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Thursday, January 13, 2011

A surgery anniversary

Today was an anniversary. I had my neck fusion surgery one year ago, and K got out of the hospital after intestinal blockage surgery on that same day. I must say that today was much more fun than our day one year ago. It seemed to me like an occasion for celebration.

K and I took an extra long hike this morning, and she was giddy with puppy-like energy. She rolled in the snow with abandon.
And then she shook off the snow clinging to her fur.
During our hike, we found the tracks of a mother mountain lion and her large kitten. Sometimes, their tracks showed that they moved side-by-side, and the kitten often loped while mom walked. In the photo below, the kitten's tracks are on the left and the mother's tracks are on the right.
The mother's tracks were smaller than the lion tracks that I've been seeing frequently in our forest. The hand warmer is 3.5" long and the track is smaller.
The pair appeared to be in stealthful hunting mode for much of their walk. They'd walk from tree to tree along their path, and a bunch of tracks would be clustered together at the base of each tree. I suspect that they were standing behind each tree to scan for prey.
At one point, they both sat down, leaving distinctive marks in the snow. In the photo below, the sitting mark is at the bottom of the photo. The lion's butt left a completely melted spot. Then, the lion walked away, upward in the photo.
The kitten still played with the abandon of a young one. I saw many places where mom walked steadily forward but the kitten leaped onto boulders and fallen trees. In the photo below, for no particular reason, the kitten walked a downed tree like a balance beam.
Near the end of our tracking, a bobcat's tracks met the mountain lion's tracks. The bobcat had walked carefully placing each paw into one of the packed down mountain lion tracks. The bobcat's legs are so much shorter than a mountain lion's legs that he could only maintain the long reaching strides of a lion for a few steps. Then, he'd give up on putting his paws directly in the lion's tracks... leaving a few of his own tracks, before starting the whole process again. Now, that's an audacious bobcat!

While we investigated the lion tracks, K was leashed. She was a happy dog when we left those tracks behind and she could run again! She kicked up her heels sending snow crystals flying into the air.

After our hike, I headed out on the snowbike, making new tracks on a favorite winter route.
I saw all sorts of wildlife. A splinter group of elk hung out in a meadow near my house. These cow elk watched me closely!
A couple of young bull elk mingled in the group, sporting spike antlers.
While I was riding, this group walked very close to my house leaving a trail of churned up snow. Their tracks showed that they came close to the front door. The dogs must have gone bananas!

Deeper in the woods, I spotted a young mule deer buck who thought that he was invisible in the pine trees.
I rode hard, enjoying the warm sun and the fact that I wasn't lying in a hospital bed like last year. Thanks to the surgery, my neck is much more stable and I ride my bike more confidently. I felt happy today.

In our clearing, I saw one last beautiful being, a White Breasted Nuthatch perched in a pine tree, chirping insistently.
A good day - especially when compared to one year ago.


  1. We agree - much better this year and, therefore, much to be celebrated!

  2. time alawys heals. Those mountain lion tracks are very scawy
    Benny & Lily

  3. Happy NeckAVersary?

    Seriously, congrats!

    You are truly inspirational in SO many ways!

    The first pic of K: PRICELESS!

  4. I'm glad you two survived that year!

    Aren't you ever afraid with all that wildlife around you?

  5. Even though I've not been following your blog for very long, I know that your last year has been an amazing journey of healing, I hope the year ahead remains bright and positive--I think the signs are there that it is on its way to being just that!

  6. Very glad you are here instead of being there a year ago for both you and K.

    I have a question...You said K was leashed when you were going through the lion's tracks, how do you guage when it is safe to let her run? Just curious.

    Time is a wonderful healer.

  7. Definitely a day to celebrate. Gorgeous photographs.

  8. Congrats!!! That is quite an anniversary indeed!!!!

    Love the pic of K rolling in the snow!

    ~The Monsters

  9. I am so glad you had a good day! Those elk are cute!


  10. ESP - I woke this morning thinking of your last year's back surgery and wanted to check the date! Can it already be a year? You and K have been through so much - glad to see her "giddy" (and you, too, no doubt!) in the photos. The Nuthatch pic is just beautiful.

  11. What a special way to celebrate the anniversary of your surgery. I am glad this year is better for you and hope the coming year is even better.

    Your pal, Pip

  12. It's definitely a much better day! I think it's been a year that's shown improvement throughout. You've grown stronger in all the right ways!

    K's pictures are always beautiful, but that one of her running in the snow should be framed somewhere! It's gorgeous!

    Thanks for all the ideas for Miss Blueberry! I got the royal stink eye when we left for the nursing home visit and she didn't get to go. She hasn't gotten the memo that she's on restricted activity, apparently.

    Oh, and don't believe everything that Morgan says on her blog! I really am a nice person. Mostly. Probably. Well, I try to be! :P

  13. Thank you for sharing the joyous beauty of this special day! We are so thankful that both you and K have made such great strides and incredible recoveries...less would be so much our loss! Happy Day!

