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Monday, July 31, 2017

Milton the Big Black Bear Dances Westward!

Our resident huge male bear, Milton, recently took a long walk westward. I have his favorite route through our neck of the woods nailed - I got lots and lots of photos and videos until he passed out of range of my trail cams.
I am including some of the more notable photos of him here, and I have video footage at the end of the post.

One poor pine sapling has been reduced to a trunk and one small branch by Milton's crazy marking of it over the years. Milton marks this tree more than any other bear.

It's not a tall tree and it's invisible behind him in this photo. It's short enough that he often squats down to rub his back on it.

Then, he reaches back to find the top of the trunk.

At the very end, I imagined that he let out a celebratory whoop - which is why his mouth is wide open in this photo!
As a side note, I took a wild bear behavior course a few years ago. I spent time very close to wild bears, and none had teeth that looked as healthy as Milton's!

After walking another mile or so, he arrived at another favorite marking tree. This one has flourished despite his vociferous dancing while rubbing his back on it multiple times per summer.

During this journey, he was heading generally in the direction where a large male bear was killed the next day. I hope that Milton is okay -- and that he will be back again this autumn like usual. Every summer, our resident male bears disappear at this time of year as they travel far and wide to find food. Thus, I am trying not to worry about Milton. We probably won't see him again for a while even if he is fine.

You can watch the video here or at Youtube.

I'm sending good luck to Milton in his search for food. Most of our early bear foods failed due to crazy weather. However, some berries and many ant colonies are flourishing now so I hope that he can find all the calories that he needs!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Blazing Sunset Sunday

We saw an incredible sunset last weekend while Shyla was in the hospital. It felt so odd to go hiking with just three of us. And then, as soon as I saw the blazing sky, I thought "silhouette"! Then, I remembered that my silhouette model wasn't with us.

We'd decided to go for a hike rather than go visit Shyla in the hospital. The reason was that the vets and techs said that she was very relaxed and outgoing - which is a minor miracle given her fear issues. I'd given them a long list of instructions on "how to handle Shyla's fear", and they said that she'd been remarkably relaxed, even during unpleasant procedures. That report made us think that it would be better for Shyla if we didn't visit and possibly upset her equilibrium.

I must say, though, that I felt that all of our hard work in accustoming her to strangers paid off during her hospitalization!

Now I can truly appreciate the flaming sky colors that we saw on that hike because I know that Shyla is on the mend.

The afternoon was stormy but then a slit of sky opened up just above the Divide to our west. That is the recipe for an amazing sunset show.

The storms have persisted this week. It's actually been nice for Shyla as she's gradually been getting her strength back. She's been doing some biking with me, and the cool weather suits her!
And, if she gets hot, she can duck below the wildflowers to rest in the shade. The flowers are like a forest right now!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Silly Saturday

The Zen moment before the launch


It looks like she has it

Maybe not...

Ruh Roh

Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday is for Mountain Flowers!

We are still in flower season here in the mountains. This meadow is just behind our house.

It's amazing, though, how different the flowers are up high! The bright purple lupines thrive up at higher elevation than our house.

Part of the reason is that the summer starts so much later up there than "down" here at 8200'! We ran into lots of snow on our recent trip. This was at 13,000'.

On south facing slopes up at 13,000', the Columbines were going wild. They grew on talus slopes, which are slopes that appear to be made up entirely of loose rocks. The plants poke their heads up between the rocks.

Every evening at sunset, we went to visit the columbines.

Ah, I just couldn't get enough of them!

Some appeared to be almost bleached white while others had the more traditional wild Columbine look.

I remind myself each day to take some time to enjoy the flowers. We have had such a dry summer that I suspect that there may not be many flowers singing during the second half of summer. 
Even though this last photo is a little "impressionistic", I love the crazy kaleidoscope of yellow flowers.

I took this photo of Shyla in the yellow flowers today. She's getting stronger every day. She did get a secondary infection but it doesn't seem to be bothering her too much. I'll write about what I'm doing to try to prevent such a thing from happening again in a future post.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thankful for our Beautiful World!

We'd just arrived up high in the alpine zone, and Shyla seemed awed the view of the high craggy peaks.

However, she was glad to turn on a dime and sprint to me when I called her.

Some parts of the high country were still covered in thick layers of snow, actually limiting where I could ride my mountain bike.

I am so thankful that our country sees fit to keep some land open and natural, for people and other animals to enjoy.

I hope that we'll be out camping above treeline again, enjoying mellow sunsets, before too long.

Even when we had to go home from our trip earlier than expected, the incredible beauty of the mountains was waiting for us to remind me that there's beauty everywhere.
I love the mountains, and I'm so thankful for every day that I have with our pack up high!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Alpine Vacation Edition

A Glacier Lily - first to bloom after the snow melts

Running through fields of Glacier Lilies at high altitude

A favorite trail that I biked during our trip

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mother and cub - bathing!

My trail cameras picked up lots and lots of footage of bears throughout June until early July. Both big male bears and mother-cub pairs were marching along the Black Bear Trail. I think that this photo is the male bear, Bandit, who demolished one of my trail cams earlier this year.

One of our biggest male bears, Milton, was on a mission, marching east to west over many hours. He marked every single bear marking tree that he passed. Then, he departed the area where I have cams. I'm quite worried about him because he was heading in the general direction of a place where a very large male bear was killed a day later. I doubt that it was him but I will worry until he shows up on my cams again. He's been around since I started using trail cams almost a decade ago.

I plan to make a video of Milton's journey and tree marking but, for now, I wanted to share a photo of him vociferously marking a poor stunted bear tree.
I truly hope that we see Milton again. A lot of bears are getting in trouble in Colorado because our late May snowstorm that followed very warm weather killed a lot of their natural foods. They are turning to human food sources.... so I'll be worrying about all of them.

On a lighter note, our mother bear who has a cub this year has been visiting water holes. I'm not surprised because it's been hot and dry. The two of them want to drink and cool off!

I made a video of their escapades, including some of the most extensive bathing I've ever seen by a bear. The mother bear carefully cleaned her face, behind her ears, and even a paw! The odd thing is that her bath water was the stinkiest of any around here. I don't have a clue why she'd prefer to bathe in that water hole rather than a clean one. I almost gag if I even splash some of the stinky water on my leg while checking my cam!

Here's the video. You can also watch it at Youtube.

Please let all our bears stay safe. For locals, please bring in food sources, and learn from your mistake if a bear does find food at your home. Please don't blame the bear and sentence him or her to death by reporting the bear. Instead, tighten up your defenses so that it doesn't happen again.

Let's take the responsibility on ourselves to keep our bears alive through this very lean period. They are amazing creatures!

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Dog's Summer

A very tired Shyla is snoozing next to me. I'm so glad to have her home but we won't be doing any of this for a little while.
That photo was from our recent trip up to higher altitude. She was galloping up a slope with huge snowy mountains behind her and wildflowers under her paws.

One lesson that dogs teach me, whether I like it or not, is to value each day because their lives are short. A single summer is a huge fraction of a dog's life because they often get fewer than ten summers in their lives.

We will be back to the mountains again soon. We won't let a dog's summer pass without much more time spent frolicking above treeline.
In the meantime, Shyla will continue to sleep and snore, every so cutely, as her body heals.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Happy Happy Sunday

Shyla is home. The bone pieces have passed through her without incident. She has some fragments left to pass but the vets thought that she was ready to come home!

Thank you all for your kind comments.
It's a happy Sunday here in Colorado!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Shyla is in the hospital

Our sweet Shyla has landed in the hospital after an unauthorized visit to a deer carcass. I saw her nose go up and that special tension that ripples through her muscles when she smells something irresistible. Unfortunately, despite my big efforts to teach her to come to me in these situations, she didn't.
Instead, she went to the carcass. She ate meat and bones. The bones are the problem. The vet hospital is monitoring as the bone shards (hopefully) move through her system. They're also pumping her full of fluids and watching closely in case of the very bad emergency of a shard puncturing the GI tract.

Some dogs might have surgery in this situation but, given Shyla's epilepsy, anaesthesia is more dangerous than for most dogs.

We'll keep you posted as we know more. We do know that she'll be in the hospital at least until mid-day Sunday.

Silly Saturday - Wake Up!!!

Wake up! There's a block of cheese flying through the air near you!

If you're fast enough, you might snarf it like Shyla did!
Happy Silly Saturday!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Alpine Flower Friday

Although our trip to the alpine zone was shorter than expected, we did get to see some spectacular flowers that flourish above treeline.

Shyla leaped over a patch of yellow flowers when we were just below 13,000'. 

I spotted a cluster of Sky Pilots amidst a boulder cluster. Sky Pilots are glorious purple flowers that I love to see.

They have a stinky way of keeping ants away - they smell like skunks!

I had lots of fun with the densest cluster of these flowers that I've ever seen, photographing them from every angle.

Of course, Shyla wanted me to get moving again. As you can see behind her, the snow wasn't completely melted yet. However, the exposed ground seemed quite dry despite the recent snow melt.
Believe me, that dryness was about to be remedied. Within a few days, the rains were upon us. The flowers loved it!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thankful Thursday - Past and Present

We recently had a significant date for me - it was the date that two of my best dog friends died, in different years. Fourteen years ago, Acadia died on July 15. Her successor, my chocolate angel K, died exactly nine years later.

Each dog teaches me a whole new world of things about dogs, myself, and love. I miss both of them terribly. The loss of K, more recently, still pierces my heart when I realize, yet again, that she's gone from my daily life forever.

But I don't forget to revel in the lives of R and Shyla, our current sweet Duo.

I'm thankful for every one of our dogs - they make me smile.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wordy Wednesday - An Attempted Vacation

We recently tried to take a trip to the high mountains. It was a comedy of errors. We made it to a great campsite...
Within the first 24 hours after leaving home, I had the good fortune of meeting one of my virtual friends and her dog. I took out a camera to take a photo when I met her but then I left the camera on the roof of her car. Despite lots of effort by her to retrace her route and contact every lost and found in town, it was gone forever.

Then, we drove to the nice spot shown in the first photo. I headed out for a bike ride. When I tried to shift gears, my chain jumped into my spokes, breaking everything in its path. It broke enough spokes to totally destroy the wheel. I wasn't smiling at that point.

So, 24 hours led to a lost (and probably destroyed) camera/lens and a destroyed bike wheel. At least I met my friend and her dog!!!! That was the one bright spot in that day.

The generous Runner owns the same model of bike as I do. He rapidly donated his rear wheel to my bike, and then spent hours helping me fix myriad other problems that had suddenly emerged with my bike. We replaced the chain and the front chainring before we returned the bike to an operational state.

Shyla and I did go out for a ride within that first 24 hours (just before sunset). Yipee!
What was going to be a 10 day trip was shortened by endless bad luck. However, I'll save the rest of the bad luck for another post!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Happy, happy summer!

I love summer, and it's flying by way too fast! We've been spending time in the high mountains, enjoying the cool thin air.

And the Duo have been leaping into lakes.

Very little makes me smile as much as watching them play like puppies!
Happy Summer from our high mountains to your favorite summer place!