Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 25, 2009
It has been September 26th since I have had a chance to get out into the wonderful world of nature except for trips to Casper which were all Doctor related. I finally con Vicki into letting me drive[again the first time since September] and we head off for a Christmas Day drive to the Glacier Trailhead south of Dubois. I tell her it should be a good foot exercise driving with my boot cast on over a rocky dirt road. Our intent is also to see if there are any Bighorn Sheep in the valley. After all this is the location of the largest Bighorn herd in the world.
On the way in we do see a number of sheep high on the skyline of Whiskey Mountain. Too far to say we really watched any sheep. Near the trailhead we stop to watch about 30 head of Mule Deer browsing away. Many are suddenly intent on something just over the rise out of our sight. Suddenly a young Ram and a ewe burst out over the rim at breakneck speed. He is pushing her fast.
December 25, 2009
First to the right they come only to veer to the left and race westward then again to the east making tight turns all the time right in front of us. Even in these tight fast circles of directional changes she cannot evade this fellow. The deer are scattering amongst this display adding a sense of mass confusion to the scene.

December 25, 2009
I don't know how long this has been going on befor they first appeared befor us but they continually pass in front of us changing directions 5 or 6 times. The deer have even attained a position where they too watch in assumingly amused interest at the intensity this young ram posseses. Biologicaly he doesn't have a chance as a ewe is very particular about who she chooses as a mate and it is always an older and much larger Ram. It would be interesting to see what comes of this chase as there are no other sheep anywhere around. The herd is high above on the flats of Whiskey Mountain where we had observed them earlier. This show abruptly ends when they both dissapear back over the rise from where they first appeared not to be seen again. Our timeing for this seemingly staged event was perfect. Arriving a little earlier or a minute later and we would have missed the whole show. Aren't we lucky?
December 25, 2009
We turn our attention back to the Mule Deer now that the sheep have dissapeared. Everyone seems to have calmed down after this sudden interuption of the afternoons activities. Out of all the deer around us there is only one 2 point Buck. I shoot a number of pictures and am particularly taken with this cute little fawn and its sweet expression.

We continue to the trailhead at the end of the road. There are 5 or 6 does and a good size 2 by 3 point buck and a nice 5 pointer. His antlers are pretty narrow over his head but he must be a determined fighter as he is missing two tines off the antlers on his right side. I shoot a number of pictures of him as he is certainly not afraid of us and I even have to whistle several times to get him to even look our way.

December 25, 2009
The 2 by 3 buck has moved up above into the rocks and trees but I do get a few pictures of him. After we turn around and head back down country we notice the two of them have climbed up onto a bench above and are sparing and jostling one another. I'd like to get pictures of that but they are back in the trees and I guess I am unable to manuever the country on crutches so...
Just over the ridge we run into several other deer accompanied by another large 5 point Buck. We speculate if this might be the fellow that broke the times on the buck just below.

December 25, 2009
We drive by the place of our earlier encounter with the sheep and search the mountainside for them to no avail. The Deer are still there and we watch and photograph them for a while befor continuing on past the lakes now frozen. There are some fishermen out on Trail Lake and I guess it is really frozen because they have their pickup out on the lake. I stop at Ring Lake and get a few pictures of the setting sun that is casting its low light across the Ramshorn bathing it in that special light and color of Alpinglow so treasured by artists and photographers.
A major blizzard is going full blast across the midwest and the eastern 2/3 of Wyoming. 30 miles to the east it is snowing but we sure can't see much evidence of that fact here. We have missed all the snow storms in the same way since our heavy snows of September and early October. We are now well below average on our mountain snowpack. Dubois did not have a white Christmas.

December 25, 2009
Lincoln Ridge to the east of the Ramshorn is also catching that alpinglow. Wonderful orange and purple colors adorn the mountainside.
I can feel the trip on my foot but count it as good exercise as it doesn't feel any worse than what I feel after Bill the Therapist finishes with me after my every other day workout.