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Monday, March 7, 2011

An alien blue-skied world

Yesterday afternoon, old man winter decided to take hold of our world again. Rather than a sunset hike, we had a snowy hike.
I let the Labraduo run with abandon for our shorter-than-usual jaunt.
Overnight, a thin coating of snow and hoar frost transformed the world.
I recently pointed a wildlife camera at a freshly scraped spot that has bobcat scat on it. I've learned over the past year that a bobcat scent post is likely to be an important site for many species. This morning, a coyote visited it. She trotted briskly straight toward my camera and almost missed the scent post. She screeched to a halt, turning her head toward the territorial marking by the bobcat. Her movements were so swift that she was blurred in the photo.
She sniffed it with her elegantly long nose.
Then, she hit the "comment" button.
As if she knew that she'd just been photographed in a compromising position, the coyote assumed a statuesque and noble pose, gazing into the distance. I know that many people don't like coyotes but I think that she's beautiful.
At around the same time, K and I were in a different part of the fog-enshrouded and frosty world on a snowbike ride.
Look at the sparkle in K's eyes! She didn't mind the weather in the least.
The foggy world seemed so black and white, without vivid colors that my eyes started seeking them. I noticed brilliant orange lichen with a hoar frost coated grass stalk in front of it. That sight took the drabness out of the morning!
Just before we arrived home, K heard something in the distance and climbed on a boulder to survey, just like her coyote cousins like to do.
When I dropped K off at home, I donned an extra layer of clothing and packed yet another layer into my backpack. It felt like the type of damp and cold (15°F) day that can lead to hypothermia very fast.

The world near my house was so foggy that I could see less than 50 yards. So, I wore a florescent jacket as my outer layer. I slogged up the road toward the Continental Divide, and within ten minutes, the world was crystal clear. The hoar frost on the aspen skeletons sparkled in the sunlight with an azure sky as the background.
As I crested a hill, I saw the Divide. It still had a few clouds floating over it but nothing like a few moments earlier.
I hit my favorite snowbiking trails and hammered along in a few inches of fresh snow - a trail to heaven!
I noticed the pine trees glittering and examined them more closely. I saw icicles sparkling in the sunlight! Each icicle had a mirage of a tiny pine tree at its core.
By this point, the intense sunshine was boiling me inside my many layers of clothing. I stopped to take off a layer, my neck gaiter, and hat before beginning the ride toward home.

To my utter disbelief, within minutes of starting to pedal toward home, I felt daggers of frigid air and ice pellets attacking me. The storm front was invading our world again. The clouds oozed inexorably from left to right in the photo below.
I arrived home in the midst of pogonip (my favorite word for icy fog), feeling like I'd visited an alien blue-skied planet during my ride. I wondered if I'd hallucinated the clear blue skies! But, the photos proved it - they were real.

While I was gone, my wildlife camera on the driveway took the most intriguing photo. Any guesses? I don't know the answer but it could be scary.
Several of you asked why the wild animals use our driveway so much. There's no pot of gold at the top of it. I suspect they like the cleared surface for walking much more than the surrounding snowy and icy landscape. The bobcat seems to use the small paths around our property in the non-snowy months and the driveway in the winter. I'm glad that we can make his life a little easier!

28 comments:

  1. Such beautiful pictures. We are just starting to get the snow here.

    Wags!

    Mr. Nubbin'

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  2. If you live in the flat country, you don't realise how quickly the weather can change in the high country. This is where the weather begins for the rest of the country. The skys go from beautiful to blizzard in minutes. We love the contrast and change in your photos.

    Mogley G. Retriever

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  3. You know my opinion of the coyote!

    She's a true beauty in many ways!

    Great Labraduo pics -

    Of course, I loved all the others too!

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  4. Hi Y'all,

    Oh my, a hairy devil!

    In the mountains we get that change of weather between one valley and the next. Sometimes we are in beautiful sunlight and it is drizzle and rain when we get down to the town.

    Where our house sits at a gap. Our weather usually comes through that gap and we can watch it coming.

    Here at the shore we watch our weather come across the water.

    Ya'll come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

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  5. Are you sure the wildlife camera didn't catch a picture of K? It almost looks like her coloring. My guess would be a coyote, but that's pure speculation.

