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Friday, May 27, 2011

Mule deer at scent post and San Rafael Swell continued

Before I talk about our desert trip, I must update you on all the crazy animal activity in our forest. It turns out that deer are even less smart than I previously thought. A band of six visited the spot where the huge mountain lion left his scent mark the other night. The deer visit was about 36 hours after the lion's visit, and the group seemed mesmerized by his scent, spending a long time sniffing it.

The first deer arrived...
But soon there was a traffic jam of deer trying to get to the spot that the lion had scraped.
One of them posed for the camera. Soon they began to meander away but didn't seem even vaguely spooked by the lion's scent.
Indeed, one even lingered long after the others to continue to examine the spot. This looks like last year's fawn who still has a few lessons to learn from her elders.
That deer behavior did not even remotely resemble how I expected that deer would react to a mountain lion's scent. Mule deer are the most heavily preyed upon animal by mountain lions. Elk are second on the list. Wouldn't you think that they'd be scared by a mountain lion's scent?

One of my remote wildlife cameras also captured very cute photos of a mother bear and her cubs in a remote part of the forest yesterday evening. I'll share those tomorrow. I love this time of year with all the wildlife activity!
Back to the desert trip, we were in the San Rafael Swell, an area well known for its canyons. We found a canyon wide enough that we could comfortably walk it without having to lift the dogs over any obstacles or climb any huge boulders.

We started our hike at the top of the canyon where it was wide and sunny. The Duo looked funny as they both sampled a scent at the same instant.
That raised snoot look emphasizes how gray K's muzzle became during her horrendous ordeal with the bone infection and toe amputation this past fall and winter. She's still beautiful to me but I hate seeing signs of her getting older.

As long as she keeps her chin down, the gray isn't so obvious!
As we hiked down into the canyon, the walls cast looming shadows.
Rushing water of flash floods has polished the bases of the sandstone cliffs over eons.
The canyon walls towered over us. Notice K at the base of the left wall in the next photo. She's a speck in the geological world.
As the sun set, I found a spot where its rays spotlighted my K. I love how her fur glows in the sunset or sunrise light.
We also found a Claret Cactus in bloom in a sandy alcove off the canyon. The delicate flowers seem shocking next to the sharp spines on the cactus.
After exploring the canyon, we moved to a campsite in the San Rafael Reef. The reef is a Navajo and Wingate sandstone wall on the east side of the formation called the San Rafael Swell. It feels like a reef with the sandy colored walls and sand covered washes.
Selective erosion has left behind the harder rock in some fantastic formations like these towers.
We camped within the Reef during our last night at the San Rafael Swell. We wished that we'd found this special campsite earlier in the trip. You can barely see the top of our van in the photo below.
It was an amazing trip. We explored so much new territory that was unlike anything that we'd walked upon before. I'll have one more post about the trip, and then I'll stop - I promise!


  1. The deer around the lion scent is amazing! Some of our neighbors actually purchase lion dung to spread around the plants and deter the deer.

    Great shots of the dogs and your vacation.

  2. The deer are funny!! You would think they would run instead of do that!! The picture of the duo is so beautiful!! Those canyons make everything look so very small. Please don't stop...I love your pictures very much!! Lots of love, Debbie & Holly (I am feeling 259 years old!)

  3. Hi Y'all,

    Am thoroughly enjoying your trip! That young mule deer does seem to have a great deal to learn.

    The scent perception of various species is so different and almost impossible for humans to comprehend.

    My Human wouldn't survive your winters. We'll be venturing to our mountain soon. Hot there is in the 80's. Most days we don't need airconditioning. Most houses don't have airconditioning.

    Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend!

    Y'all come back now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  4. Geez, I hope those deer wise up and move on soon!

    Those rock formations are AMAZING. The towers almost seem to defy gravity.

    Your pal, Pip

  5. I've enjoyed reading about your trip. No apologies necessary.

    Those rock formations are so interesting, and I love the cactus blooms. And that photo of the duo sniffing the air together is cute. When they stand so close in the same position, they look like a 2-headed dog. ;)

    I hate seeing signs of aging in my dogs too. When Roxie turned just 4, it was like the fur on her face started turning gray overnight.

    Hope you all have a nice holiday weekend!!

  6. Maybe the lion's scent said he'd just had a good meal, or maybe it has deer hypnotizing pheromones in it! lol I wouldn't have expected them to behave like that, either!

    I don't think there's any kind of lighting that doesn't enhance K's beauty! She looks beautiful against those rocks, against the blue sky and in front of green trees and grass. The girl simply has a gift of natural beauty!

    Lilac is okay. The bandage is from her tumble out of the cart last month so that the gash heals up. If we leave it uncovered, she'll lick it raw, and sadly, they were out of her purple vet wrap at the store last time, so she has to sport red.

  7. When your blog comes up, is when I wish I had a bigger monitor. I love your pictures, dogs to lions, all wonderful.

    Cheers and hugs,


  8. Please don't stop! Your trip photos are simply spectacular...but we would expect no less. Odd that deer don't naturally steer clear of the scent, I guess I too, would have expected more survival instincts. We are going to the Gila Wilderness this weekend and shall think of you all as we get a small dose of nature's bounty.

  9. Well, I suppose there is a reason that deer are food animals, right? Poor mountain lion has to catch one now and then. Better it is the idiot teenager who doesn't know enough to stay clear than one of the more intelligent mature breeding animals.

    Mango Momma

  10. Gosh your photos are gorgeous....
    Benny & Lily

  11. Just wanted to thank you for the info re: conundrum...I think a new treat will be the answer because now with Mr. Orangie we can control her. Only when she has the ball in her mouth does she bother people. Now it's time to go find a new treat....looking frwd to this. Again, thanks for the info and I'll be back to read your post, have to go info the big city now!!!! Ron

  12. Please don't worry about stopping your sharing of the trip - we love it!!! Your photos are just amazing. Love that snooters-in-the-air shot of the Duo.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your awsome trip with us. So many of us need to feel this beauty,,, and the only way we can is when someone like you shares it.
    Oh how I wish I could sit near all those rock formatations,, sit for awhile and listen to the quiet.. and forget the world.. it would be medicine to my soul.

    The gray on K is from kisses,, that is all it is,,,

    And if I was a deer,, I would be smarter than those


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