Posts Tagged With: moose

July 20-22 Weekend trip

I mentioned in passing last week that I was going up to the Cabin to finish building the second half of the dock frame and friends T. and D. both jumped on board to come help! 

We got out of town Friday afternoon about 4:00pm and headed up the highway in two vehicles so that D. could come back to town Saturday to manage other commitments.  After a stop for burgers Pinnacle Mtn Cafe, we arrived at the camp at about 7:00, hiked in to get the boat and soon hauled a load of water and gear across.  T. practiced her rowing…From the bow, I felt a bit like I was on an amusement park ride!  She’s getting better, but we still do a lot of circles.  In her defense, it’s always more difficult to maintain a straight course when the boat is loaded.  D. watched from the deck, offering to call the Coast Guard for us! 

After getting the gear stowed, we settled in for the evening.  D. is dogsitting a beautiful young chocolate lab named Filson, and he is the energizer bunny of the fetching world.  In no time the deck was littered with sticks.  He loves to run down to the dock and hop into the water to cool off.  Luckily we had lots of towels to dry him off before letting him into the Cabin!  While he settled down and dried off, the three of us played some Cribbage and ate our pie slices that we had gotten at Pinnacle Mtn.

Saturday morning even Filson was willing to sleep in a little.  Unlike my previous trip, the temp this morning was 52F, and with four bodies in the Cabin the indoor temperature was 58F, which, while cool by town standards, was very comfortable to wake up to.  D. prepared a feast for breakfast – scrambled egg and sausage breakfast burritos with a side of fresh fruit.  Sure beats my oatmeal or granola bar breakfasts!  We went down to the dock and T. took over the drill driver.  The dock frame was done in minutes instead of hours with an experienced and strong person running the power tools, not to mention a second and third set of hands to hold things in place while she fastened them together.  We lugged the second log bridge that Dad had made out to the water.  T. changed into sandals and went out to set the bridge, but it was much too tall for the dock.  Without Dad’s chainsaw to trim it down to fit, we ended up bagging the whole thing. 

After lunch D. had to leave, taking the ever playful Filson with her.  It was a challenge to keep him out of the water for the hour or so before she left so that he wouldn’t be soaking wet in her jeep.  Rain was starting to spit on us as we watched her head off up the trail, so they were doomed to be a little wet anyway, but it didn’t get serious until later in the afternoon.

One of the loons popped up right off the end of the dock after we got back with our boatload of gear!

Rain notwithstanding, T and I took a little hike up to the four-wheeler trail.  Along the way I showed her my potential building sites and got some input from her on the pros and cons of each.  In the evening, as we were getting ready for bed, T spotted a moose swimming from the blueberry bog over to the peninsula in the rain.  I so love having company to share these things with.  I get to see everything through new eyes. 

Late evening light and rain account for the blue look of this shot.

 Sunday morning, July 22

No elaborate breakfast this morning.  The clouds were full of holes this morning, and by the time we got our cabin-closing chores done the sun was out in force.  T. pushed me to get things done early so that if the weather held we could spend some time on the lake in the boat.  The loons came out for a family picnic.  The chick is two weeks old today and is visible as more than just a fuzzy black dot in my lens now!  The parents took turns diving for tasty treats to feed their baby.

I think the male is the larger one. The chick seems to stick closest to the smaller one

After getting our gear across the lake, we rowed around the camp end of the lake, watching as a small plane buzzed low overhead to land at the private strip nearby.  We then rounded the peninsula towards Loon Lagoon. 

A local resident or a friend of one. I see this plane often up here, but it was cool to be on the lake when he made his approach

I’ve mentioned that the loons here trust me and my boat, and today they proved it.  The whole family was out and swimming together near the lilies.  We were careful not to approach too directly, but papa loon broke away from his family and approached us!  T. was in the bow and was able to see him dive under the boat.  He popped back up just a couple of yards away from me at the stern and then swam unconcernedly away. Mom and chick gave us a wider berth, but never acted agitated or worried.  What a special treat!

I almost think he believes we are just a big clumsy duck! Check out the red eyes!

