We awakened to rain on our first couple of mornings and waited in the van for a break in the drenching. K cuddled in the sleeping bags with only her chocolate head exposed.
R impatiently gazed out the window thinking "rain, rain, go away".
Once the rain abated, K and I headed out for a ride, enjoying the mystical sight of clouds floating around us rather than over us.
The trail that I rode that day, called the Monarch Crest Trail, is simply ecstasy on a bike. Expansive views spread in every direction and the smooth trail undulates along the Continental Divide. On a weekday, it's not too crowded, and I can relax into an easy rhythm of pedaling at 11-12,000'!
On the day that I rode it last week, the dark clouds seemed to envelope the alpine world. Fortunately, it was too early in the morning for lightning, for I am not yet ready to die, even if it is while riding my favorite trail. There are too many wild places left to explore, both literally and figuratively.
When I reluctantly turned back toward camp, the mountain that guards over our meadow appeared on the horizon leading the way.
The reddish mountain glowed in the sunset that night.
As I watched the sunset, I pondered why visiting these mountain oases is so important to me. I realized that just knowing that such peaceful and wild places exist makes my soul sing and gives me a calm confidence about my life. At times of stress like while I waited on a gurney before my spine surgery in January, visions of my favorite meadow washed over me, reminding me that the peace of the natural world awaited me when I was ready to return. I'm so happy and relieved that I was able to return this summer.