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Friday, June 8, 2012

Coyotes, fire, and eclipse

Our K is continuing to feel pretty good. Her leg doesn't seem to hurt much, and she's enjoying life. At this stage in her disease, that's a victory worth celebrating. We had a gorgeous sunset hike yesterday.

Unfortunately, it included a scary coyote encounter. Since K has started all these pain meds, her responses to my verbal commands have slowed... as if it takes a moment for her brain to process what I said. Well, yesterday evening, four coyotes appeared out of thin air very near us. R was on leash but K was off-leash because I can usually trust her with wildlife. Not yesterday. She chased the pack of silvery coyote ghosts, either not comprehending my calls or choosing to ignore them. When she decides to run, she can be an intense dog, as you can see in the photo below from early May.

Fortunately, K ran out of energy very early in the chase. R and I ran over to save her when there were four coyotes circled around her but still a fair distance from her. I used some evil language as I snarled at the coyotes, saying that they were not going to kill my K. My tone did the job, and they disappeared into the brush. It's amazing how my fearless "Mama Bear" persona can emerge when one of my dogs is in danger. I think that I'll be using a leash with K a bit more until her brain adapts to the new meds.

Back to our trip... Two days ago, I had told you about the morning in the Abajo Mountains when the bear-hunting hounds chased a bear past our campsite to start the day. A little later, I headed out on a solo mountain bike ride. I kept smelling smoke as I rode. At times, it was a strong smell, making me think that it was not just a campfire but rather a forest fire. Because I was riding in canyon country, I usually couldn't see very far to know if a plume of wildfire smoke was visible anywhere near me. Then, I glanced over my shoulder as I descended into a canyon and I saw the scary plume.
I was in a canyon that had only one road in and out of it. Moreover, it appeared as if the fire was between me and our campsite. I turned around my bike and started hammering on my pedals to try to get back to camp. I was seriously scared. The last time that I saw a wildfire plume, it turned into an unthinkably out of control and damaging wildfire. I took this photo on Labor Day 2010 during a mountain bike ride near my house. Believe it or not, the fire had just started. Now that I compare our local fire to the fire in the Abajo mountains, the Abajo fire was tiny by comparison. But, I think that I'll always panic when I see a smoke plume after going through that Labor Day fire, no matter what the size.
As I arrived back at camp, I could see that the fire wasn't far from camp. Yet, in the little clearing where the Runner and the Duo were hanging out, they couldn't see it. I investigated a bit more, and I discovered a "prescribed burn" sign on the 4WD access road. It seems that the Forest Service put up the sign right before starting the fire without warning the people already in the vicinity. Crazy.

Soon, there was ash falling on our campsite. We decided that it was time to leave, especially if we wanted any view of the solar eclipse that was due to start in the next few hours. We drove downward toward the desert, hoping to get below the plume of smoke. At first, it didn't look promising with haze surrounding the mesas.
But, as we arrived on the desert floor, the air cleared. Eventually, from our eclipse viewing site, we could see the fire up on the ridge where we'd been camping but the wind was carrying the smoke away from us. Whew!
We all enjoyed watching the eclipse.
It was an "annular eclipse" so the world didn't become dark at totality. But, to our surprise, it did become cold. I donned a heavy fleece jacket when most of the sun was covered by the moon.
And, it was most gorgeous when the golden sun set behind a ridge with the black moon taking a bite out of it.
We ended up staying in the Abajo mountains for a couple more days, before moving along to a red rock canyon that I adore. K and I relived our "glory days" when she was a one year old dog just learning what it meant to "mountain bike" with me. I'll tell you more about that canyon and our fun there in a future post.

K gave it "one ear up" and a bow of thankfulness that we were given the gift of one more visit together to this beautiful spot!


  1. My new favorite picture of K!

    I totally get the fire/smoke fear thing. The Station Fire in 2009 was in the hills right behind our house. Had the wind been blowing we would have been toast. Literally. A couple of weeks ago as I was getting ready to go to work, I looked out the back and saw a plume of smoke rising behind the hill behind our house. I cancelled my meeting. I think it was a house fire, because it was gone in about 5 minutes, but I have a real respect for wildfires...

  2. Hi Girl! You can go from terrifying (K @ Coyotes) to very happy in a very short space (K bowing in last pic.) Happy that things worked out so very well with you on your trip!

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  3. I can just imagine how scary the coyote encounter must have been. Wildlife can be so unpredictable. They probably didn't appreciate being chased.

    And the "fire" was another scary event even though it was "controlled". I'm sure the smoke didn't help K's lungs any. Our Benji is beginning to cough and wheeze a bit more as of this week. Hope this isn't a bad sign for him. He's still very active and always looking for food.

    Have a nice weekend.

  4. Oh crazy K! I know what you mean about turning into big scary momma bear. I would do the same thing.

    Mango Momma

  5. Very scary encounter. I know coyote will try to draw dogs to them and then circle for the kill. Be careful. Perhaps they can even sense a bit of weakness in K. Perfect eclipse (and Venus shots)!

  6. Hi Y'all,

    Ah, the beautiful glad you were right there to rescue her "mistaken" chase of the coyotes!