At two weeks old the chick already ducks his head under water to watch its parents diving. He’ll be diving himself soon

Back at the Cabin we pulled the boat out and flipped it and then closed up reluctantly.  It’s always harder to leave when the weather is so beautiful! 

View from the lake. See what I mean about how close those trees are?

 

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Thursday July 5 and Friday July 6

Thursday, July 5

42F at 7am.  Gadzooks!  Keep in mind that whatever temperature I post in the morning, it’s only 3-4 degrees warmer than that in the cabin until I get Fatso up and running.  Every muscle is protesting this morning and the cold is NOT helping!  I’m missing Dad today as his fire-starting skills far exceed mine. 

Morning mist on the lake

Clouds were ever-present today, but thin and wispy.  Lots of sunny moments and no wind made it a really pleasant day for the most part.  I did almost nothing…all day.  Although a brief spit of rain came through, it didn’t even wet the deck, so that’s no excuse, I was just tired and sore and lazy.  I did finally go down in the afternoon to begin retro-fitting joist hangers.  As the dock is already set, that involved bending over double for the first ones until I had enough deck planks in place to sit on.  I didn’t get very far before the clouds rolled back in and my poor back said “enough!”  Tomorrow I’ll be able to sit and lay across the newly attached deck planks (they’re so pretty!) and will have a little better angle to reach the joists. 

Back up at the Cabin, I started a little craft project I’ve been turning over in my mind.  I began slicing a little spruce sapling that I cut down last year into ¼” slices that are about 1 1/2” in diameter.  When I get enough slices, I hope to make a chess board with them.

The eagle came back twice today to harass the loons.  They sounded off like air raid sirens and he flew off without dive-bombing them like he did the other day.  The last two nights I’ve heard owls hooting somewhere near the Cabin, but I’m far too lazy to go out in the cold to find them!  The moose have been hiding since Dad got here, but one cow finally came through this evening and swam from the blueberry bog to the peninsula right at bedtime. 

We have the Olympic swim team of moose here I think.  The cows get their young into the water within days or maybe even hours of their birth.  The extreme exertion in the icy spring water, together with poor nutrition this year, may have combined to take the life of the little calf, but I think overall it’s a survival skill.  Not that bears and wolves don’t swim, but maybe it confuses scent trails or at least discourages easy tracking.

It’s a shallow lake and narrow between the tip of the peninsula and our blueberry bog, so this is where they cross the most often

Anyway, after my super busy day (HA!) I’m off to bed…

 

Friday, July 6

OK what the ?!?!?  It was 38F this morning.  Holy crap.  The skies were crystal clear blue so I actually got up, though I sure wasn’t moving very fast!  I cussed myself for not remembering to gather kindling and refill the wood box last night.  First thing after the potty run is to tiptoe through the dewy moss in my slippers and jammies, gathering sticks that all feel damp.  Sure enough, it took two tries to get Fatso going and even then I had to baby it for awhile. 

The gorgeous weather and the fact that I only have two more days here spurred me to get busy on the dock.  But then a moose stepped into a patch of green sunlight across the lake and I sat down to watch her, hoping to get a closer shot as she worked her way up the lake towards the lilies.  After an hour, I finally gave up and admitted I was stalling! 

She was in the water almost all day, browsing her way along the whole south shore of the lake

I took the camera down to the dock with me and got to work.  The moose was completely unconcerned about me or my power tools.  She grazed her way almost all the way around the lake over the course of the day.  I lost sight of her when she got to the camp end and had actually forgotten about her.  So I was quite startled by a splash and a loud grunt just a dozen yards or so to my right as I was working on the dock late in the afternoon.  There she went across from the blueberry bog to the peninsula and I’m sitting on my behind on the dock, twenty feet from my camera on shore!  Sigh…

I finally got into a rhythm retro-fitting the joist hangers, managing to get almost all of them in, as well as installing the decking boards to within a foot of the end of the dock, before my second battery died.  I discovered my weight helps to compensate for my lack of upper body strength when it comes to screwing down the deck planks.  The first ones kept jumping up as the screw entered the frame boards, no matter how much pressure I tried to apply with my arms.  But standing on them – or sitting on them once I got a few done – worked like a champ.  Besides saving on my back, it allowed me to dangle my bare feet in the lake as I worked!  (Look Ma, no leeches!)

