Training hike

That blue dot is my location overlooking the confluence of he Yellowstone River and Bear Creek.
That blue dot is my location overlooking the confluence of he Yellowstone River and Bear Creek.

Burt went off on his annual backpack in Yellowstone with his lifelong buddy and I stayed home with the canine troop this weekend. It was a wet and cold time for all parties. The gNash furnace died last year and so now we use a Mr. Heater Buddy, a portable propane heater. Buddy is not a very reliable friend. He gives off an hour of heat and then the super sensitive oxygen monitor cuts off the burn. Day one was in the low thirties and I had only an hour of heat at bedtime and an hour in the morning. I stayed warm with dog sleeping companions and a steady stream of cooking.

Day two Sue and I met up for an afternoon hike during a gap in the rain. We had a glorious walk across the plateau west of Daley Lake. That evening me and the dogs piled into bed together again and kept our spirits up with rumors of a break in the rain the next day.

Today the reprieve showed up around 11:00 AM. I ate some egg salad and gathered everyone up for a hike. Before Burt left I joked I was going to stay warm boiling one egg at a time, all day long. It was almost that bad but it was tea, spaghetti, toast…and eggs. The day’s hike was also suggested by Burt before he left. He thought I should follow the trail off Jardine Road down to the confluence of Bear Creek and the Yellowstone River. His idea was that the trail passes through wide open country and I should be able to see any bears from a long distance. The down side is it is a hike into a hole. A deep hole.

With afib I try to avoid hikes into holes. The advantage to an uphill start is if I run into trouble I can always turn around and head down. If I have an afib attack and the only way home is up, I could be in a bit of trouble. Funny thing about how the world is laid out but most hikes start up hill. At least in the places we hang. So I weighed bears and holes and decided to take my chance with the hole.  A also decided to give super-Elvis a chance to show the world he’s still tough. It all worked out great. No weird heart beats and Elvis made it up down without incident. We did 1500′ in 4.5 miles in about 2.5 hours. And more wonderful weather. I’m feeling hopeful that I can make it up to the Goshutes bird viewing area. That’s 2000′ in 2 miles up to 10,000′. It will be tough. Here’s the stuff we saw.

Burt is back safe and sound. They stayed warm and dry on their three day camp.

The three musketeers and my shadow.
The three musketeers and my shadow.
Snake skin near the trail
Snake skin near the trail
Rock flake.
Rock flake.
Earwig
Earwig
Jaw erosion on this old elk.
Jaw erosion on this old elk.
Worn teeth and jaw erosion.
Worn teeth and jaw erosion.
Looking into Yellowstone
Looking into Yellowstone
Looking down Bear Creek.
Looking down Bear Creek.

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Grizzlies on my trail

The hills around Jardine are prime grizzly country but this summer there’s been hardly a sign these giant beasts that live amongst us. Bears are on the increase all over western Montana and with that there are more reports of bear/human contact. Nearly every walk beyond the confines of our yard I strap on the orange and black canister of bear spray. I admit on a couple of occasions I have absentmindedly left it at home and it always made me queasy when I realized it was just me and the small dogs if we had a chance encounter with Bruno. The bear thoughts were there on every walk despite only one scat and two footprints for scores of hikes. I had those dreadfully lovely feelings of wanting to see a bear but only far away or from in the car. I’d started to feel like I wasn’t getting the full Yellowstone experience if I didn’t see at least one fuzzy butt running away from me before we left.

