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Sunday, January 23, 2011

A cold winter day in the forest

This morning, I had my first pining for springtime. The temperature was 15°F and the wind was howling out of the west. K and I rolled out just as the sun touched the top of a group of sky high aspen trees that I think of as "les amis". They do everything in sync and have delighted me for years.
 As I pedaled past this aspen grove, I looked down and saw that our bobcat had patrolled trail last night. His track was next to a dog track. In the photo, the dog track is on the top and the bobcat track on the bottom.
It appeared as if he'd been in our clearing. Unfortunately, he'd dodged my high quality camera and was photographed by my bargain camera - so the quality isn't too great. First, he marched directly in front of the pole that holds our bear-proof bird feeding system.
Then, he started hunting, probably for the rabbit whose photo I showed yesterday. You can see him sitting patiently in the upper right of the photo.
I don't think that he had a successful hunt because I saw no signs of a rabbit being killed. He continued out of our clearing to where K and I had first picked up his tracks. As we rode, we hit a part of the trail system that no one else has been using recently. The bobcat walked directly in my snowbike tracks. You can see one paw print on the right where he slightly missed the tire track and he sunk in more deeply than on the other steps.
Despite the diversion of the bobcat tracks, K and I arrived up on the ridge only slightly after sunrise. I think that K was still sleepy.
But, the painfully cold wind soon awakened her and had me whimpering from the pain in my fingertips. Woo, it was frigid up there!
We ran around a little to warm up and then captured a better photo, although the magical sunrise light had morphed from red to gold.
We looped around the ridge, with me constantly scanning for animal tracks. Lots of tracks pocked the snow, including bobcat, deer, and coyote, but no mountain lion.

I wondered if K was too cold to keep going so I asked her. Her look clearly said "more riding, please"!
So, we slogged through windpacked cement-like snow to Hug Hill where K ran some laps to stay warm.
Then, we barreled down the hill, avoiding the drifts which bring even a snowbike to a dangerously fast stop, and headed home.

I headed out for some more riding after dropping K at home. Oh my, it was a whirling and wild day out there. I spotted our local ski area where several people have told me yesterday was magnificent - perhaps the best day of skiing there *ever*. I'm happy for them in a bittersweet sort of way. My last day of telemark skiing was March 14, 2005, the day before I had several levels of my low back fused. Most winter days, I don't get sad about my skiing moratorium. But, I do miss it.

For the sake of my heart, I usually manage to focus on what I can do, snow bike along the beautiful ridge.
In the afternoon, I took the Duo for a romp. I lined them up for a practice recall, forcing R to start behind K.
But, it didn't take long for him to barge around her, while glancing at her out of the corner of his eye, and win the race.

So, I made him start even further back.

He didn't look happy about it.
This time, K held him off, arriving first despite his desperate churning through the loose snow on the sides of the trail to try to pass her.
R is, paws down, the most competitive dog who I've ever met. Even before K's injury, she tended to back off and let him win, just because his intensity overwhelms her. I always found her reticence to compete to be odd because K is definitely the boss around the house. Maybe winning running races doesn't matter very much to the top dog. It is extraordinarily important to R!
As we wound down toward home, a scent mesmerized K. This was one of those instances when I called her to prevent her from getting in trouble. That scent looked too interesting.

R didn't catch the same scent... but he sure looked handsome in the golden fading light.
It was a fun winter day but, I'll admit that I was starting to dream of warmer days.


  1. beautiful montage of photos! i think the top dog doesn't give a rat's ass who wins the race..she is secure in herself, and lets the one who it's important to win....i think we can all take a lesson in that!
    bummer about the skiing, but i love your attitude of focusing on what you can do, and love.
    K looks really good (i know i say that all the time, but it just makes me happy :) and R looks like he has some auburn in his fur..or is it the light?
    i too have been thinking of warmer days...climbing outdoors...fewer clothes..the sound of the birds and leaves...i'm glad i live in 4 seasons..that is why we appreciate each one!!

  2. Glad that the bobcat didn't catch that cute little bunny, though I know he has to eat, too. I like kks's comment that K is so secure in herself that she can easily let R win, because he wants to so badly.

    It looks like you had another beautiful, if cold, day in your mountains. Spring is getting closer every day and will come, in it's own good time. I'm curious to watch the timing of its coming there were you are. I wonder if it will be earlier or later than here?

    Oh, by the way, it didn't get above 9 degrees F here today. That's very cold for us.

  3. We were 15 to 20 as well today -

    Khyra says the 'bobkhat' looks like how she sits out in the snow - daylight or dark!

    Once again, great shots - always a joy to see K and R at it!

  4. Your life seems to have so much happiness. Thanks for sharing part of it with us. I would be really interested sometime in seeing more of your 'bearproof birdfeeder' set up if you ever feel up to it. :)

  5. I can feel the cold in your fingertips so well. No walks here for days now, but the feeling of numbness is not easily forgotten.

    Great photos - love the one of sleepy K:)

    Dakota was always the pack leader here, but it was fun to see how some things were more important than others.

    Hope your week warms up some.

  6. Beautiful photos of your beautiful dogs!

  7. The frigid cold has us all thinking of warmer weather...great photos today!

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  8. We actually saw just above freezing today for the first time in a couple of weeks. It was a beautiful day and was nice walking around with the dogs.

    You might enjoy tomorrow's post of our. Sort of focused on a certain set of tracks we spotted in the snow.

