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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wildlife action plus more mountain trip photos

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.


  1. Great wildlife shots!

    I hope they know how famous they are!

    Khyra and I were jealous of the weather on your trip!

  2. Love the wildlife pictures. Can't wait to see the "investigative" video.

    I do agree with you about knowledge of the joy of nature is such a foundational part of what I am. I can become so recharged just walking through a meadow or down a trail.

  3. The beauty and mystery of nature is always a stimulus for peace. One of the reasons we so love visiting your blog.

    Siberians are not likely to have a high sheen to their coats, but we are always amazed at the beauty of K and R's coats - just brilliant and so healthy looking.

  4. Oh kids we love those wildlife cams. Cool stuff
    Benny & Lily

  5. Its our pleasure to welcome you back, KB!

    All your photos are great, but the last one is just extra special, beautiful color and sky!

    I wish I could say I shared your feelings about the wilderness, but I don't. I do love to read your blog and see your pics so let me continue to enjoy it this way!

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  6. I am glad you were able to return, too, since I enjoy those places vicariously through your photos! You are certainly blessed to get such great shots.

    I'm really curious about the bear video now!

  7. that bike path looks amazing! such glorious pictures and i love the wild animal cams!!
    Nature "makes my soul sing"...i know exactly how you feel!
    you have definitely set up your environment so your soul can sing everyday!! after all, isn't that what we are all striving for?! i know i am! :)

  8. Great pictures of the young buck. Love the final paragraph.

  9. Thanks for sharing more pictures from your trip. That singletrack makes me want to get on a mountain bike (and I don't say that often/ever)!

    While I love my city, I so often want to pack up and find a quiet place to live. I'd like to think my soul can sings in different places, but I wouldn't mind turning down the volume to hear it =)

  10. Another set of wonderful wildlife photographs. And what a sweet contrast between K and R. K willing to sleep in as long as you want, and R ready to get out and go.

  11. I consciously try to memorize certain places (and the feelings they bring) precisely so that I can call upon them in times of need.

  12. Spectacular scenery on your R & R! That glow on the mountain is so beautiful. I think you need to put a wildlife camera at my house! The Mama Bear and twins have been visiting. I tried to take pics about a week ago, but I get so excited, I shake the camera!

  13. Blessings to the beauty we can explore! Monarch Crest Trail sounds fantastic!

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

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