    How y'all doin'? Just stoppin' for a visit. Hope y'all have been enjoying a fantastic week and are planning a fun weekend!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  7. LOVE that bow! What a great photo! K is so beautiful. :)

  8. I think I detect a smirk in the last pic -


    Once again, thanks SO much for sharing the incredible pics and mental images!

  9. KB, I well know the fear that fire can bring-when we lived in Ca., we backed up to state open space and more than once watched the fire planes and the flames. I got to where, when I saw fire planes I would go out to see where they were headed. Glad you didn't get caught and that it was a prescribed burn. Also thankful that you were able to scare away the coyotes. I've heard that they will draw a dog away and then attack him or her. Keep enjoying those minutes, hours, days and weeks with your girl.
    Hugs, Noreen

  10. Well that must have scared the heck out of you! It is funny how are Momma protection instincts kick in just like in all animals. Those are beautiful pictures you got of the eclipse and of K. Your trip was definitely one for the memory books!

  11. That Mama-bear instinct can be quite powerful. Glad things turned out so well. (I must admit to a bit of a giggle imagining you sending those coyotes on their way. Of course that giggle came when I knew all was well.)

    I know there is such drought that fires are a major concern, worse this year than most. Fingers crossed here that all of you remain safe.

  12. I can picture your fierce warning to the coyotes. I know when it comes to protecting my animals I will sometimes react in ways that surprise me. I'm glad both the coyote and fire encounters turned out okay.

  13. Your a brave momma! You protected K, and you ment business!
    Thank goodness she tired and you got to her!
    Yet,, she is trying to take care of business too- in trying to chase the coyotes away.
    The thought of a fire,,, is one fear I would panic in!
    The photos of the eclipse are just amazing!
    Just as amazing as our K!

  14. Ann..from..THE OUTER BANKS OF NC.said...There is a lesson to learn in everything that happen and precious K was going to protect her own(oh what spunk she has)beautiful K..and you were there to protect her...I call it victory..when you gain strength courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face..To be scared me when i read it..but I was happy when everything was okay..KB you are incredible and about wildfires ..they scare me too..a-lot can happen when they get out of control..the pictures are beautiful as always..and I am so glad all of you had the chance to enjoy that beautiful spot again It is like K remembered..with her thankful heart ...she is bowing.. so enjoy every moment...big hugs and have a good week-end

  15. Scary about the coyotes. I'm guessing she is on an opiate. Opiates turn off their limiter switch and make them feel like they can take on the world, or a pack of coyotes. eek!

  16. TWO close calls! You guys certainly do "live on the edge"! No wonder K is so TUFF!!!

    I'm happy that all the danger passed and everyone's OK. K actually looks like she's pretty pleased with herself in that last picture!

    I hope you are working on a book...



  17. P.S. LOVE the picture of K wearing the eclipse glasses!!!



  18. Wow that coyote encounter must have been scary. I can't imagine. I am glad that K is doing well right now.
    This is a beautiful post.

    Anne and Sasha

  19. The encounter with the coyotes was scary for you.
    Once again you have posted the most fabulous photos.
    Good to hear that K is feeling good.
    Take care.
    Eileen and Annie x

  20. What a scary experience! We're glad you told those coyotes off, KB!
    We just love that last picture of you, K.

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  21. It is a funny thing but now I don't get as worried about you as I first did when I first started reading your blog.

    You are wixe and cautious so other than the great adventures of the cyotes, the fire and the eclipse, all the incredible photos that went along with it, the last picture of K is what settle in my heart from this post.
    she is a lovely lovely girl and she always makes me smile.

  22. Oh, how we love that last shot of K!!!

    Two very scary happenings! Glad you had your wits about you and were able to come out of both unscathed.

    If you ever find a source for those "maturity" pills, please let us know ASAP:)) Lightning could use a strong dos:)

  23. We've got a lot of coyote's around we are horses are. They can be inquisitive for the most part, but can turn to scary in a heartbeat. I'm glad everything was okay!

    What beautiful pictures of the eclipse.


  24. That last photo of K may be one of my very favorites of her, but there are so many good ones to choose from! I'm glad that nothing happened with the coyotes and that you were able to keep her safe.

    I'm pretty sure smoke plumes would always scare me, too. I don't think you could ever be too cautious on that front. I've heard that it has the potential to be a very bad forest fire season this year, too! Mother Nature is not to be messed with.

    I think your suggestion about Morgan having a job is a good one. I think if it clicked in her brain that she was being helpful, she'd be all about it! I'm going to have to think of a list of things that she can do to help! :)

  25. love all the pics as usual!! love the last one of K especially....:)
    for about a month i was feeling funny about not working i am so happy !
    thanks for the heads up about the word verification....i think i got rid of it...they drive me crazy too! :)

  26. Whew!!! I would of done the same thing!! It's amazing how our instincts will kick in when it comes to protecting our babies! Glad to hear all turned out well:) Love the pic of K in those glasses..classic for sure:)
    ♥hugs to you♥

  27. Lovely pictures! What a view you had. :-) K looks great in glasses!!
    I´m really envy you to have all that spectacular countryside around really is.
    Hugs from us!

  28. Scary stuff with the coyotes!! I would have a "freakout," but it sounds like you handled it like a pro! Love your eclipse photos, and K's one ear up is SO cute!


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