June 16, 2008

Elk Swim and Moose Rumble

Elk in lake and forest, moose rumbling through the woods, deer leaping over timber. Those are a few of the highlights of today's Lake Mountain ride. We started at the usual Paradise Park at the forest service border trailhead. Both of us rode our horses without boots with the goal of toughening up their hooves and allowing them to self trim a little bit. The trail isn't overly rocky, so that worked okay except on the way down, when the horses seemed footsore, especially Boss, who had been ridden without shoes on a couple of other rides lately.
On the way up, we saw that the irises and balsamroot have come out along the trail, and the serviceberries are in full bloom down low. all of the aspen leaves are out around Gull Lake.
As we approached the lake, we saw an elk out in the middle of the water. The lake is shallow, so he was just standing there about knee deep. When he saw us, he started leaping through the water, leaving a trail of wake that looked like he was skiing. Daisy was running around as if she was on the trail, but she apparently didn't see the elk and never chased him directly.
We intended to go past the lake to Bear Seep and Bear Spring, which we used to approach from the Dry Fork/ Massey ranch side when we lived in Vernal. However, soon after we passed the Buck and rail fence, the trail was totally blocked by lots of deadfall. We tried several game trails, hoping to find a way around, but we didn’t come up with one.
Giving up on the blocked trail to the Seep, we followed an elk trail that continued around the lake, leading to some nice meadows we’d never been in before. As we were going through the aspen, Daisy came up with another elk. This one didn’t run. At first, we thought she might have found a mother with young, but it turned out to be a yearling who was just curious and almost seemed to want to play with Daisy as much as Daisy wanted to play with him.
The elk seemed to be chasing Daisy, but more in a curious way than aggressively. He followed her back toward us as he tried to figure out what she was. He kept coming toward her until he happened to see the two humans on horseback. That scared the little guy, and he ran away. I managed to catch a photo of him having a curiosity standoff with Daisy.
We were feeling pretty good about our wildlife viewing for the day, but we had one more to go. As we started back down the trail toward the trailer, Daisy found a big bull moose. It rumbled off with a lot of crashing through the brush. Daisy tried to chase him for a little ways, then gave up. By that time, she had to be pretty tired. Besides elk and moose, she had flushed a deer somewhere along the way and led it a merry chase. She was very glad to get back to the stream at the trailhead, where she lay down in the water to cool off.
The day was hot, about 70 at the trailhead, and 90 in Roosevelt. Altogether, our ride was about 6 miles, 1000 feet, done in just over 2 hours.
Dark clouds were moving in and we heard distant thunder just as we arrived back at the trailer. Our timing was perfect on this one.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a cool picture of Daisy vs. Elk! Not so cool that she chased a moose. Sounds like a great ride. I like the picture at the top of you on Mischeif in the field of flowers, very pretty.



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