Currently the dock is shorter than the boat! Dad hopes to make it back up here this summer to set the other half.

My lack of carpentry skill is showing again in the uneven line at the edges, but I can correct that at some later date if it bothers me enough.  For now I’m happy that the joist hangers are in place and that the deck boards hide the worst of my zig-zags!

I’ll fix the last joist and lay the last of the deck boards tomorrow and then will get back to building the second frame, at least until my third battery gives out. 

Clouds have rolled in this evening and the promised “chance of showers” has begun.  The temp got up to 65F today even with a high haze all day, which was quite comfortable for working.  Flies are still my chief nuisance this trip – almost no mosquitoes (which, frankly, is weird.)  I had visits all day from bumble bees and dragonflies that were curious about the bright orange tank top I was wearing.  (Wow, Harry, did you see that huge flower?)  I had my heart set on getting some macro shots of the beautiful little bluet damselflies that kept posing on the cedar decking, but they wouldn’t wait for me to adjust my macro settings.  A family of young robins has been racing around the alders on either side of the dock.  My boss, Mr. Chitters, came down to supervise my work a couple of times, announced by angry cheeping of the bird residents.  (Can’t blame them, he ate two of them this week!)  Like me, he loves to sit on the end of the dock and gaze at the lake. 

It’s sad to think that I only have two more full days here…

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Sunday, July 1-Monday, July 2

Sunday, July 1

49F this morning at 7am.  Very windy again/still, and heavy clouds obscuring the mountains.  Haven’t seen them in awhile!  The sun broke through this afternoon and I took advantage of the chance to do another big batch of boards.  They’re almost done.  I pulled the last of them out from under the tarp and laid them out to dry so that I can finish up tomorrow. 

In retrospect our tarping system wasn’t the best.  We had laid them on a small tarp and then wrapped the larger one over the pile, which resulted in puddling that couldn’t drain away into the soil.  So the top two thirds of the pile was dry, but the bottom was laying in water!  This is on-the-job training here… 

I got a shoe-full of water every time I stepped on the tarp to reach the pile of boards!

Chitters is finally relaxing and getting into his vacation here.  He brought me a mouse this morning and ate it on the deck…no dead animals allowed inside!  But either he still has a nervous tummy or he ate a shrew by mistake as he threw it up a couple of hours later.  Thank goodness for the easy-to-clean vinyl flooring I laid last year.  Yuck! 

The rest of the day was pretty lazy.  Momma moose and calf swam across the lake this evening from our blueberry bog over to the peninsula, but they didn’t linger there.  The camp was quiet today.  One of the advantages of taking my Cabin vacation over the holiday weekend is that the Camp schedule is usually light this week every summer.  They host some smaller events for older kids, but the rowdy, water-skiing crowds are gone.

Monday, July 2

48F at 6:30 am and still overcast, though at least the wind has finally quit.  Chitters has decided that I’m not getting up early enough.  He’s also figured out that if he wakes me up, I’ll let him under the covers and he gets some snuggle time to warm up.  At home, he hates being under the covers.  Unfortunately, his favorite method for waking me up is to lay on my chest and purr and drool onto my face.  Bleah. 

Momma moose came back across to the blueberry bog this morning but calf didn’t want to swim.  She paced on the peninsula for a few minutes, made a couple of false starts and finally gave up and came across.  She’s getting really big and swims like a champ! 

Huge commotion from the loons this morning and when I looked out, I saw a bald eagle on a strafing run over the nest.  Definitely two loon voices panicked and screeching, so I’m more confident than ever that they are guarding an active nest.  The eagle didn’t persist and they calmed down after awhile.  I’m having to recycle old loon pictures for these recent entries as they haven’t been very visible this trip.