  14. you are such a good tracker. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

  15. Oh the sweet little nuthatch,,,and those beautiful photos of K!
    we know you think of us,,, and so you find photos for us to see your world,, and how we enjoy it!
    We celebrate with both you and K.
    This has been an incredible journey of recovery

  16. Seeing K as rowdy as she is, is just pure joy to me!

    Also that you have taken all the good stuff you have learned about surgery and helped my Sister out with it. Your determination to recover was awe-inspiring!

    Cheers and hugs,

    Stella, Jo and Zkhat

  17. That silly brown dog rolling in the snow is the same majestic K who graces your masthead and whose fur glows?? LOVE it. So glad you girls are back!!

    Beautiful shots as always, but I really like the nuthatch.

  18. Amazing the difference a year can make. K looks so happy in the rolling in the snow pic...what was she obstructed by? Just curious...

  19. Now, that is an anniversary to celebrate.

  20. We share in your happiness! All the photos are beautiful but the ones of K are exceptional!

  21. what a celebration!
    such gorgeous pics!
    one year ago....
    K looks really great!
    have a great weekend....

  22. Thanks to all of you for your kind comments.

    ForPetsSake: K fed on the remains of a mule deer killed by a mountain lion when she briefly roamed during a hike. She ate mainly bones... leading to an almost immediate obstruction.

  23. It is wonderful when the anniversary of a not-so-pleasant day can be one of such joy and beauty.

    We love how you are able to read those tracks. It would have been fun to see the lion pup playing and balancing on that tree.

  24. A true anniversary celebration! I'm glad you had such a happy one.

    I, too, love the pictures of K, now so much stronger and vital, enjoying herself in the snow. And, that was a lovely story you told, about Mother Cougar and her kitten, just from tracks in the snow. I could see them in my mind's eye, as I followed along.

    I sometimes wonder, as I read about your back, and mountain biking, if you have ever tried horseback riding to keep your back exercised? I know many people say that following the motion of the horse's back is wonderful therapy. Are horses permitted on those mountain trails you bike on?

  25. We just love that first picture of K. We are happy that both you and K have healed from your surgeries of a year ago. How time flies!

    Pugs & Kisses,

    Yoda, Brutus & Ellie

  26. K, you are looking pretty lively in the photos!!! Especially the first one! What a fantastic image. Amazing to capture the smaller lion prints on the tree trunk...can imagine a playful walk on that fallen tree.
    Are the snowbike treds showing up in the print? Wondering if one would identify the track as tires, or be left wondering what kind of animal now roams this area!! :)
    Have fun! We're home for a week or weekend snow for us for bit.

    Sweet hugs,
    Sierra Rose

  27. Well after my little one week bout withs snow...going out in it would not be a good way to celebrate...I'd take a beer...or 2....hehehe! I has cabin fever now, can you tell? What a year ya'll has had...whew!
    I am crackin up overs dat furts pikture of K...hehehe!


  28. Cute and funny photo of K rolling in the snow...great photo of the nuthatch too!

  29. Hi Y'all,

    Just paused to say Hi! and enjoy the nuthatch and sunset...oh how people miss the little things in life that make it all worth while.

    What an incredible shot of the mule deer buck. He doesn't know how lucky he is that he was shot by you and not a hunter. The Elk, while they watch you with interest, seem unconcerned.

    So glad I had time to stop and catch up...your day brightener brightened mine. Thank you.

    So glad you and K had a wonderful anniversary.

    BrownDog's Momma

  30. So happy I picked today to visit...
    What a difference a year makes, huh?

  31. Happy Anniversary to both of you. That must have been quite a recovery period at your house last year, with both of you needing nursing at the same time. You surely helped each other in recovery.

    Read in one of your comments on another blog that K has chronic pancreatitis. So does Abby. May I ask what you feed her? You mentioned cooking for her.

    Hope the mama mountain lion and her cub found some food, although we always feel bad for the food.

    Jed & Abby

  32. Your pictures lift my spirit as always. I love tracking the wild animals with you and seeing their pictures!

    Happy anniversary to both you and K! You've both been through a lot.

    sometime maybe you could blog about how you train your dogs? They seem exceptionally well behaved. How did you learn to train them?

  33. Progress is good, and celebration is too! Your photos look amazing! I'm super excited to see your world through those lenses! One other tip I meant to share with you, but don't think I did, was the continuous shooting mode, where you hold down the shutter release button and the camera keeps firing repeatedly. I use it all the time, as I can still release it to take one shot when needed. You might already be using it, but it's great for speedy dogs. You need a big memory card, but capture a lot of great and unusual photos. Hope you all have a great weekend!!

  34. We were lucky enough to spot a mule deer yesterday - a rare occurence since urban sprawl engulfed our little paradise. It was my stallion, Baron, who spotted it. We never would have guessed he was there. You are so lucky to live where you see so much wildlife!

    We love the picture of K rolling in the snow!


  35. i didn't know you a year ago, but i know that must have been so much for you and K to go through. i'm so glad that one year later, ya'll are doing better and enjoying life together!!

    the booker man and asa's mama


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