  9. I'm with you... I think I'm ready for things to warm up! That being said, I'm loving your snowbound photos.

  10. We're dreaming along with you! I was hoping for a mild weekend so I could try to get out and inhale some fresh air, but Bunny was shivering after being outside for just a couple of minutes, and so was I, even though we were all bundled up. I'm darned tired of wearing so many clothes! :P

    Bunny says that R is welcome to come and run with her! She could teach him a few things about competition. Maybe he could help her with her big race! He really is looking stunning. You can see how much taller he's growing in those pictures, too!

  11. Love, love, love that first pic of R behind K - so nicely composed. Looks Brrrr there - here, too.

  12. I don't think Bunny realizes that I also read this blog. No R can not help you win the race, Bunny! BOL!

    I love the pictures of R and K together in the grey twilight (that's what it looks like to me). Very cool and interesting lighting.

    Your pal, Pip

  13. I don't think Bunny realizes that I also read this blog. No R can not help you win the race, Bunny! BOL!

    I love the pictures of R and K together in the grey twilight (that's what it looks like to me). Very cool and interesting lighting.

    Your pal, Pip

  14. BOL at Pip's comment to Bunny, bahaha.
    I love the peekture of R racing past K.

    Hope you get to warm up soon!


  15. Your dogs are so good looking. I really like the photo of R sitting directly behind K. I don't think my dogs care who wins their races. They just love the chase. Zoe is bound to "win" anyway. Maybe that's why they don't care. :)

  16. Interesting thoughts on the competitive nature of one vs another dog. I hadn't really considered it before. I think there's more psychological manipulation that goes on with my 2 girls - lots of licking and playing and then "aha! I've got what I want!" Poor Nyxie, though - Arwen always has the last word.
    That pic where R is giving a sideways glance to K is priceless ;)

  17. Ooh!! Almost forgot - figured of all people you would appreciate this:
    Tonight we saw a bobcat! Just off the balcony behind our apartment! I know you see your bobcats with frequency, but I've never seen one in person anywhere I've lived. This one was just walking along the coyote path...It was magical.

  18. Tomorrow, for the first time in more than a week, we are above the double 0's! Supposed to get up in the 20s, Stella and I will be out most of the day!

    Beautiful pictures and an especially great post today.

    Cheers and Hugs,

    The Frozie Toez Gang of MN

  19. OMD, that is so funny about R and K. R is exactly like Loki! Loki will do anything to be physically faster, harder, stronger than juno or any dog. juno will concede all the time because "she doesn't care" but seriously, she isn't strong enough either. sometimes i wonder if she were strong enough if she'd care, but i think the answer would be no. even tho Loki's the competive pushy dog, juno rules the roost. she plays all sorts of mind games with loki and he'll never challenge her on things that belong to her (bone, toy)... that she actually cares about. he'll bully her for a toy he wants when we're all playing lightly outside (that's his competitive part) but when it's serious and she has something she cares about, OMD, he won't even look at her. and i've seen her time and again take things that are his.

    i think that competitve spirit is part of his need for confidence and acceptance. he's like that when he meets people, pushy, wants them to like him. so much so it's gregarious and silly and people usually do like him.

    re: your comment about Loki looking guilty...yes he does but not for what you think. he always looks guilty when JUNO commits a crime. i'll never forget the first day i found an eaten shoe. i said under my breath quietly "bad dog" (toward Juno) but Loki ran like i was beating him senselessly. He knows something is wrong and he acts like the guilty party, but i KNOW it's Juno. he is just NOT interested in destruction of things. I've recently left him alone in the house with all sorts of stuff to destroy, papers whatever. it was perfect when i got home. so i know it's juno. paws down! it wouldn't surprise me if she sets him up too by putting stuff on his bed! she's been known to think that strategically.

    anyway, R does look so bummed starting behind, it's so funny. i wonder how he and Loki would get along? pals or enemies (too much alike?)

  20. Don't much like the thought of cold induced aches in the finger tips. Fun photo of the two of them sitting one in front of the other.

  21. Nice shot of the dog and bobcat tracks together. Good to compare them side by side and see the differences.

  22. We've also got 'finger freezing' temps here in Virginia, and I'm also dreaming of warmer days--But I also am dreaming of at least one snow day for us too!

    Hope your week is off to a good start!

  23. I give you 2 thumbs up for braving that cold! I wanted nothing to do with going outside this morning when it was -19! Great pictures of your trail!

  24. Oh K... glad you woke up! That's fun tracking the bobcat who tracks you. It's kinda like I know what you know and you know... hee hee.

    Being a crackah boy and all, I must say boys always want to win. It takes a bossy lady to keep us in place and it seems you pick your battles.

    - ps- woo can boss me around anytime

  25. I guess I have to say that the first photo of the dogs sitting is spot on..a beauty! The cold really has taken over North America. To be expected since it's almost Feb. Always glad (weird I know) when Feb arrives because it's a short month and then we have March and spring. The dogs are looking very healthy and really look frwd to your treks. Sorry to hear about the skiing story...I believe your adventures are much more compelling than racing down the slopes :-)

  26. Jason,

    I had a post a couple of years ago that talked about our bearproof birdfeeding system. It's at:

    I hope that helps!

  27. so much beauty
    so much fun
    so much energy
    and some time
    make for a beautiful memory

  28. I love the photos of your dogs running. So much intensity and the expressions on their faces tell so much about them.

    I had a dog training class last night and went through about 100 treats. The class is held in a vet's office (crazy!) and with the intensity of the smells in some of the areas we were practicing heeling through, it's suprising I could get Java to look at me at all. Some smells even seemed to freeze her in her tracks where she didn't want to go any farther. The stories their noses must pick up...


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