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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sweet sunrise

We have to hustle out the door to see the sun rise these days. The days are truly much longer than at the solstice. We reached our viewpoint just in time this morning after I cross-country skiied as fast as I could atop a hard windpacked crust to get there.
As we watched the sun rise, the relentless wind rested its assault for a few minutes. K galloped with happiness.
Alas, the respite was brief. K climbed atop one of her favorite boulders just as the Chinook wind jetted off the mountains. It buffeted her from behind, making her head fur stand on end.
Our view rapidly changed to a white-out, with the wind whipping snow pellets across the plateau.
We retreated into the deeper forest where the wind felt like a breeze rather than an indomitable force.
After touring the trails on skis, I dropped the pups off at home and headed out to ride dirt roads on my snowbike. I expected that I would ride only a short distance due to the wind. The wind was intense at the spot where I caught this view.
But, once I sought out more protected areas, the wind was manageable. On one of the secluded roads, I spotted a splinter faction of the elk herd. A flock of magpies milled among them, alighting on the backs of the elk. I've read that the magpies eat fleas and other parasites that live in the elk's fur. The elk didn't seem to mind having their feathered friends on their backs.

This was a moment when I wished that I had my SLR camera with me. The weak zoom lens on my point and shoot didn't do the scene justice.
In the photo below, a magpie is standing near the neck of the antlered bull elk. The bull didn't seem to notice the bird and focused on me instead. The calf to the left seemed to be mesmerized by the magpies. You can click on the photo to make it bigger.
After seeing the elk, I tried to ride a 4wd road that was passable early this week before the relentless wind took over our world. Alas, the snow drifts now tower as tall as me in places. After encountering the first bottomless drift, I returned to the plowed roads. 

It's a tough time of year for a mountain biker who hates being on maintained roads. Hopefully, the wild wind will stop making snowdrifts soon, and I'll be back to my off-road adventures.


  1. As always, your photos are gorgeous. Thanks so much for taking us with you on your romps!

  2. It is very hard fur me to gets my mom outside when it is cold and snowy so comin' here makes her appreciate da beauty of winter! ;)

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  3. Sure is beautiful. It looks freezing..
    Benny & Lily

  4. I like your windy photos and the sunrise, KB. That Magpie was along for the ride!

  5. I really have to hand it to you on getting up (and out) with the sunrise. These cold days seem to thicken my blood too much to get motivated. Maybe if I lived in such a beautifully breathtaking place, it would be different. Hopefully, one day I'll be able to answer that question ;)

  6. I've missed your last few posts--Sorry I've not been able to visit, but I always enjoy being able to just sit and enjoy your posts and amazing pictures! I loved the one of K's paw-print in the snow, and I remember when we lived in Alaska how much I loved the Magpie's they had so much character!~

  7. Hi Y'all,

    The photos of the Elk herd look like paintings rather than photos.

    Sorry it's so cold and snowy there. It's mid February, so spring isn't far off now.

    BrownDog's Momma

  8. So that's where all that wind came from this afternoon:) We almost hit 50 here today, but the winds were strong.

    I am an early riser but I would never be able to do what you do at that hour - bless you. I think I will remain content to enjoy the photo version of sunrise here.

    Enjoy what remains of the weekend.

  9. I love the photo of K with her fur standing on end, it's so cute!! Hehehe.


  10. I'm sitting here shaking my head at the beauty of the pics and the pups -

    AND marvelling at my word: CYCLO -

  11. I love how K's ears seem to be flapping around in the wind in that boulder picture. Marge's ears can do some pretty crazy things sometimes, too!

    Very magical moment that you caught of the magpies sitting with the elk.

  12. I do love your elk pictures and the bird frosted the cake!

    We get a relentless wind off the prairies, too. About 25 miles away the Red River Valley begins, and miles of open fields where nothing even slows down the wind.
    While that wind makes winter Unbearable, it also makes summer more comfortable!

    Cheers and hugs,

    Stella and Jo

  13. I hope the weather clears up for all of us soon! I've been amazed by how quickly our weather has turned around here this weekend. I feel like there might be hope of seeing Spring sometime after all. I can't believe how fast you were in a white out!

    K definitely looks like a happy girl out there with you. Those elk and magpies must have a good thing going!

  14. I know it becomes tedious when people say day after day great photos but today I have to say it. Maybe adversity, the chill wind,amplifies creativity.

  15. You wonder how the elk maintain themselves during this time of year, don't you? Such sparse, dry forage for them. It's interesting that the magpies have that symbiotic relationship with the elk. Do they do that all year, or just in the winter, when food is scarce?

    Being still fairly new to your blog, I'm going to be really curious to see if you keep getting up earlier and earlier, as the days continue to lengthen.

  16. Been lurking here for a bit, and have to say that your pics, and R and K, are just gorgeous. I'm here via The Herd, and was happy I clicked on your link one day. :)

    Lovely world your live in, especially to someone like me who lives in a boring, mountainless city. Sigh. :*(


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