Proper self-defense requires physical skills and mental preparation. Even though I no longer actively participate in a martial art or self-defense training I still frequently think of the things I’ve learned. Many skills are hard wired like riding a bike. Knee to groin, fist to face…those will come out without thought. I also had the privilege of some hand gun training from a federal law enforcement instructor when I ran in law enforcement circles. For a few years I practiced drawing, aiming, shooting even though I never owned or carried a hand gun. Gun safety when there are guns around is important and so I was given the knowledge. So pepper spray…as a fairly knowledgeable person on these matters it always troubled me that we’re just supposed to pick up a can of spray and know how to use it properly. Since I couldn’t spray without wasting my expensive gas and, most likely, causing myself great physical discomfort (I have been hit by both a leaky canister and a ditz with mace in a restaurant, so I know) the only way to prepare was read and visualize. So I did and do. Remove safety. Wait until the bear is very close. Fire. I practiced removing the safety. It’s tricky with my arthritic fingers. My friend Sue had the chance to practice at one of MT FWP’s training seminars. Faux charging bear and all. I watched the video. That bear moves fast. She told me she learned this helpful hint: Aim for the feet because the gas rises. Also bring soap to clean yourself up afterwards. Because you will get it on you. I’m not going to carry soap. I’ll suffer. Of course, before any of this you want to try to avoid meeting a bear and failing that try to scare the bear away.

Yesterday Burt decided to walk with me. We’ve only shared a handful of walks this summer. Burt’s been very busy working. So it was unusual to have him and Elvis along. Normally it’s just me and the Chalive. The three of us alone are no good at making peremptory noise to give bears the chance to leave and Burt added to the equation is no better. When Burt and I hike we are usually a quarter mile apart. And Burt talks everywhere but on a walk. He’s a creeper in the forest. We try to talk but we just can’t sustain it. We’re natural hunters. So there we were: Olive and Chava twenty feet ahead of me, Burt and Elvis a few hundred yards behind. We were only 10 minutes from the trail head, 15 minutes from the gNash. The trail is a persistent but not steep uphill cut into a steep hillside. The land drops away on one side and the other side is a steep upwards slope. Passing other travelers (horses, anyone?) can be awkward because there’s little land to move. Generally there are no other travelers. It’s very quiet up here.

I rounded a curve in the trail with the Chalive and heard some gentle rustling. There’s a lot of gentle rustling up here. Juncos and ground squirrels are the norm. Not yesterday. Just ahead and slightly above me, maybe 40 to 50 feet away was a great grizzly. A superb grizzled silvery sow was right before my eyes. The dogs didn’t see her but she saw them and she saw me. And then I saw her two yearling cubs. Yearlings are nearly as big as mom this time of year. I was face to face with three big bears. I was relieved to see the cubs were on the same side of the trail as momma bear. We were not caught in the most dangerous situation between mom and cubs. As the sow turned to look over her shoulder to see where her cubs were I began yelling and that canister of spray was in my hand with the safety off aimed right at her. I did not pull the trigger. I knew she was too far away and that she would likely flee.  She turned her ginormous moon face back at me and gave me a good bye glance and headed up hill with the kids on her ass. It was so steep they hardly got a start before the dogs realized they were there. With the bears’ sudden movements Olive and Chava caught on and took off in pursuit. I switched from yelling from BEAR BEAR BEAR BEAR to NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. And I thought why did Burt have to tell me about dogs turning bears around and leading them back to their screaming owners? What was going to happen?

Burt quickly arrived and I was still screaming. The bears had just ducked over a small flattish area above our heads. The threesome was heading in the direction we had come. Olive and Chava were just reaching the spot where the bears had disappeared from view. Would it be an ambush? Was this the moment the bears would turn and come back our way? Now Burt and I were both yelling NONONONONONO. The dynamic duo stopped at the edge. There was a dramatic pause and then they came back to us with no bears in tow. What changed their minds? Was momma on the other side of the lip glaring at them? Or was the hill too steep and they too lazy? They aren’t talking.

With the bears headed towards town we decided to continue our walk only now we walked as a compact noisy quintet. I sang songs loudly and poorly. If the volume didn’t ward off the bears the missed notes would. While I was not scared during the face-off, the walk home through the area where we knew the bears to be was nerve wracking. I jumped out of my skin when a junco flew out of some grass at my feet. In fact, nearly 24 hours later, Olive scared me just by rearranging herself on the bed as I write this. No walk today. I’m telling myself it’s because its 40 and raining.