The sun came out a little earlier today than yesterday, and had more strength to it.  I finished all but one side of a couple of the boards, and then spent some time stacking and organizing the dry ones.  Big thunderheads have been building up over the peaks on both sides of the valley, so the threat of wet weather isn’t gone. 

Momma and calf came from across the lily patch toward the peninsula this afternoon.  In the series of shots you can see that Momma stopped for a snack while the calf went on to shore.  But then the calf swam back to touch noses with Momma as if to say, “Hey, aren’t you coming?”  Finally they both climbed out of the water and disappeared into the trees.

The calf swims so close to mom that she must kick her occasionally!

yummy lilies…you go on ahead, I’ll catch up…

Mom…come on!

Mom? No, really…aren’t you coming?

Finally mom agrees to come out of the water!

My other big thrill of the day was a big helicopter flying low over the lake.  He made several large circles, up the valley, out over the highway and back over the lake and the camp, at least four times.  There is always a lot of air traffic in the valley.  Small airplanes are Alaskan commuter vehicles and there’s actually a small private runway across the lake near the camp.  But this helicopter was a first for me.  Seems like an expensive way to scout big game for a hunter and it’s early for that anyway.  My imagination was running wild…Search and Rescue (most probable); Hollywood location scout (hmmm…); advanced security detail for some VIP (ok, I read too much.)  With no way to get news, I’ll probably never know.

The sun ran away early tonight…cloudy to the west…and the wind picked up again.  I took a little walk to get kindling and to scout out my future building site some more.  I hope to get a builder up here in the next year or two, so I have to make a decision soon as to the exact location.

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June 30 – Saturday

48F this morning at 7:20am.  Crystal blue skies overhead, and although the mountains across the valley were covered in clouds at dawn, they soon broke through and the clouds moved back into the deep valleys between the peaks.  High winds today – not just breezes.  I went out first thing this morning and dumped kitty litter on the moose carcass, causing a panicky swarm of maggots to erupt out of the litter!  Ewwwwwww!  Later as I was hunting for kindling I saw robins all over the place near there and realized the exposed maggots were becoming lunch!  And by the way, the kitty litter did the trick as far as the smell.

Sunshine (temps again up to 70F this afternoon) and wind are a perfect combination for working on the deck boards today.  I got over a third of them done in addition to finishing up the joist boards that I had started last weekend.  It’s slow going with no dirt-free work surface.  Even if the existing dock weren’t partially under water, I wouldn’t trust it to hold while I work, so I’m on the marshy shore.  The dock is beyond springy – I keep expecting a foot to go through the rotted plywood every time I have to stand on it for any reason. 

It's not supposed to be a "floating" dock!!

You can see why I need a new dock! The water-ski boat swamps this one all the way to the shore with its wake.

I really look forward to being able to take my camera and binoculars and a mug of tea down there in the mornings like I used to do.  I used to sit there for hours watching the lake and the mountains and talking to the loons…

I took this one last year

I’m glad I got so much done on treating the deck boards today as the clouds have really moved in fast on this relentless wind.  I thought I felt a raindrop or two as I was tidying up the deck and gathering firewood for tomorrow morning.  It could be a wet day tomorrow.  I finally saw some moose this evening.  A cow and calf came out of the trees to the east across the lake and walked the shore for awhile before heading back up the hill.  After she had disappeared, a little yearling bull showed up on the peninsula directly across from the cabin.  He browsed for a few minutes, did a little dance and ran back into the trees.  The wind has died down as evening approaches, and I suspect he was getting harassed by the flies.  Hopefully he will make another appearance when the light is better for a picture.

I haven’t seen much loon activity, though I have heard one calling late in the evenings.  My friend who lives in the camp community told me that swans vandalized the loon nest a couple of weeks ago, so she wasn’t sure there were even any loons still here. 

I wish the swans at the Cabin would pose for me like these ones did

They’re beautiful but noisy and apparently not good neighbors to the loons!

