Steve wanted to ride along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon before the summer heat. Our trip on May 4-6 may have jumped the gun a little. Since the road from Jacob Lake to the North Rim is closed until May 15, we had to enter by back roads, which still had both snow and some fallen timber blocking the way.
Kaibab squirrels scampering in the trees beside the road. The silhouette of one is shown in the photo above. They have an all-white tail, cute little ear tufts, and live only on the Kaibab Plateau on the North Rim, in an area of about 20 by 40 square miles. They are a sub-species of the Abert squirrels found on the South Rim, which are similar but do not have the distinctive tail. The Kaibab squirrels became isolated on the Plateau after the last Ice Age. This squirrel is uniquely adapted to living in the Ponderosa pine forest, since its most significant food source is the seeds within the Ponderosa pine cones.
On the way back to camp, we trotted up on a small bison herd. All but one ran away. One young one was lying in the road. We thought he must be sick or injured. We tried to tippy-hoof past him, since steep banks and forest made a circuitous route impossible. To our surprise, causing the horses to nearly jump out of their hides, the lone bison leaped to his feet and ran away as soon as we had cleared him by a few feet. Fortunately, he had no interest in charging us. The bison in the Kaibab are really beefalo, heavily interbred with cattle, so they are neither as large nor as wild as the bison in Yellowstone. Still, that was a bit closer encounter than was comfortable.