It was thrilling to see the bears. I can leave this area satisfied. It was also thrilling to remove the canister and have that safety off without a conscious thought. Be prepared. And, no, there are no pictures. All eyes were on the bears. All hands were on the weapon.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Northward to Jack but not all the way there.

My visa
My visa

We finally got out of Tucson with plans to head north and see Burt’s dad Jack. Jack will be 90 this January. Our dog Elvis has caught up to Jack in relative age. They both limp and can’t hear so well but have their faculties. We try to handle both with care and respect. The leaving of Tucson was a bit drawn out because we had a leaky trailer tire and we could’t find a place that could fit us or fix us. Eventually we landed at a tire shop on the north end of town. I walked a nearby shopping center for most of the two hour wait. When we finally cut loose we headed to a place called Kaiser Canyon in search of another hot spring. We made it through rush hour Phoenix traffic and made it to a rest area just south of Wickenberg for the night.

Kaiser Canyon is northwest of Phoenix between there and Las Vegas. It has a nice campground and we were relieved to find it after the trials of the day before. We arrived early enough in the day to park and then head out on the hike and look for the hot spring. If you haven’t noticed, Burt’s been on a bit of a hot springs mania this fall. Our route to Jack had a bunch of promising spots to keep the drive entertaining. Kaiser Hot Springs was spot number one on the list of potentials.

While the hot spring was only mildly interesting it was not a slimy, gross, smelly, trashed spot. So I’ll give it a thumbs up even though I did not bother to go in. Burt suggested it might be a long time to my next shower and even then I didn’t bother. The water was luke warm and, after a breach of the walls by Elvis, shallow. I did not feel like wallowing in 18″ of tepid water. The sand was gritty and besides my heroic reconstruction efforts were the only thing keeping any water behind the walls so Burt could enjoy himself. I shoveled. He soaked.

I enjoyed the scenic hike and fun birds enough to be able to say the hike alone was worth the stop. There was a mine and some wild burro sign and hooded mergansers and a nice oasis. The water was attracting a lot of wildlife.

Early the next day we discovered our propane regulator had died. After ten years of service the regulator called it quits. We first noticed a problem the day before when the refrigerator was on FAIL. We hoped it was just because we hit a big bump in the road because it restarted without difficulty. The next day the fridge went down again and then the stove flame dropped to a flicker. The propane tanks were full so we deduced the regulator. Regulators are projected to last ten years and ours had read the rules and bailed as predicted. For the last couple of years we’ve been saying, “We should pick up a spare regulator.” Did we? No. So there we were without cooling or heating and hungry. It was a Sunday but I was able to google a RV repair shop open on Sunday in Kingman so off we went.

Cordova RV repair was out of town and when we pulled up it seemed like we might get shot easier than finding a repair guy. As I dialed the number Eric Cordova ran out and assured us we were in teh right place and he was happy to help. “I charge, you know,” he said to seal the deal. Well, I hope so. The weather had shifted towards winter and I stayed in the truck while Burt dealt with our hyper repair man. The dogs and I played with the internet and Burt supervised the regulator repair.  The bill came to $91 for labor and materials. It was worth it but it was also another example that Burt and I need to diversify into RV repair. The regulator was easily replaced. I could have done it had I had the spare regulator we’d talked about for two years. The Gypsy RV Repair coming soon.

So here we were off the beaten track and more hours of winter daylight lost to repair. Our trek to Jack was slow to launch. Three days in and we hadn’t left Arizona. Instead of hitting the highway we took a back road over to see the wild burros of Oatman, Arizona. Route 66 you own us.

Dude in a hot spring
Dude in a hot spring

 

 

Kaiser and Burro canyons intersect here.
Kaiser and Burro canyons intersect here.
Spider with egg.
Spider with egg.
Duck weed
Duck weed
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Portal Rodeo Hiking Club

Lunch on Fly Peak
Lunch on Fly Peak

Thursday morning the Portal Rodeo Hiking club met just as it has for several decades. The proposed hike was up on the Crest Trail high above our meeting place at the Silver Peak Trailhead. At 8:00 AM Arizona time the prospects looked wet. The recent cold wet weather meant the Crest Trail on the Chiricahuas might be full of snow or wet and cold. The group pondered some lower hikes considering. I was hoping to go high regardless but kept my mouth shut since I was just passing through. I figured the regulars should decide where they wanted to hike. Luckily, Al said let’s go up. It could be great up there. I and a couple others said, “Yes!” and the momentum shifted to taking our chances up high. We piled back into cars and headed up the mountain road.

I was in the lead vehicle with Rolf and Carol and we saw a flock of turkeys cross the road as we neared Rustler Park. I love seeing a big band of turkeys running through the trees. They are the dinosaurs of today. Up top all was well. The sun was shining and the clouds below added drama to the landscape. The warming air brought out all the critters looking for a spot of sun. We saw spiny and bunchgrass lizards, a tarantula, and a twin spotted rattlesnake. It’s breeding season for the spiny lizards so they were showing off their finest push-ups. Also seen were five Border Patrol Agents on foot looking for a rumored someone.

Our group bagged Fly Peak and had lunch as the wind shifted and socked us in. We’d gotten all the blue skies we were going to get that day. You can see the wall of fog behind us in the photo above. Moments later we were in the mists. It was time to head down. On a personal note this was a big day. My new medicine allowed me to hike 7 miles above 9,000′. I struggled a bit going up hill but I made it. Flats and downhill were easy. I was wearing my brand new fit bit and it was very pleased with my efforts.

Fog below and blue skies above
Fog below and blue skies above
Bunch grass lizard. Just a new baby.
Bunch grass lizard. Just a new baby.
Tarantula
Tarantula
Two males displayed while this female discretely checked them out.
Two males displayed while this female discretely checked them out.
Here's a male trying to impress the female. He's got to do his push-ups just right or she'll ignore him.
Here’s a male trying to impress the female. He’s got to do his push-ups just right or she’ll ignore him.
Trail maintenance
Trail maintenance
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Cramming in the work and fun

Kitchen
Kitchen minus the island.

The new kitchen is nearly done. The modern cabinets are installed and we are waiting for the counter and appliance delivery. After that it’s just a faucet and touch-up paint. Work continues in the master bathroom. This week we’ll install a heated floor and finish laying tile. Soon after it will be time for the vanity install and counters. After all that we’ll be on our knees for a few too may days installing the engineered flooring in the living room, master bedroom, powder room, entry, and laundry room. I’m going to need a tylenol.

Last night we hiked with a friend at Priest Pass just southwest of Helena. The pass is so named because 19th century Jesuits left behind a stone cross embedded in the hillside. I like going up there to see the remains of the narrow gauge railroad that served as temporary route over the continental divide while they built a tunnel. There’s also an old adit and miner’s shack. Mine and railroad spur were abandoned before the 20th century started. The trestle has stood strong for over 100 years but now time and beetle killed trees are conspiring to bring it down. Yesterday we found ripe huckleberries and whortleberries and a trio of through hikers. The through hikers had started at or near the border with Mexico and were only a week or so away from arriving in Canada. Our friend John shared some homegrown cherry tomatoes and pea pods. He works for Helena Food Share so he knows how to share food. I ate my snack of cold fried spaghetti and dodn’t offer a bite to anyone. That’s how I am.

I hope your summer is full of excursions and interesting people, too.

