I meant to publish this post over a week ago, but I have been having major connection problems, and haven't even been able to get online for over a week. Just trying to upload my pics to my photobucket account was a nightmare! Finally, our WIFI is working again!
Earlier this month, Don and I went on a scouting trip, and found another wonderful campsite near the high mountain meadows of the Mt. Baldy wilderness. This one was so much better than the place we camped at earlier in the spring. We were well above 9000 feet when we found a lovely secluded area perched atop of some small cliffs. The campsite is located on a ridge just above a small meandering stream with extraordinary views of mountain meadows. I have never found a more perfect place for wildlife viewing and we were not disappointed by the parade of wildlife (Elk, Pronghorns, Turkey) we spotted during our short stay.
Our scouting trip was primarily to allow us to find a suitable base camp from which to locate Elk which we will be studying in a 6 week population survey near the Mt. Baldy Wilderness. Check out the videos of the elk frolicking in the meadows at the end of this post!
Our elevated campsite which afforded great views of the meadows,
A little horned toad (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) that was hiding under some grass not 2 feet from where I was sitting to take the pictures of the columbine. Ain't he a beauty! I have never seen a more beautifully colored specimen.
During our stay, I made one short hike up the mountain above our campsite to get a better view of the surrounding meadows, looking for game trails, scat and other elk sign. I followed several elk trails on the high mountain ridge above camp, and found places where the tall grass was squashed flat by Elk who prefer to bed down on steep heavily forested mountain ridges. A colleague of mine had suggested this area to conduct our survey, and it turned out to be a great location. Thanks so much Ray!
I wish I had waited just 24 hours before making this hike because I would have been sitting right above the herd of elk that came down to play in the marshes. At least now I’ve got a good site picked out to do some wildlife watching. There are several nice hiking trails in the area so I can’t wait to go back to explore the mountains and meadows of this pristine region of the White Mountains. The following are just a few pictures I took during my hike up the mountain.
When I first spotted this narrow little pass, it looked like the perfect route by which the Elk in our study would take to get to the marshes below my blind. As it turned out, the Elk used 2 primary trail routes to access this meadow, and I had found the perfect vantage point from which to watch both trails.
The following picture is of the marsh which I was sure would be an excellent water source for Elk in the area. I could have sat here all day just waiting for a glimpse of Elk or the beavers that built the dams blocking the stream. Unfortunately Don called me on the walkie-talkie to warn me that a fast moving storm was coming in. I made it back to camp just as the rain began to fall………
The three days we were there, we spotted a large heard of elk frolicking in the meadows below us. It was wonderful to watch these majestic animals play in the marshes - especially the calves. We saw at least 2 bulls with rather small racks, and I suspect that somewhere nearby too smart to expose himself and well hidden among the trees, stood the big bull surveying his harem – King of the Mountain. There were over 21 elk in the herd we saw, which is by far the largest group I have ever seen in the White Mountains. Because of the size of this herd, we figured we had picked the perfect location for studying elk, and would revisit this area in the following weeks. This first herd, Group (F301), we referred to as the Aspen Ridge group.
The Atheist and the Bear
A backpacker, who happened to be an atheist, was hiking through the forest one day. He was overcome by the beauty that surrounded him, and thought to himself, “What majestic trees, and pristine rivers!” Then he came to an expansive meadow and spotted a baby fawn lying in the tall grass, and thought, ”What beautiful creatures!” After walking about half way through the meadow, he spotted a grizzly bear with two cubs at her side. The mama grizzly sniffed the air and started to charge the backpacker, who had no place to hide. Running for his life, the backpacker tripped over a rock, and the bear caught up to him and was standing over the hiker growling and baring its sharp teeth.
At this point, the atheist hiker yelled out, “Please God, Save me!”, and God appeared as a magnificent bright column of light. From the bright light, His voice boomed, "You deny my existence your entire life, and laugh at those who believe in me! You don’t even credit me with the small miracles and beautiful wildlife I have created – they are simply cosmic acci- dents to you". "Do you now expect me to save you from danger?” The atheist looked up into the light and said, "I have never been a Christian and It would be hypocritical of me to ask you to treat me as a follower now. All I ask is that you make the grizzly bear a Christian."
