You all have sent me so many kind words, and they've helped. I also re-started some of my stronger back medicines, and they've helped too. So, I woke up this morning feeling a shade more upbeat than recent mornings. I'm sorry for the "down" days in my blog - I do my very best to keep an optimistic attitude but chronic pain breaks through and bruises my spirit every now and then.
This morning, it also helped my spirit that K is finally getting used to her muzzle and acting enthusiastic about our mountain bike rides. I never realized how much her mood affects mine. I think that I feed off her joy. I get my daily infusion during our mountain bike ride, and, when she was acting like she wasn't having fun due to her muzzle, I suffered with her. She happily led the way this morning.
We rode to one of the most expansive aspen groves that's nearby to check its colors. Yellow is overtaking green in the grove, showing visually that we are teetering on the shoulder between summer and autumn.
Each tree that I looked at closely had some yellow and some green leaves, brilliantly shining against the blue sky. Notice in the photo below that the yellow leaf has many green ones backing it up.
K and I stopped near the grove for a muzzle break and a hug. She looked happy, and it made my heart sing.
Several of you (Samantha, Nubbin' Tails, NCMountainWoman, kks, Sierra Rose) guessed correctly on the "bigfoot" photo from yesterday. It was a BEAR rubbing his/her back on the tree holding the camera! At first, I wondered if the bear marked the tree because of my newly placed camera or if I'd accidentally placed my camera on a traditional bear marking tree. I asked the experts in Minnesota whether a bear was likely to be provoked to mark a tree due to a new camera - the answer was "probably not". So, this morning, I moved the camera to a different, but nearby tree, and pointed it at the bear marking tree. We may not get any more footage this year because the bears are close to going to sleep but it's worth a try! Here's a video that shows the 2 photos per second taken by my trail camera throughout the bear marking. I believe that we're seeing the hind end of the bear (the camera was low, about 2' off the ground) with glimpses of the tail.
The bear looks gray because it was dusk and the camera's infrared "flash" makes gray-scale photos.
Today, on Facebook, the Minnesota bear researchers posted a photo of a bear doing exactly what I think that "my" bear was doing against the tree holding my camera. In the photo, the sow's cubs are at her feet.
While I was at the site of my trail camera, I closely examined the tree. I found a few black hairs caught on branch nubs - bear hair, no doubt. I also noticed that the tree's branches on one side up to about 6' high had all been broken off a long time ago. That fits with it being a long-term bear tree. Intriguingly, it's the same tree where I've captured images of bobcats scent-marking over the past week. I'm beginning to wonder if there are general scent posts in the forest where multiple species mark. This site would be one of them.
At another site, a couple of miles away, a young mule deer buck had cautiously tip-toed past a camera. This buck has velvet antlers, and has clearly had some violent encounters in his young life. Notice the scars on his chest and forelimbs.
I mentioned in a previous post that it is bear hunting season. It's also bow-hunting season for deer. Benny and Lily wondered why we don't don blaze orange. Our tradition is that we wear our orange gear, including orange dog vests, during deer and elk rifle season. That's when the woods teem with hunters, and the danger of a stray bullet is highest. I've never seen a bear hunter in our neck of the woods.