Range hood detail
Range hood detail
Continental Divide Trail
Continental Divide Trail
Through hikers enjoying fresh veggies John happened to be carrying.
Through hikers enjoying fresh veggies John happened to be carrying.
Flea bane
Flea bane
The three-spotted mariposa lily.
The three-spotted mariposa lily.
Juvenile red cross bill
Juvenile red cross bill
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Up in the Wild

Old Ranch near Babisal
Old Ranch near Babisal

Babisal Ranch is at the heart of the Norther Jaguar Project’s reserve. The cows are long gone but the original structure is used as a kitchen and two new adobe and stone guest rooms have been added. Burt and I will turn an old water tank into a third guest room. Year round these facilities are used by cowboys and biologists and other visitors. Overflow people stay in tents or hammocks. On this trip Burt and I scored a cabin of our own. The beds are traditional rancho cots made from burlap suspended between two Xs. With a Thermarest pad the bed is pretty comfortable but it moves a lot and the motion made me a little queasy. More Galapagos training I told myself.

Our group consisted of two donors, Mark and Monica, a photographer, Charles, us, and Randy and Turtle, NJP’s staff/guides. After the 12 hours of driving Burt and I headed straight to bed after dinner and didn’t really get a good look at our companions. We were grateful for the warm food and welcome gifts of NJP hats and personal napkins. In the morning we had some more filling and tasty vegan food and then piled in a pickup for a nearby hike.

All seven humans and three dogs rode up the steep mile or so to another defunct ranch. We would hike up the a tight, wet canyon and pass some camera traps and see what some people consider the spiritual heart of the reserve. In fifteen bumpy minutes we reached our starting point. The abandoned ranch buildings were full of wood perfect for our project. It will be fun to deconstruct and reconstruct out in the wilderness. The old wood will look beautiful in a new situation.

Pretty quickly we reached a camera trap. Randy and Turtle removed the data chip and tried to find a camera that could reveal its secrets. There are a few different models of cameras in use at the reserve and they all have their own way of formatting chips. Luckily our third and last try at reading the chip was successful. The chips and batteries are changed out every one to three months. Since this particular trap’s chip had been changed four mountain lions, a few bobcats, and an ocelot had passed by the trap. The ocelot passed just the day before we did. Smiles all around thinking the ocelot was nearby watching us. As Randy says, I haven’t seen a jaguar but I know they’ve seen me. I like that feeling.

Our walk to the canyon wasn’t more than half an hour. We could have gone further but we didn’t feel like swimming and mud crawling so we sat around and enjoyed the scene. I visited the spiders. Snacks and water and getting to know you conversations were had by all. After people were satisfied with the hanging around we had a choice, return home by the trail we had taken in or canyoneer our way down canyon. We chose the adventure route. It was pretty rough going but Randy was a competent guide and very able assistant. Burt and I did fine on our own. We mostly traveled ahead of the group. It took us much longer to reach the truck going down the boulder filled stream bed but it was also more fun. The dogs have a different version. One ran home on the trail. Another was lifted through the worst spot. The third either jumped or fell twenty feet into a pool. She was not happy. Eventually it was just a stream bed and we all dispersed. Burt and Randy went to inventory wood and I wandered downstream alone.

At the truck point we all reunited. Burt and I opted to avoid the truck bed for the downhill jostle and walked back to camp along the stream. It was a tussocky and watery route back. It was noticeable that there were not a lot of birds. When we finally reached camp it was time for lunch and a siesta.

That evening we took a silent sunset walk. We heard an elf owl. Or was it pygmy? I’ve forgotten. Tracks were seen in the creek bed sand. Quail flew up. We thought they were scaled quail but they were Elegant Quail. Similar but not the same. Dinner and bed.

The trap camera showed us an ocelot had passed by the day before.
The trap camera showed us an ocelot had passed by the day before.
Boulder crawl down the canyon.
Boulder crawl down the canyon.
Our room.
Our room.
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Work and walk

Perching rock
Perching rock

Climate Change factoid of the day: Warmer air holds more moisture than cooler air. I’ll spare you the why. The results are more downpours and less drizzle. Obviously this hurts the brain a bit when you think ‘but droughts are worse.’ Indeed they are. The change is in the how much and where the rain is falling. Bridges, storm sewers, roads need to be designed to handle large rain events. Agriculture has it’s own problems.