The booming voice replied, “IT IS DONE!” As the hiker lay on the ground looking up at the bear, he saw it lower its head, and then bring both front paws together, as if to pray. Then to the hiker’s amazement, it spoke, ”Lord, bless this food which you have bountifully provided for me and my family, which we are about to eat. Amen.”
An environmentalist dies and reports to the pearly gates. St. Peter checks his book and says, "Ah, I see that in your former life you were an environmentalist – Sorry, but you're in the wrong place - better check downstairs." Thinking that heaven could never make a mistake, the environmentalist reports to the gates of hell and is admitted.
Pretty soon, the environmentalist gets dissatisfied with the extremely hot and unpleasant conditions in hell, and starts implementing eco-friendly improvements. After a while, global warming, air and water pollution are totally eliminated. The environment is covered with green grass and plants, the food is organic and Hell's inhabitants are very happy in the newly created paradise. At this point the environmentalist has become very popular.
One day God calls Satan up on the telephone to gloat a little, "So, how's it going down there in hell?" To God’s surprise, Satan replies, "Things could never be better. We've got clean air and water, & the temperature is a refreshing 72 degrees. And the food is just out of this world! There's no telling what our environmentalist is going to fix next."
God replies, "What’s that you say? You've got an environmentalist? That has to be a big mistake. He is obviously one of ours and should never have been sent down there. So send him up immediately!” Satan replies, “No way, Jose, I'm keeping him. Its great having an environmentalist on the staff. Things are so much better down here now."
God says, “If you don’t send him back immediately, I’ll sue!”
To which Satan laughs his head off and replies, “Yeah, right. And just where are you going to get a lawyer?”
I guess ol' Smokey is celebrating his 70th birthday today after debuting as a mascot on a fire prevention poster issued in 1944. It was not until 1947, that Smokey Bear's slogan, “Remember…….Only You can prevent forest fires” was adopted by the ad campaign. Later the slogan was changed to Wildfires in 2001.
In 1950, a little orphaned black bear cub was rescued during the Capitan Gap Fire in the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico by a troop of Fort Bliss soldier’s who were fighting the fire. The little cub whose paws were burnt was found clinging to a tree desperately trying to escape the fire. Because of his ordeal, he soon became the living symbol of fire prevention. After being nursed back to health, Smokey, whose original name was “Hotfoot Teddy” was transported to his new home at the National Zoo in Washington DC where he lived for 26 years as a national celebrity.
I heard an interesting bit of trivia regarding the use of the nicknames “Bears” or “Smokey” for highway patrol officers by truckers. Apparently it is a reference to the hat worn by Smokey Bear in fire prevention posters which is quite similar to the hats used by state patrolmen……… The original Smokey Bear hat was apparently styled after those worn by the US Calvary which were the first units assigned to protect our National Parks………
I always thought otters were rather cute, and playful, but a recent incident in the state of Washington may have shattered that image. A woman and her 8-year-old grandson were swimming in the Pilchuck River when they were viciously attacked by a river otter, sending them both to the hospital. The boy's grandmother was bitten several times on the face and head as she tried to pull the aggressive otter off her grandson. She said, "I could see that it was biting into his head and it had its claws around him, so I just swam out there, and I grabbed the claws to pull it off of him. Its neck was long enough that it just started biting on me and biting into me. It felt like little knives going in,"
Fish and Game agents have closed that section of the river, while they attempt to capture the illusive animal. If the otter is a male, they will most likely euthanize him, but if it turns out to be a female protecting her pups, Fish and Game officials will try to relocate the entire family.
The boy's mother, Tabitha Moser, who witnessed the attack, reported "All of the sudden, I just heard him scream for his life. He was just bobbing up and down in the water and as he came up there was something all the way on top of his head." Even after they climbed out of the water, the otter continued to attack, "Even after it got into the river and out of our way, it stood on its hind legs looking at us like Don't do it again! Don't come in here!"
You can read more about the incident at the following link: