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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A bear in the desert

Winter is here, at least for the moment. The desert trip from last weekend seems like a distant memory.
"They" say that we'll have 10-20" of white stuff on the ground by tomorrow evening.

I'll ignore the snow for a moment and, instead, I'll remember the warm sun on my bare arms and legs as I relaxed in the desert.

The area where we visited has a maze of beautiful singletrack trails that wend among cliffs and canyons. It was gratifying to see how much K has improved since we visited this desert oasis last May. On that visit, her paw was still weak from the toe amputation, and her activity was severely limited. Not this time. She ran each day, and even played wildly with a young pup named Bubba who we met.
K got a serious case of the zoomies as she, R, and Bubba chased each other in the desert grass at sunset. Even after that wild flurry of play, K's paw didn't get sore. Yahoo!
Some of my bike rides were too long for a dog to come along. On one, I started before anyone else had been on the trails. The trails consisted of firm sand, perfect for tracking. I immediately dropped my bike and started cataloging the animals, including lizards, kangaroo rats, coyotes, snakes, a bobcat, and a BEAR!
When I spotted the bear tracks, I immediately swerved to avoid messing them up with my tire tracks, and stopped to check that they were truly bear tracks. Bears don't usually hang out in the desert. And, this particular slice of desert was penned in by the Colorado River on one side and Interstate 70 on the other side. It seemed like a very unlikely place for a bear to be ambling on the trails.

You can see three bear tracks in the photo below. One is near the very bottom of the photo, one is in the middle, and another is near the top.
The bear tracks were fairly large.The Gu container in the photo below was 4.25" long, and the hind foot track was about twice that. That makes me think that it was a fairly big bear. He was heading toward the Colorado River. Swimming the river would have landed him in suitable bear territory. I wonder if that's what he did? It looked like a tough swim to me.
At first, I thought that he might be eating acorns from the scrub oak that grew in the washes of the desert. The oak had gorgeous red leaves but the acorns were gone.
After a quarter mile or so, the bear headed straight up a rock cliff so I stopped tracking him and headed out toward the river. I followed a beautifully constructed trail that paralleled the contours of the cliffs above the river.
You can see the green and yellow trees lining the river in the distance in the photo below. The trail followed a much less direct route than the river, winding along curvy cliffs.
As I rode, my eyes constantly sought the beauty of the river and the autumn colors along side it. Can you visualize a bear swimming across that wide but calm river? I'm told that a bear probably can do it but I find it hard to visualize.
The beauty of our world never stops astounding me.


  1. Of course, you know the pup here would love some of that snow, but I have to agree with you, the sun on bare arms has to be so delightful.

    Amazed as always at your beautiful photos.

    BTW, Lightning has made his way to the sofa only twice, he is a lot like Phantom, seems to prefer the hardwood floor - silly boy:)

  2. K looks so much stronger and healthier today....
    Benny & Lily

  3. All K needs is a sleigh bell collar in that first picture and she'd be ready to be a Christmas calendar shot!

    That's some bear! Maybe he heard snow was coming to the mountains and decided he'd rather skip hibernating and take a vacation to the south instead!

  4. Oh wow enjoy the snow

    Stop on by for a visit

  5. I heard on the radio tonight that you would get 20 inches of snow tonight,,, WOW!
    It is beautiful and amazing how the mother earth can stir things so fast!
    I do see the bear food tracks.. its big and fat!
    Such a beautiful world, such a beautiful K. I would love to just sit and look at the beauty too. We are happy you all had that special time together!

  6. Love all the pics, but the last two are my favorites! Because you were there and saw the river up close, you are a better judge of what the bear could do. But from where I am looking it looks like it would be a piece of cake for a bear to get across. Enjoy your SNOWZ! I hope we stay dry for a month or so.


    Jo, Stella and Z'chat

  7. Beautiful area. Bubba sure is cute, it looks like they all had a great time. Snow is always so pretty when it first comes, but this year I'd take a little more warm weather.

  8. Not such an unimagineable swim, really. The gentle color shift of autumn is a stark contrast to winter's shove of white into your home!

  9. That looks like one big bear! Holy cow! Does his print look larger than any you've seen at home?

    I've been to the canyon areas in Utah and absolutely loved them. Would like to go back some day.

    Yes, it is an amazing world and K looks fantastic running so free in it. :)

  10. Hi Everybuddy, wow we can't believe the difference in the weather. Your friend Bubba looks like a great buddy. We agree, the world is beautiful, especially when you share it with us with your photos. Thanks heaps. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

  11. What a wonderful contrast between the first snow flakes and the dry painted canyon. I love the picture of K and B playing with their new friend Bubba.

    Your pal, Pip

  12. WOW - great photos as usual.

  13. You snow pictures made me smile:)but they also made me a little cold:)

  14. Wow, I just love the scenery - with those rocks! Gorgeous....


  15. WOOHOO for snow pics, I am a northerner at heart and actually love the snow. To me, snow on a chocolate lab's fur is a beautiful sight indeed. Love it - I am so ready for thos white flakes to fall.

  16. 20"????? That's crazyness!!!!! Love the snow pics! K looks beautiful!

  17. K's snow fotos are beOOtiful!
    Comin' here always makes me smile. :)

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  18. Hi Y'all,

    If y'all come east, K, you and R will have to have a serious zoomie case with me! What fun, what fun!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  19. Love the photos of the dogs! Isn't it amazing the desert can put on an autumn show as beautiful as the mountains?

  20. Beautiful indeed, and what a change of pace you've experienced in weather and scenery! I love the photos of fresh snowflakes on K. So pretty!


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