Saturday, January 11, 2014

Coyotes And Clouds

Neither LC nor I have slept well for what seems like a long time.
After one more fitful night, LC was sleeping late yesterday morning while I drank coffee, caught up on the news (garbage in/garbage out - same garbage different day but I compulsively have to catch up anyway), and tried to wake up and get motivated to walk my dog.
Late in the morning I finally and quietly got dressed up for a cold walk, while at the same time trying hard to keep my increasingly excited dog from waking up my tired Mountain Boy.
Kory!  Ssshhhh!  I whispered while rushing to get outside before LC woke from his sleep.
As we headed down the road on our way to BLM land, I looked up at the sky.
I could see from the house that over on public land the sky was a beautiful light blue.
In town where we were still walking, the sky was a beautiful watery blue.
The kind of blue that I find completely mesmerizing.  
The kind of blue that you only see in the dead of winter and that could easily evaporate into grey at any moment. 
It is a beautiful color and yesterday morning it was even more beautiful because the sun was working overtime in its attempt to dominate the sky, and the clouds were...........I still don't understand the clouds in the desert.
They are so different from anything I have ever seen before.
Almost like white lace covering a blue tablecloth.
The sky here speaks to me in tones and whispers that I still don't understand, but I am drawn to the sky and the sky seems to know that.
Which all sounds very new age-y and wind chime-y and that doesn't really matter because the sky is just beautiful and I like it...............

I snapped the picture above as Kory and I made our way to the back of town.
Everything looked so different from what I was used to - watery blues, watery greys, watery whites.
All light, fragile, muted shades of color.
By the time we were walking the last road in town, the icy blues of BLM land were visible...........
Looking towards the snow covered dirt trail entrance onto BLM land............
And one last look back towards town and the way we had just come............
A few days ago I had walked on BLM land alone with Kory.
I had gone armed with a small sandwich bag of hot dog slices and as soon as we hit open land I set my pup free to run.
For the next hour I wandered and she ran and I had no problems controlling my girl.
At the end of the hour I planned on bringing Kory back to me one last time, hooking her back on leash and walking home.  
While Kory was standing close to an open spot in the fence I curiously watched as she stood looking at the road on the other side of the fence.
She turned to looked at me, looked back and then jumped the ditch onto the road.
I yelled at her to come back to me and when she instantly came back I praised her and handed her one more piece of hot dog.
On the spur of the moment I decided to try and walk Kory off leash from the field we were in to an adjoining field.  A distance of about 20 feet of road walking.
As we both stood at the break in the fence Kory looked up at me and I told her "OK.....let's go".
I THOUGHT that she would jump the ditch and then follow my direction and tone of voice as we made our way to the adjoining field where the hay bales were located that she loved to run and jump on.
As soon as we crossed over the ditch she ran across the road and headed full speed across an open piece of property.
I called to her.  No response.
I called again.  No response.
I blew the whistle.  No response.
She didn't even slow down.
By that time Kory was already across the open property and headed for a neighbors' yard the next road over.
I watched Kory stand beside the neighbor's boat and then finally she looked over at me.
When I called her she turned and disappeared behind the boat.
Damn it!
With runs on hay bales quickly forgotten I reached into my pocket to call LC while I strode in the direction of our neighbor.
She's free.  I've lost sight of her.  She's wandering through town right now.  I'm heading towards J's house where I just saw her.  No........can't see her now............bla bla bla.  
LC told me that he would drive around and I could walk around on foot and hopefully we'd find her.
By the time I walked the block to J's house and turned the corner, I could see another of our neighbors reaching down and holding onto Korys' leash.
As I continued on foot in that direction I watched as LC reached the woman and our wayward dog before I did.
Thanks.  Waves.  Appreciate its.
A frustrating ending to what had otherwise been a great experience for both of us, but thankfully she didn't get very far..............

A couple of days later I was again on BLM land with my dog.
In no mood to chase after her if she bolted for the road, I waited to unleash her during this walk until we were a good distance from anything resembling pavement.
Armed with hot dogs and whistle again, I crossed fingers that this walk would be a good one for both of us.
Armed with hot dogs and whistle, but suddenly I realized that I was not carrying a gun.
In my haste to get both woman and dog out of the house without waking up a very tired LC, I had left without it.
Momentarily I debated whether or not to stay in town but we were already out on public lands, my dog was already in happy-run-mode and it was the middle of the day.
It would be OK...................
Click on any of the pictures and they will all enlarge...............
LC and I had biked this trail late in the fall.
I had left a note for LC before Kory and I left the house, letting him what time I had left and which trail we were walking.
As Kory and I began to wander on the trail I instantly absorbed a lot of things that were going on around me.
The mountains in the distance held more snow than they had only a day or so before.  They looked beautiful - a seemingly endless and rugged wall of snow covered mountains.
The sky looked to be a different shade of blue in every direction.
I looked down at Korys' footprints in the snow.  She has paws so big and ears so floppy that LC and I have wondered if there's a "hound dog in the wood pile" somewhere.
If I saw those prints as I was walking and didn't know who they belonged to, I would wonder if there was a small wolf in the area.
I could see many other types of tracks in the snow - birds, field mice, lots and lots of coyote prints.
It was turning warm very quickly, and as I continued to follow the trail my gloves and hat were the first casualties, followed by my fleece neck warmer.
Soon my jacket was unzipped.
Unexpectedly I had too many clothes on for a day that was quickly growing unexpectedly warm...............
As Kory continued to run (and reliably come back to me when I called her), I internally debated where I would walk.
Should I take the right fork or the left fork on the trail when I reached them?  Should I walk as far as one of the small buttes up ahead or cut across country and hit the Water Tank Trail?
In the end coyotes made the decision for me.
They had recently followed a consistent path through the snow, and I found myself following their tracks, mesmerized by the story of their travels that I was creating in my mind...................
By the time I had lost interest in their tracks, I realized that I had veered away from the two small buttes to the west of town and had begun to slowly work my way across country.
With the decision of where we were headed made by the happenstance of short-term blind-following of tracks, I looked up ahead of my and could see the large water tanks in the distance.
Although I couldn't see it I knew from previous walks with Kory that there was a trail close to the tanks that I could pick up, and it would take me back towards town.
It seemed like as good a plan as any.........
Kory was having a great time running and wandering and sniffing every track she came across, and I watched her, enjoying the sight of my dog running free.
Whenever she wandered too far I called her back and rewarded with words and pats on the head and (of course) slices of hot dogs.
We were doing fine together.
Kory with the Twin Buttes in the background................
The Idaho desert in winter...................
We were about half way across the huge open expanse of BLM land that we were walking (as we made our way from one trail to another) when I heard them.
The day had been absolutely silent to that point, and to hear coyotes suddenly howling in the not-far-enough distance was instantly unsettling.
The howling sounded as though it were coming from the Table Top - a butte directly in front of us but about also about 3 or 4 miles from us:
The unexpected noise was startling and I quickly and silently admonished myself for not making sure I was armed before leaving the house.
My next concern was whether or not I should hook my dog back up to her leash.
Would she leave me and run in the direction of the howls?
As I continued to make my way through uneven ground filled with rock and desert grasses and sage bushes and snow, I listened for coyotes and watched my dog for any signs that she was more interested in finding them than staying close to me.
The coyotes went silent.  My dog stayed close.  All was well............
One of many kinds of prints I found in the snow yesterday.............
The trail home.............
As Kory and I finally picked up the trail that would lead us back to Atomic City I snapped these quick pictures.
Twin Buttes (above) pointing the direction home.
Looking back at Cedar and Big Southern.
A couple of minutes later I heard the coyotes again.
Howling and also barking, it sounded as though there were many in the pack, but for a minute I stood in place listening and feeling slightly confused.
The first time I had heard them it sounded like they were at the Table Top to the south.
The second time I heard them it sounded like they were coming from Cedar Butte to the west.
The same pack that had traveled?  Two different packs?
I had no idea.  
But as the coyotes continued to howl and bark I decided that enjoying snow covered mountains and pretty cloud formations was now less important than getting home.
I was officially creeped out............
Approaching an old piece of farm equipment that has lain silent and dormant ever since we arrived in Atomic City.
I loved the lines of the piece - the color of it - the sturdiness and artistic qualities of the piece - and (as I always do) when I saw it again yesterday I wondered exactly how long this thing had sat in the same place.............
Now that my puppy and I were safely back at the outskirts of town I turned to look back the way we had come.
Look at that sky...............
There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.............G.K. Chesterton

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