Beaver Watchers

We run hills on Wednesday evening, and in a prairie city full of creeks and a river valley, the only proper hills are where the roads and paths cross the water.

It is not surprising then that our hill training brings us close up to nature, the bottom of our training hill being a bridge that crosses one of those creeks.

The creeks are still a little frozen, but nature never really stops working.

Last night we paused our multiple running repeats to watch this big guy, a beaver, paddling around the murky thaw of a spring creek still partially iced.

This is the same creek where in the winter we did a small snowshoeing adventure.

It’s amazing to me though, how even for people who routinely encounter nature on our runs, crossing paths with the likes of anything from birds, squirrels and hare to more substantial critters like coyotes and moose, we’ll all just stop what we’re doing to spend a few minutes admiring a lonely beaver in a creek.

Nature captivates… or at least you know you hang out with the right people when you are all captivated by similar things.

Hiking: Just the Bear Necessities

With so much closed and cancelled during the height of the pandemic, we took a couple short local vacations last summer to explore the nearby Rocky Mountain parks.

We felt we needed another break so we’ve booked a couple more nights (in the near future) for a spring hotel getaway about five hundred meters from where I took this photo of a bear last summer.

for whatever one photo is worth:

The thing about hiking in the mountains is that you’re probably going to see some wildlife.

Maybe it will be just some birds flitting through the trees or a squirrel dashing across your path.

Perhaps a larger animal of the cloven hoof variety will wander through the trees just far enough away to assert her caution into the scene.

Or occasionally, a big old bear will be lumbering down the side of the road.

I’ve come across bears a half dozen times on my wilderness adventures and every single time has resulted in a golden story that others want to hear. Bears, for whatever reason, are hiking adventure tale jackpots.

I think it’s probably the blend of big critter who doesn’t have a care for what some pesky human is doing in the woods… unless of course he has all the care and could kill you if you get in his way.

We’d been spotting bear advisory signage up and around the hotel and trails, but even so it was a bit of a shock to see this fella, a young black bear, ambling near the road leading into the trailhead parking lot one July weekend. We were preparing to hike from that same parking lot. I leaned cautiously out the car window and snapped a few photos with my iPhone, and we drove another three or four minutes down to park the car… a little rattled, a little awed.

Luckily he was headed the other direction, and we enjoyed a couple hours in the mountain woods anyways.

If all goes well, we’ll be hiking that same trail again inside of two weeks (and I’ll have some adventure journaling to share.) Chances are we’ll see some wildlife. Hopefully it’s still a little too early for another encounter with this guy.