Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 3, Part I

On Sunday we hiked. We've done a couple excursions below the rim of the Colorado National Monument in the past, and it's one of the best places to hike in Colorado. We hiked the Monument Canyon Trail once before and just wanted to go back because we knew how special it is.

Monument Canyon
Independence Rock in Monument Canyon

Beautiful day. Forecast was for increasing wind and cloud cover. It was breezy, but hard to see any indication that bad weather was coming.

Before we even got down below the rim I heard something below and saw a desert bighorn ram scrambling down a scree field. I fumbled for my camera hoping to get a discernible shot of him before he vanished. I couldn't see him, and tried just holding my camera out over the edge and pointing it down and shooting blind.

But lo and behold, once we got to the serpentine descent on the artfully sculpted switchbacks down the scree, there he was! At first he stayed a couple hundred feet away, but eventually must have figured out that we posed no threat. We were able to get within about 50 feet of him. He would move away a little as we progressed, then we'd catch up to him again. For a while I excitedly took pictures, then put away the camera and just walked. After a couple more encounters he kicked his heels in the air and ran up the trail ahead of us then climbed a steep slickrock face and we did not see him again.

Bighorn Ram

I've been telling Kathy about collared lizards every time we've gone to Fruita/GJ over the years. After our sheep had been gone for a while I started talking about them and how I hadn't seen one for a couple years. About a half hour into the walk Kathy spotted this one and I got a few pictures of it as it hovered near its den. We saw another bigger one a little later. Score!

Collared Lizard

I can't take pictures of canyon wren songs, but that sound is one of the things that makes the Fr-Utah country come alive for me. They were giving us a concert that day too.

It was a great hike. Third day of excellent spring weather in the Colorado Plateau country. Walking is a great contrast to riding. You experience the environment so much more richly. How many collared lizards and desert bighorn have stood back and watched me zoom by, oblivious on my rides in the desert?

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