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Friday, February 25, 2011

Stormy skies

Yesterday afternoon, at our normal sunset hike time, the sky already loomed dusky as a storm moved into our area. The only brightness was a glimmer of color on the eastern horizon.
An impromptu pose on a shelf of boulders by the Labraduo...
The main elk herd, numbering over a hundred, was restlessly moving around in the forest and meadows that surround our house during our hike. As we started our hike, I could see that they'd recently marched close to our house, just skirting our clearing. I hiked toward the meadow to see if they were visible, and I saw another "superhighway" of elk tracks going in the opposite direction from the first elk superhighway. But, I saw no elk in the flesh.

One black Labrador was obsessed with the prospect of elk in the area. We've worked so hard to train him never to chase wildlife that I confidently let him off-leash. With the scent of elk in the air so strong that even I could discern it, we practiced many stays and recalls. Whenever he found a high point with a view, he stopped and stared in the direction that the elk had gone most recently.
When we moved further from the elk scent, R became more relaxed. He posed with his sister with the invisible Continental Divide behind them.
Near the end of our hike, I'd leashed the Duo because the forest seemed dark although it wasn't very late. As we passed the main meadow behind our house, I spotted the entire elk herd walking toward us, obviously planning to take a route that intersected with ours. They came to a halt and a hundred long necks with thick dark fur stretched upward, heads swiveling, as they assessed me and the Duo. The Duo was excited, but not overly so, much to my delight. In the fading light, I could take no photos but it was a special moment. I gazed back at the elk and then we moved along so that the elk could follow their chosen path without dealing with us.

Overnight, the promised storm started dropping snow on our forest. A coyote passed a wildlife camera near our house, and he looked up in an odd way. I wonder why? My best guess is that I'd just turned on a light because K had, uncharacteristically, asked to be taken out. I bet this coyote watched us as I took the leashed K outside. It's because of the wildlife that we absolutely never take the dogs outside after dark without leashes.
By this morning, only a couple of inches of snow had fallen. However, it was just enough to cover the ubiquitous ice patches that I've been whining about in recent days. Consequently, I rode very carefully today.

As I pedaled up higher, K climbed atop Coyote Rock, the rock that a coyote mounted to survey his surroundings one evening recently. The rust-colored rock with a coating of fresh snow against the steelshot gray sky was beautiful in a stark way.
The snow really whipped out of the sky sporadically. Our tracks were disappearing almost as fast as we made them. I saw absolutely no animal tracks, aside from the wide trampled trackways left by the elk herd last night.
K seemed enthusiastic, enjoying the new snow and running in the forest. Since her toe amputation in late November and subsequent rehab, her verve has fluctuated from day-to-day. I love the days when she's "on" like today.
All too soon, we were home, passing the same wildlife camera as the coyote passed last night.
My solo ride was disappointing. One look at the road told me to stay off of it, out of fear that a vehicle might lose control and hit me. So, I couldn't ride to any nearby trail networks with better conditions than our own. Indeed, when I returned from my short ride in our forest, a car had spun out nearby, landing next to the road with both airbags deployed, all four car doors open, and no passengers in sight. Within an hour, the passengers had returned to take their belongings from the non-functional vehicle and the authorities were on the scene. Remarkably and happily, no one was hurt due to the wonders of the safety features of modern automobiles. If only modern vehicles would prevent people from driving too fast in the first place, we'd all be safer.

Although I wished for a bigger adventure than riding on the trails behind my house, it was peaceful and relatively safe!


  1. I'm glad you and K got to get out together and the pictures of your hike are great. I can't imagine what a thrill that must have been to see the elk herd that way!

    I hope you have better weather for riding tomorrow. We had the dreaded black ice in spades here this morning.

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  3. Hi KB, That photo of R with a quizzical expression is great! I also like the one of K with snow on her face. The coyote has a scary look. I walked in fresh coyote tracks in our new snow yesterday. Snowing here now, too.

  4. Isn't it interesting how we learn to trust our instincts or "funny feelings" about taking a certain route or leashing up when there doesn't appear to be and danger. One of the benefits of getting older!

    hahaha: my vari-word is 'agist'!!

  5. We just love that first shot of R straddling the two big rocks.

    We had some very slippery conditions for drivers here today too, but mostly the drivers were at fault for going too fast:(

    Great concluding photo.

  6. Da Labraduo look pawsome today! Happy Friday my furiends!

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  7. Don't know why I missed yesterday but today's blog was great. I think I could like the Mountains just to see the big Elk Herds, that is very beautiful to me, all those big animals living and working together!

    You are so respectful of all the creatures you come across!

    Cheers and hugs,
    Jo and Stella

  8. even though we would, no chasing elk
    Benny & Lilyablies

  9. I LOVE the coyote shot!

    Thanks for sharing all of them!

  10. Hi Y'all,

    Great pictures! Love the expression the camera caught on the coyote.

    My Human takes me out after dark with a long lead.

    Staying off the roads is smart. I'll have to tell a story of Momma and the man on the bike that she never saw but nearly hit. If I remember I'll tell it Sunday.

    Y'all stay warm!

    Hawk aka BrownDog

  11. The photo of you is spot gives us all the exactness of your lucky to have it taken. The Duo must wonder at the sight of the herd of elk.

  12. I am Most Impressed with K & R. I'm pretty sure if I had seen a whole elk herd, I woulda just EXPLODED right there!

    Wiggles & Wags,

  13. Ditto what Mayzie said!

  14. What a fun day! The picture of R with that look on her face is beautiful. The coyote looks very inquistive as to what is really going on there! Love the pictures again. Such beauty! Lots of love, Holly and mom

  15. Love the photo of K on cougar rock. Growing up we had (at different times) two black labs. I just love them but have to commend you for being able to train them to not go with their instincts and chase wildlife!

    P.S. You are an inspiration with all the bike riding you do in the snow. I really must stop whining about winter and learn to just deal with it!

  16. A very cool coyote shot. I bet it's very interesting for you to see the wildlife photos and think back to what you were doing as the images were captured. I love the photo of the duo posing on the boulder too. Have a great weekend!!

  17. The feeling of coming so close to the Elk Herd must have been amazing. Reading you blog provides a moment of quiet reflection to us everyday...thanks.

    Be sure to stop by my blog and wish Quinn, The Other White Dog a happy First Gotcha Day...every comment earns $$ for charity.

  18. Oh KB
    The Elk are so magical..and to know you share the same world... is total awsomeness.. and to respect each others space,, such a unity that you have been able to feel and experience.
    We never , ever get tired of looking at your beautiful photos and listen to your words paint a picture.
    The coyote picture seems to be speaking to me right now as I think about the coldness that is drifting across the land- from my land to yours,, and I think again of all the forest creatures, the bunnys and elk, and squirrels and coyotes,, all in their own world trying to survive the harsh winter.
    And your photos show the story- the rest is left to our imagination

  19. Great photo of K. It looks as though you've caught her as she's just about to take off and come crashing through our computer screen.

  20. Wow, you have trained the Duo so well. I don't think I'll be able to handle it if there was a herd of elk near me BOL.


  21. I'm fascinated by your bike. I had never heard of snow bikes until I started reading your blog. While not the vehicle for me, it seems very well suited to you and the trails you ride. Love the glove thingies that cover the handlebars. I bet they keep your hands nice and warm.

  22. Funny to think of that elk herd so close to your trails and home - what a gift to be able to see them so readily!
    Also wild that you caught the moment where the coyote is alerted to you and K - they are such quiet, secretive creatures.


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