By downpour we mean a lot of precipitation in a short period of time.

Life on the rancho in Templeton is sweet. Nice walking abounds. The internet works fine. The clients feed and walk us. I finished my first week’s course work in a day. The presenters estimated 3-4 hours of reading and video watching per week and I got it done. I passed all my quizzes, too. After that I dealt with the IRS.

Our mail came (thanks, Sue). It was full of dog treats and dog drugs left over after Sue and Jay’s dog Scotty flew to the other side. Scotty lasted a long time and he was ready to see what lay beyond the rainbow bridge. Elvis will benefit from Scotty’s pain pills and anxiety meds. I’d like to believe Elvis is going to last a long time but he hates pain. Maybe the pills will convince him to stick around. Also in the mail was a hilarious letter from the IRS. If you’ve been following along you might remember I couldn’t file our taxes electronically because the IRS could not identify our identity. After much email searching and some lengthy holds and calls with the TurboTax and IRS I finally submitted our taxes in paper. I felt so old and wasteful. Retro. This month the IRS’s suspicions were raised by our paper submission. I had to call them to prove it was really me that filed the taxes. Really.

I don’t know what to think. I spent 25 minutes on hold and then another 20 minutes proving I was who I said I was to the IRS. Eventually my service technician said she was as perplexed as I was. I mean who would be impersonating me by filing taxes? Next year I’d like to pay someone to impersonate me and do my taxes. It did occur to me that this was some kind of IRS investigation into my taxes. Like, maybe, they want me to say I did it cause I did it wrong. Well, if that’s true, I did do it but I did my best to do it right. If I accidentally did it wrong we’ll just have to deal with that but first you’ll have to prove it was me being me and not some other person pretending to be me here and on the phone. Got that?

The other day we took a walk to the Harmony Headlands. This path to the ocean was littered with regurgitated pellets. I must have seen over 100. The number was impressive but so was the location. Normally pellets accumulate under a birds perch. An owl will catch and eat a mouse and then fly off to digest. A while later the owl belches up the nasty bits. Pellets can be fun to investigate. The pellets we found were sitting in the open on a path with no perches above. Meanwhile rodents and lagomorphs were everywhere. Rabbits peered out from the bushes. Gopher holes dotted the landscape. Fat and I presume happy birds of prey soared over hear. I saw a golden eagle on the drive in and the northern harriers put on a spectacular flight show. The area looked barren but it was surging with life in a circle of eat or be eaten.

Imitation rabbit.
Imitation rabbit.
Regurgitated pellet full of rodent bones.
Regurgitated pellet full of rodent bones. Birds of prey regurgitate the indigestible fur and bones.
A triad at the Harmony Headlands.
A triad at the Harmony Headlands.
Gopher mummy.
Gopher mummy.
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Puerto Viejo visit

The view east from the Pacific to the Sierra de la Laguna.
The view east from the Pacific Ocean to the Sierra de la Laguna.

Here are a couple of pictures from our hike to Puerto Viejo or Old Port. When this area produced commercial amounts of sugar cane the shipments left via rowboat at this port. Large shipping vessels anchored off shore. There are bits of old infrastructure to admire such as the stone quay and dry set rock fences and roads and even the remnants of a turtle cannery but I am always blinded by the dramatic landscape. Here the last vestiges of the mountains crash into the sea. Sea lions blubber about on the rocks below while verdin, black throated sparrow, and a cactus wren sing courtship songs. Sometimes the wind carries the sea lion’s grunts and groan all the way up to our perch. The cardon cactii stand watch like lighthouses on cliff edges.  The palo verde, nipped by the harsh salt wind, grows close to the ground with octopus like tentacles.

