June 27, 2012

Strawberry Fields Endurance

We've wanted to compete in the Strawberry Fields Forever Endurance Ride ever since we heard about it 5 years ago.  Last weekend, we finally did it.  We rode in a 25 mile event, which is wimpy compared to the 50 milers, but we felt pretty good about finishing anyway.  Here we are at the mid-ride vet check.  The trails were well chosen, and the event was very well organized.  And the horses, mostly Arabs, were beautiful.  
Another day, we had a lazy ride in the Cedars.  Well, Mischief and I were lazy.  Steve and Coco were way ahead.  Here, Steve shows off by acting like he had time for a nap while waiting for us.  So not true!
Today, we went back to the area north of Strawberry Reservoir to check out some new trails.  We rode on a ridge with beautiful views.  The wind was blowing almost hard enough to unseat us, but we managed to stay in the saddle and even keep our hats from skittering away.
We looked down on a valley through which the Little West Fork of the Duchesne runs.  We have riden there many times.
The wildflowers are just getting started, and may be a little stunted this year due to a poor snow and rainfall, but the butterflies are enjoying the ones that are out.  These butterflies seem to hang out in groups.  They're feeding on cow parsnip, a member of the carrot family.
A big fire 50 miles south of us has been making the air smoky, which paints the sunsets in yellow and orange.  The "Church Camp" fire, as it is called, has burned some summer cabins, but fortunately no year round houses or people are at risk.  Several other fires are burning in Utah, and some folks have lost their homes.  All over the west, fires are burning out of control from the effects of dry vegetation plus lots of heat and wind.

June 18, 2012

Roaming the Hills

Roaming the green hills north of Strawberry Reservoir is an adventure every time.We traveled along a road briefly, but most of the ride was cross country. 
Steve is always on the lookout for birds flying out of bushes as we pass nearby.  Once in a while he finds a nest.
The Little West Fork of the Duchesne River has just enough water for Daisy's bath. She likes it cold, very cold.
Steve takes a nap along the banks.
Daisy fails to guard him and wake him up after a few minutes because she's busy chomping deer bones.
The ground is covered with green plants, but only a few are blooming so far.
On the way back, Steve finds some good grass for Boss, a rare patch among a sea of corn lilies (false-hellebore).  Steve slouches in the saddle as he waits for slower companions to catch up.

June 12, 2012

Wildlife Haven

We rode through green valleys starting at 7500 ft. north of Current Creek Reservoir,
ascending to 9500 ft. at Low Pass Road. 
This moose was knee deep in a beaver pond when we startled her.  We were startled, too, as she splashed out of the water to get away from the strange centaur-like invaders. 
She may have had a calf hidden in the aspens, because she ran to the trees and stood firm, staring at us until we were out of sight.  We were several hundred yards away, but a mama moose is no one to mess with.  We watched for any sign of aggression.  If she had charged, we would have made a speedy retreat.
We've seen sandhill cranes in this area several times.  Finally, we had a photo op.
A hairy woodpecker and his mate whistled and squawked at us.  They must have had a nest nearby, and all their noise was an attempt to scare us away.  Eventually, it worked. 
We saw lots of elk and deer.  Steve rode right past a deer fawn curled up in the brush.  It was tiny, probably only a few days old.  He would have taken a photo, but Daisy saw the fawn, too, so his efforts went toward containing Daisy so the fawn could safely escape. 
Can you see the pile of sticks in the bottom center of the photo?  That's a beaver dam, about 8 feet of engineering work at its deepest point.   
We rode up to check it out.  The beaver seemed to be gone and no longer maintaining the dam, but big pool of water remained, providing Daisy with a refreshing swim.

June 9, 2012

Living on Wildflowers

We rode to the top of Lake Mountain yesterday.  Wildflowers were out all along the way. 
A red-tailed bumblebee, Bombus ternarius, fed on a mountain dandelion.
This less colorful bumblebee preferred the golden pea blooms. 
Do you see something unusual on this iris? Steve did, enough to dismount and take a second look.
On closer inspection, you can observe this goldenrod crab spider Misumena vatia, eating a wasp.  Look closer still.  Do you see the baby spider to the right?  It's getting a survival lesson from mom.  I hope it's taking notes. These spiders can be either yellow or white, changing color over a couple of weeks by secreting or excreting yellow pigment. They don't build webs, but hide and ambush their prey.
A rocky mountain parnassian perches on a dandelion. 
This western swallowtail checks out the iris nectar. 
Across Gull Lake, an elk was wading in the water.  When we rode within about 500 yards, it splashed out of the water, leaving a visible wake, and disappeared into the aspen forest. 
Back at the trailer, a trusting Daisy enjoys Boss's shade.   Boss usually moves along when grazing, but with Daisy there, he didn't take a single step.  He seemed to know she was there and stood protectively over her.

June 5, 2012

Daisy's Four-Star Day

On the Mill B trail north of Strawberry Reservoir, Daisy had a perfect day. 
What's more ideal than swimming in an algae filled water trough,
sitting one's muddy self in a damp patch of marsh marigolds,
digging for rodents,
smelling lots of elk, (Can you see Daisy lifting her head to see  and smell above the sage?)
spotting a trickster coyote,
and giving it a merry chase.  Fortunately, she did not come close to catching it.
Yes,  Daisy gave the day 4 stars.  Her people  did, too.


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