    Isn't it funny how the fog can just hang in some places? I love the icicles with the tiny pine trees! That is a great shot! I think Mother Nature was having some fun at your expense today!

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  6. Girl, I knows all bouots hypothermia today...it was -30 degrees (mum says it was only 55 degrees but whats da difference).

    I actually find coyotes very fscinating and just beautifuls! Hehehehehe...is hers peeing or pooping?

    Dat last photo is surreal...reminds me of an image you would read bouts from like a oem or sumptin.

    Puddles

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  7. Absolutely beautiful pictures again! I wonder what did happen to the camera! We are far away from you but if we go into the mountains here (that are more like hills compared to yours)...the weather can change really quick. We usually try and pack for most anything if we can! Lots of love, Holly and mom

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  8. Again, great photos today! Add me to the list of those who find coyotes very interesting! We have them here in Virginia, but I am pretty sure they are smaller, but just as illusive as their western cousins.

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  9. Hmmm, could that be Ciara zooming by looking for some snow?

    The coyote looks like she is posing for a show dog competition - such a beautiful stance.

    The pups are wishing they could get some of your snow, but we are doomed for more very heavy rain and yes, more t-storms. Two pups here are saying it is true.

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  10. "Then, she hit the "comment" button."

    I laughed out loud at this! And then I hit the comment button :)

    Kira

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  11. We think you are loving the weather no matter what its like as long as you are with mom
    Benny & Lily

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  12. I thought the same thing as Houndstooth -- maybe that is K? Otherwise a coyote... Do you ever read The Daily Coyote? (www.dailycoyote.net) Worth a visit or two. That iceicle picture. Wow.

    Loved the "comment button"!!

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  13. I have always loved the look and behavior of the Trickster but have never had to live with them either.

    Like the Timberwolves we have up here, they just write their own ticket.

    We got several inches of new snow yesterday, and my, but its getting OLD.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Stella and Jo

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  14. Just googled pogonip...love these new words and to be able to witness the ice fog...perfect!

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  15. Pogonip! I like it!
    Beautiful pictures!
    I have no idea what the mystery photo is:)

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  16. I LOVE that first picture. It is just magical.

    I don't think I want to meet up with any coyotes, but my mom LOVES them. She is really fascinated with them (especially the growing population of urban coyotes).

    Your pal, Pip

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  17. My guess would be mountain lion for the mystery photo. That photo of the icicle on the pine needles is stunning! I love the coyotes too. :-)

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  18. We're guessing mountain lion, too, because of the light brown to golden fawn color. Loved the first photo of the blue sky, big tree and the one with the 'ice pine' inside the icicle on the pine.

    Heard a story on NPR recently that coyotes and eastern wolves are interbreeding in the northeastern US, creating coyotes that are bigger, bolder and more aggressive than normal coyotes, and willing to live closer to humans than wolves can tolerate.

    Jed & Abby

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  19. I think I have told you before - on my wall in the den is a photograph of a striking coyote. The picture was taken by a local wildlife photographer and is one of my favorite's of his work.

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  20. Awesome shots of the coyote. Most animals are just like us and will use the easiest path. I'm guessing your driveway is the easiest path for them.

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  21. It is amazing the different microclimates that exist on your home turf...such differences and beauty! Momma loves the black and whiteness of the fog shrouded lower areas. Very intense.

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  22. Beautiful piktures, especially the pine icecylces!!

    I wonder what that is? Is it close up fuzz or a moth wing?

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  23. Those ice photos are amazing! You got a lot of the coyote too... so cool!

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  24. Wow-gorgeous pictures again! Love that big meadow shot with the fog rolling in!

    Boy-that coyote modeling in front of the camera is just gorgeous. Leggy supermodel coyote!

    Give the duo a slurp from the gang!
    xoxo

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  25. You're right, that coyote is beautiful!! Isn't amazing how quickly the weather conditions can change there. I love the close up icicle photo.

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  26. What a wild ride! Pogonip - I've never heard that before...it's great to learn a new word :)
    I wonder what that pic - I'm thinking mountain lion!

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  27. Whatever camera you were using for those two macro shots does a fine job. Those pictures should be greeting cards! Outstanding!

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