Traditionally visitors approached this area from the north but a recent hotel development has caused confusion (putting it mildly) and animosity about access. Guards and scary looking dogs patrol the area now and a massive amount of vital mangrove habitat was destroyed, threatening the endangered Belding’s Yellowthroat. Best to steer clear even if the road is open. We decided to see what the walk was like from the south and found it to be easy and rather more pleasant because we could avoid all views of the unsightly hotel and its environmental destruction. Yes, our heads are firmly in the sand. From where we parked and walked there was very little evidence of the massive development all around. The area remains a very wild pocket, one of the last, between Todos Santos and Cabo San Lucas. Scat all around and game trails onto sheer cliff faces indicated coyotes and/or bobcats make regular excursions into the deep canyons.  I hope the area stays protected.

Recently I took my rings in to a guy to be resized. Abel works in an 8′ by 8′ space behind a rack of shoes in Todos Santos. I showed him my rings and asked if he could resize them. He wondered why since they appeared to fit fine and I explained that when I exercise my fingers swell and recently they were swelling so much the rings hurt my hands. I was worried he wouldn’t be able to resize them because one is white gold and the other is palladium but it was easy. Right then and there he put them on a thingy and beat them with a hammer. Beat, check, beat, check. Twenty minutes later they were cleaned polished and just a little but bigger. Thank you, Abel.

Burt and Elvis admire the view.
Burt and Elvis admire the view.

The cliffs above Puerto Viejo. The headlands are bwtween las Palmas, San Pedrito, and Cerritos beaches.

Abel the jeweler of Todos Santos.
Abel the jeweler of Todos Santos.
Abel resized my rings.
Abel resized my rings.
Anahomy and her landscape of the rocky end of the Baja Peninsula.
Anahomy and her landscape of the rocky end of the Baja Peninsula.
A change in local politics has us locked out of our classroom. Somebody didn't get the memo.
A change in local politics has us locked out of our classroom. Somebody didn’t get the memo.
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Burrowing Owl

Santo Domingo hike
Santo Domingo hike. Salty and Elvis.

We went for a late afternoon walk in the hills with our Montana buddies Aldo and Bequia yesterday. Huge discovery of two burrowing owls on the road as we drove home. The owls were very patient and allowed us all a good look through the binoculars while Burt shined a flashlight. Burrowing owls live underground and prefer to stay close to the ground. They have long legs for walking. Here in baja this species is easy to identify because the other owls are either much bigger or much smaller or have long ears. The squatty head is also a clue to who it is. I played the iBird call but didn’t receive a response. I guess they weren’t fooled.

Burt heads into the mountains on a guided hike Wednesday AM. I’ll be holding down the fort around here alone. I just landed a paying gig as a backup singer so I’ll also be doing that while he’s gone. Side work is a good thing.

IMG_6485
Burrowing owl outside its burrow. Those long legs are for walking.
Bequia on the hike.
Bequia on the hike. That skinny dog at her feet lives on the rancho. He could use some more food but he’s in good health.
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Exploratory Drive

It was so inviting even I went in.
It was so inviting even I went in.

Burt pulled out the map and said, “There’s gotta be an easier place to hike in the mountains.” Well we got lost but found what he was looking for anyway. Burt’s original goal was the end of the road about 8 miles south of where we landed but we can’t complain. Rancho Santo Domingo is at the end of a different road and on a trail head into the Sierra de la Laguna. Chito is the current occupant and resident guide. He sent us on our way and we did a short exploratory walk. His dog, I called it bones, followed us. Bones’s love for Olive was unrequited. I guess she prefers men with more meat on their frame. Up the hill from the very old and well shaded ranch house we found a mature orchard with ripe toronjas (grapefruits) and flowering mango trees. The trail followed the arroyo up into the mountains. Birds were sparse because of the heat but this water hole was fantastic.

We turned back early. I am still tired from Sunday’s expedition and we had a music date with Tom.  We can visit this place again when we have more time and energy. On our way back down Burt spotted the Cape Robin! I missed it but I can trust Burt knows a robin when he sees one.

Burt's butt in a fine swimming hole.
Burt’s butt in a fine swimming hole.
Chito y Beto: soul mates?
Chito y Beto: soul mates?
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest