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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bear den and sunset hike

A week ago, I made a visit to the empty bear den to see what animals had passed the den over the winter. I love visiting the den because it is such an important place for our bears. But, I strictly ration my visits to avoid letting my human scent build up there.

The only visitor all winter was our feisty bobcat.
He arrived on the scene in late March just after darkness had fallen. He stood still looking toward the den entrance. Perhaps he was sniffing for bears. Based on my experience last winter, I can assure you that he'd be able to smell any bears in the den!

Then, he started to walk toward the entrance.

There was a 10 second gap in the photos as he appeared to approach the den entrance. I suspect that he peered into the den, and then walked uphill to the right of it. If you look very closely at the photo below, you can see his tracks going to the right of the hole in the boulders and his hind end just barely visible at the right edge of the photo.
Nobody else visited the den all winter long. That's not too surprising because all the bears were denned in other places, hopefully sound asleep. Moreover, the area where the den sits holds a heavy snowpack all winter and most animals seem to avoid deep snow.

At the end of my den visit, I made sure that my camera was working and had good batteries. I walked away from the site knowing that I may not return until next January. Based on last year, I know that bears visit this den throughout the spring, summer, and fall. I don't want to leave my scent in their special place. By next January, hibernating bears will be deeply asleep so it's a good time to visit a den.

My fingers are crossed that a bear family chooses to use the den next winter! Perhaps the sow from last winter will bring her new cubs to this perfect den for a long winter sleep.

Yesterday evening, the Duo and I had a sun-soaked hike that felt distinctly springlike. They were full of verve and very photogenic!
Since becoming interested in photography, I've learned that the "best light" for photographs at sunrise and sunset is in different spots as the seasons change. This dramatic boulder is a great sunset spot right now.
During our hike, we practiced a bunch of recalls. In the photo below, each has raised one paw as they started their sprint to me.
On another recall, R veered off to sniff out rabbits. K is looking at him with great concern. She gets worried whenever her mischievous brother is "naughty".
As the sun sank until it was hovering just above the Continental Divide, I stopped at a favorite lookout point. The low sun was so bright that K couldn't keep her eyes open. Maybe she needs shades!

She mustered a heavy-lidded open eye look for me. I love the mystical light of sunset and sunrise.
Then, just as the sun set, I captured a photo of the contented Duo resting together on a boulder.
Nearby, a robin heralded the end of a day by singing his heart out from a treetop as the sky turned gold.
I agree with the robin. The beauty of our world is worthy of song!


  1. wow, such beautiful photos! love the one getting ready for the recall...
    spring is in the air!

  2. I admire your patience in knowing that you won't be able to retrieve your camera until next year--But until then, you certainly have lots and lots of other great subjects to take pictures of!!

    PS: THANKS for sharing your story about your prowler--Quite scary to say the least--I'm glad you were safe!!!!

  3. The beauty of our world is truly worthy of song!!

  4. i'd love to see K in some sunglasses! :D
    beautiful pictures as always! fingers crossed that spring is there to stay and that you don't get any more surprise snows!

    the booker man and asa's mama

  5. Khyra says if there is a bear in there she will be sorry she missed the nice khytty!

    Great shots!

  6. Hi Y'all,

    Mystical. Morning and evening light offer something special and peaceful for the soul in what often is a somewhat hectic, glaring day.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  7. I just love your photos. They are always wonderful!

    Emma Rose

  8. Great pix as always! There was a show on Animal Planet called Bear Whisperer.
    You follow bear whisperer Steve Searles in Mammoth Lake, CA as he acts as the community bear wrangler -- handling between 20-30 calls a week from panicked residents.
    The thing is, this interesting guy has studied bears, and what he tries to teach them is to be SCARED of humans. This community hasn't killed any bears for many years because the Whisperer drives them back into the wild.

    It was fun to see this guy work.

    Stella (and Jo)

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  10. That does look like a very nice den for some happy bear family!

    Your pal, Pip

  11. I envy you that you were able to get out and enjoy the wonderful weather! We had obligations that kept us pretty busy, so I'm living vicariously through you today!

    K's eyes look like they're lit from inside! Pure magic!

  12. looks like the den has a tenant
    Benny & Lily

  13. The photos of K and R with their paws up is so adorable,.... and the ones of them standing on that cliff,, oh my goodness,,, very STUNNINGLY beautiful.
    I love the way you have learned the best times and places to take photos.
    I am always shocked when I have a photo that really like.
    Someday, I would like to capture the beauty as you do,,,
    The bobcat has such a cute little tail... and I was nervous for you as you looked in the bear den.

  14. Woof! Woof! Great hiking photos. Jealous of your sunny weather. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  15. Wouldn't it be so cool to see K and R sporting some shades. One of the blogs we visit has Anna the GSD wearing some nice ones for an eye problem.

    We just love that shot of K and R with the raised paws - such a handsome photo of both of them.

  16. It's somehow touching that the bears have a special place. Doubly so because you give them the gift of time and solitude to enjoy it. Oh, that there were more like you.

  17. Sunrise and sunset do seem magical somehow...they are my favorite times of day, I think.

    I hope your bears return - having bear updates would be highly appreciated :)

  18. By the way, R looks like he's filling out a bit more - looking stately!

  19. I'm finally catching up, after my Virginia trip, and I wanted to make sure that I let you know how much I have enjoyed your last entries. The bond that you have with K warms my heart. I love it when you write about it. And, the mountain lion! Wow! There's nothing remotely like that around here, not even a bobcat. I so enjoy seeing these glimpses of your world.

    And, on one of the horse forums I visit, we jingle a bit for those who need our thought. So, I send you jingles that your back will quit hurting so badly.

  20. I am learning so much about wild animals through your careful compassion for them. Your dogs are so very fortunate as we are to learn about them. I'm afraid Sophie might just be a bit to boisterous particularly on the first visit...then again she could prove me wrong. She is showing signs of better listening and discerning lately. I will practice recalls more because you just never know when a "situation" might develop.


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