I was able to assure her that I had seen and heard at least one.  My hope is that the pair that nests here has been able to lay another clutch of eggs.  That could be why I haven’t seen more than one at a time.  They’ll be taking turns sitting on the nest until the chicks hatch.   None of my bird books gives information about how long from laying to hatching, so I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed…

Tomorrow if the weather cooperates I will hopefully finish water sealing the deck boards. 

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Friday, June 22

Many things to tell about today, but floating over it all is the HEAT!  I woke up to 52F but once the sun swung around to the south where it could blast the Cabin full on, it had risen to 70F and it topped out at 78F by early evening.  (A note to dwellers South…Alaskan summer sun doesn’t rise in the east or set in the west…it rises SSE and sets SSW.  In fact it really doesn’t rise so much as swing around from left to right in a giant arc that only barely dips below the horizon late at night.  And yes, 78F is HOT for us!)  Anyway, HEAT.  I was soon changing from a T-shirt to a tank top and regretting that I didn’t have stronger bug repellent as the flies were extra pesky today.  (More on that in a minute…)

Only one moose this morning with one calf.  My “wild America” morning was not to be repeated.  Momma moose headed up the hill across the lake as soon as the sun began to show some real warmth.  She will likely find a shady spot for them to bed down in the heat of the day.

One of the “silver” cows with her fast growing calf

I gathered my painting supplies and made my way down to the dock to begin the water sealing project on my new lumber.  Just getting the dang cap off the can of Thompson’s was enough to have me sweating and cursing, and the heat was just getting started!  After working for awhile, I gave up and went up for a shade break.  Bad news is there is no shade to be had except inside the cabin, which had become a sauna.  I had had the foresight to open the one screened window, but indoor temps still held at 10-12 degrees above the outside temps all day.  So for shade I grabbed my camera and went for a short walk in the woods.  In particular I went looking for Calypso, a tiny, somewhat rare orchid, native to this hillside, that I had seen in profusion the last two weekends when I didn’t have time for photography.

Calypso orchid – the bloom is less than an inch long

There was a largish patch of the little blooms near the outhouse trail, so I started there.  In the course of shooting, I became aware of an unusual amount of buzzing only a few yards away.  We do have paper wasps, bumble bees and other stinging critters, so I hesitated to investigate, but soon realized it was the source of my pesky flies…hundreds of flies…oh no!

For those of you who don’t live in bear country, a quick lesson.  Most fatal bear encounters in Alaska have come about from folks stumbling onto (or even just close to) a kill that has been cached by a griz for later snacking.  So if you spot an animal carcass, STOP!  And for heaven’s sake, don’t RUN!  (The only thing they defend more aggressively is their cubs, but cubs can travel.  As long as momma bear hears or sees you in time, she will usually choose discretion over valor and leave with her family.  Hence the practice of wearing “bear bells” when hiking.)

If you’re squeamish stop reading now and skip to the pictures or something, but before you go, rest assured that I did NOT see or get attacked by a bear.

As I feared, it was indeed one of the moose calves from two weekends ago that had the flies so excited.  From the looks of things, it died of natural causes (as opposed to “artificial” causes?) rather than at the hands…er paws…of a bear.  Still, my heart was beating pretty hard and I was really looking and listening and smelling for any signs of bear.

My big problem was – is – that this little carcass is only about 20 yards from my front door.  I started replaying Dad’s line of “we’ve had no bear activity on this side of the lake in over 40 years” and I let that mental tape run in the back of my mind even as I stood frozen, trying to think of what to do about this potential dilemma.

In the end, I actually crept a few feet closer.  What the heck, I was already well into the danger zone and had been for nearly a day, though unknowingly.  And…I can’t help it…I took a picture, though I will refrain from posting it.

There was actually very little left for a predator to be interested in guarding.  A wolf or even a coyote or a local dog could have taken the larger parts that were missing.  There are also a number of big predatory and carrion-loving birds in the area, including bald and golden eagles, either of which could carry off large hunks of meat easily.  There was no evidence of either dragging or of a struggle; the forest floor was relatively undisturbed, which further reassured me.  A bear would likely have done more damage, both to the remains and to the surrounding terrain.  I will confess that I didn’t have quite enough courage to get close enough to look for tracks.  Guess CSI is not a promising career choice for me!

Had to wait for each batch to dry before starting another batch as there’s no dirt-free staging area for the newly painted boards!

Later that afternoon, as I was back at work painting my dock boards, our family friend who lives in the camp year round came through on the trail.  Her eyes got a little wide as we discussed my find, but she reminded me that the moose are all really scruffy and scrawny this spring due to the extreme snowfall.  Chances are that the poor thing was either injured or malnourished itself, and fell victim to natural selection, giving its twin a better chance at survival.  That’s my Pollyanna outlook and it assumes that this was one of the twins from two weeks ago.

She – my friend, not Pollyanna – also told me that her son and daughter-in-law just shot and killed a marauding griz at their home a couple of lakes up the highway. Seems brer bear killed three goats before they put an end to his career.  My Pollyanna side hasn’t decided what to do with that information just yet…

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My first overnight at the Cabin this year!

June 9 

So, early to bed last night means my eyes popped open at about 4:30 this morning.  I laid there for awhile trying to convince my bladder that a short hike was just what it needed!  (My composting toilet won’t be set up until my long stay since I don’t yet have a place to store it except indoors, phew!)

 Finally, I stumbled out and stood in my jammies at the door, looking out over the misty lake in the dim morning light.  What is the white thing?  I rubbed my eyes – gotta get new contacts before I come up for my long stay – and a pair of swans swam into focus!  The camera was unable to give me anything but blurry white blobs in the low light.  I watched them cruise to the far end, trumpeting to each other (whew, maybe I’m glad they aren’t full time residents!) before slapping the water in a really noisy take-off.  They visit occasionally and it’s always a thrill but I have yet to capture them with a camera. 

Fully awake now, I decided I had several hours before I needed to get to work so I lit a fire in Fatso and sat with my Kindle to read.  The outside temperature was 42F so the fire was nice and soon warmed the interior to over 70F.  I glanced up from my book shortly after getting settled and spotted movement on the end of the peninsula directly across from the cabin.  A big silver cow moose was browsing there, and sure enough there was a little reddish brown calf with her.  Again too early for good photography. 

About half an hour later I heard splashing which usually means moose in the lake.  I glanced at the peninsula, but Momma was now laying down and her calf was out of sight, probably too small to see over the grass.  I saw ripples coming from the shore on my side and another cow emerged into view followed by two calves.  She headed for the peninsula, obviously a favorite browse site, but the first cow was on her feet all of a sudden and charged into the water with a definite message…”this is my spot!”  Momma #2 changed course and disappeared around the west side of the peninsula, walking in belly deep water while her calves swam beside her.  Momma #1 must have escorted her away as neither of them reappeared. 

 I resumed reading and about an hour later heard more splashing.  I looked up to see a young moose entering the water at the tip of the peninsula.  This one was smaller and darker, a yearling cow, probably a sister and/or daughter to one or both of the two I had seen earlier.  She brought my moose total to six counting calves!  Quite a busy morning.  She crossed to the blueberry bog on my side and presumably travelled on up the hill.

 The rain came and went all morning, finally tapering off altogether at about 8am.  I put the Kindle away, let the fire die down, and began chores, first tidying up the interior and putting away the groceries I had hauled up the night before.  Then I made several trips down to the dock to retrieve the items I had left there, including the toilet.  Finally I bailed out the boat, wiped the seats and headed across at about 9am to my lumber pile for the first of many trips.  S. showed up to help with loading and launching me in the boat as I was getting ready to take the second load across.  D. drove up in the motorhome, so for the third and fourth loads she was able to help me unload, stack and retarp the pile at my end.  The load with the ten-foot joists balanced across D.’s lap was a rowing challenge for me.  Thankfully there was no wind this morning!  S. drove on to her cabin while we finished up.

 We stowed the boat and put the oars back in the Cabin before hiking out to go spend the evening at S.’s cabin.  She has a large driveway in which we are able to park our little motorhome.  We roasted hot dogs, drank lots of Mike’s Mango, played some Farkle and finally called it a night.

 I couldn’t have done such a huge chore without these great, fantastic, amazing friends – and there are others who would have come if their work schedules had allowed.  I’m so thankful to all of them!

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It’s still winter here!

The weather here in Anchorage has been warming up a bit. After subzero temps for most of the last three weeks, 30F is balmy. I know it’s only February, but the more I write about the Cabin, the more I look to the longer days and the warming weather as indicators of spring coming. Sigh…Phil already predicted another six weeks of winter. Little does he know…in Anchorage we can double that.

Frosty afternoon on Cook Inlet

 The above photo was taken on a recent trip to Kenai to visit my parents.

I have embarked on a huge project of scanning old photos and negatives into my computer.  I hope to be able to share some shots of past Cabin trips with my family and friends soon.  Meanwhile here are a few winter shots to keep me grounded in reality!

Moose on Funny River Road - taken two years ago on a road trip. This placid lady looks like she may be expecting. She was unconcerned about the car stopping next to her and soon went back to munching the willow branches. The temperature that day was between 10 and 20 degrees below zero! mmm...frozen willow sticks...my favorite

 
Alaskans get used to having their shrubbery “pruned” every winter by our ungulate friends.  We had a little bull moose camp out in our back yard a month ago.  A rotted pumpkin had been left on the flower box and that’s like a special treat for a moose.  Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera with me at the time!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Hoar frost on the brush - Funny River Road

 
 Until the next post…stay warm!
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An introduction to my neighbors

The loons sometimes pop up right off my stern when I'm rowing my boat

My parents and I are rarely at the Cabin at the same time anymore, so Mom left a notebook up there for us to exchange notes about the birds we had seen.  They have a number of bird books that they consult on a daily basis, but since they take them back to Kenai with them when they leave, and since I somehow never invested in any of my own, the notebook was in danger of being one sided.  I can only identify the obvious like the trumpeter swans that stopped by one afternoon (VERY exciting!) or the stellar jays and camp robbers (aka grey jays).  So my notebook entries quickly evolved into general observations about life around the Cabin.

My human neighbors are busy and sometimes a little noisy, though as a price for the privacy we enjoy I really can’t complain.  My wild neighbors are noisy in their own way, but the noise fits somehow.  A cow moose crashing through the underbrush, while startling on a quiet evening, is less jarring than the buzz of the four-wheelers across the lake.  We have a family of loons that have become regulars, much to my delight.  In years past we had red-necked grebes, also entertaining.  We have a couple of families of muskrats, but the beavers left for greener pastures some years ago.  Dad has seen weasels, rabbits (or more properly, “hares”) abound, and a neighbor a few miles down the highway shot a photo of a lynx crossing her driveway.  We’ve heard coyotes singing and seen dall sheep on the hillside beyond the end of the lake (with the spotting scope), and once Dad woke us all up after a late night trip to the outhouse and we all tramped out to see a little boreal owl hooting softly on a branch above the trail.  As a kid I named the resident squirrel “Deckster” since he spent so much time looking for scraps on our deck.  I am sure I left out a few, but you get the idea.  Lots of neighbors, and lots of stories.

Stay tuned!

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Image

Dad's macabre decoration has grown on me!

The location of the Cabin makes it an ideal jumping off place for Dad’s hunting trips.  To the best of my knowledge he has never actually shot anything larger than a rabbit on any of these excursions (though he did get a small black bear and a dall sheep on other hunts).  This skull was found high up in the mountains behind the Cabin and was packed out with no small effort by him and two of his friends sometime in the late 1990’s.  It probably weighs 20 lbs or more!  He  was going to leave it after realizing how heavy it was, but his friend insisted that they could manage it.  I went hunting with him as a teenager and I can attest to the difficulty of the terrain up there.  Adding an unwieldy 20lb rack and skull to the top of my pack would have been out of the question!  As a result, I have come to appreciate it, not only as a decoration, but as a testament to … determination?  Luckily it doesn’t act as a deterrent for my (living) moose neighbors!

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