Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fall At Mud Lake - Part 4

Although my favorite Blackfoot computer geek was able to retrieve a good many of my pictures, for some reason he was not able to save them all.
Interestingly enough, my computer chip now also includes many pictures that I took long ago - random pictures of Alaska and Wyoming, that I truthfully had not looked at in a long while.
I was not able to save them all from this trip, but I managed to save these............ 

After spending a short while wandering the beach where I had pulled off the water, I climbed back into my kayak and headed back onto the lake.
I had planned on taking my time and paddling back towards the shore line where I had left LC and Kory 90 minutes before.
I was about one third of the way across the lake when I saw something large bobbing in the water about 200 yards directly in front of me.
As I continued paddling I studied it, trying to decide just what the heck I was looking at.
It must be a log.........
A few minutes after I had come to that conclusion, I realized that this large, brown, unknown object was not just floating in the lake, but was actually moving.
What the heck WAS that?
It was large and dark brown, and still far enough away from me that I could not definitively identify it.
But by this time whatever-it-was had passed in front of me, was now drifting to my right, and was heading for the same land mass that I had just left.
If it stayed on this same course it would pass right by me, about 50 feet away.
What the heck WAS that?
I was still paddling but had slowed down.  
Still trying to figure out what I was looking at.
It definitely wasn't a log, but maybe it was a small boat (dark and cameoed up for duck hunting season)?
Suddenly, unexpected movement answered all my questions.
The moose turned its head to look at me, I could clearly see its face and its ears, both of which were sticking up above the water line.
This guy had seen me, was looking at me, and I could hardly contain both my surprise and my excitement!
I immediately stopped paddling, and sat unmoving in my kayak.
I was excited to unexpectedly come across a moose swimming from one shore, across the lake to a second shore, but now that we HAD come across each other I was uncertain of how he would react to my presence.
He had looked right at me, and knew that I was there.
I had started taking pictures from the first moment I saw a dark brown "something" in the water.  
From the moment it was nothing more than a curious brown bump in the water off in the distance I had periodically snapped pictures.
These are the ones I managed to save................
These pictures look like he was very close, but in fact he was 50 feet or so away from me and my boat.
Which was close enough for comfort.
Eventually this huge, and very beautiful animal, did swim right by me.
I watched him swim easily, completely mesmerized by him.
Most of the time he was focused on the land mass he was headed to, but every once in a while he would turn his head to look at me.
He was just checking on me, and thankfully did not make any aggressive movements at all.
I had been watching him very closely.  
Greatly enjoying the stunning sight of him, but also ready to paddle quickly away if he began to turn and swim in my direction.
Thankfully he never did.....................
After the moose had quietly and methodically swum by, I used my paddle to turn the boat around so that I could continue to watch him.
I was in awe of him, and totally enthralled at having such a wonderful and unexpected encounter.
I watched as he finally reached shore.  As he shook the water off his body.  As he looked around him, and as he eventually disappeared into the trees.................
This was an unzoomed-in picture, and my moose is still standing on the shore.
It is like playing Where's Waldo to find him, but he is there.
HE is why I was so eager to try and retrieve my pictures.
Very likely there would never be a moose swim right by me again in my lifetime.
AWESOME experience...................
From the time of my first sighting until the moose finally disappeared into the woods, I had been following this huge animal for about 20 minutes.
Smiling and excited it was finally time to turn the kayak around one more time and continue with my journey across the lake.
I wished that LC had been with me to see it.  
I could hardly wait to tell him in great detail what I had just seen.
Slowly coming down from my moose adventure, I looked around me again and snapped more lake / mountain / duck scenes....................
By this time I had been embedded in my quiet adventure for a couple of hours.
Looking towards the shore on the far side of the lake I realized that between distance, the glare of the sun and the many muted shades of brown and green and yellow that were all blending together in the terrain, I could not tell for certain whether LC was still at the beach.
I looked beyond the beach to see if the truck was parked on the hill.
I could not see the truck either.
Maybe they were still there but after all this time I doubted it, and I made the decision to paddle to my left and head for the cove where we were camping....................
I lost a lot of cove pictures as well, but I also lost something else in our cove.
Throughout the camping trip I had been wearing sunglasses, and had pushed them up on top of my head each time I snapped a picture.
The movement (after doing the same thing for so many years) was automatic, and yet on THIS trip I pushed them up too hard, they slid right off my head and fell backwards into the water behind me.
Certain that they would be floating on the surface of the water I expectantly turned the kayak around.
Nope.  Gone.  Sunk like a rock...................
After pulling off the water at the boat ramp adjacent to the camp ground I rushed to greet LC, and told him in great detail about my recent moose sighting.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with relaxation, reading newspapers and local magazines in a camp chair, and wandering around the camp ground alone while man and dog napped inside the camper.
After such a hectic spring and summer filled with heavy manual labor it felt strange to be sitting and simply reading in this quiet and beautiful place.  
And it felt strange walking and simply picture taking.
Strange but good.................
During a brief trip to the closest small town I snapped many pictures of farm silos and old buildings.
The few that remained after my "Delete All Pictures" fiasco..............
Late in the afternoon (after picking up ice and ice cream at the small town close to the camp ground) LC and I were sitting at the camp site when we heard what we thought was a boat engine.
It sounded as though it was traveling very fast on the open water, and then traveling fast in the cove right behind us.
I looked down towards the boat ramp in surprise as the noise continued to get louder, because I had paddled in that cove only a few hours earlier.
The water in the cove was VERY shallow.
There was no way that a speed boat could possibly be in the cove, and yet here we were listening to the motor.
And then the source of the loud noise suddenly and surprisingly appeared above the tree line.
What we had been hearing was not a boat after all, but rather some kind of flying-car-thing.
It appeared over the trees and as it flew right over the top of us the two passengers looked down at us and waved their friendly waves.  
Smiling at the unexpectedness of the encounter, we waved back.
The couple circled back and flew over us one last time before finally deciding to move on.
A beautiful late fall afternoon to be exploring Mud Lake by air ................
With the sun slowly beginning to set in the west LC, Kory and I took one last walk for the day.
Leaving the camp ground we slowly walked down the long, gravel driveway that led to the gravel road.
Turning left we looked out over a completely cloudless world, enjoying the sight of a setting sun and an increasingly colorful sky.
With little light left we suddenly heard noise to our left, looked through the sage bushes and realized that we had happened upon two porcupines (my boys used to call them Porky Picks).
Kory immediately began to pull on the leash, and LC at the same time shortened the leash and held our excited dog back.
As we slowed our walking and then eventually stopped moving, we all three stood motionless in the middle of this silent road and watched as the larger of the two porcupines ran in the opposite direction from us and disappeared into the vegetation.
The smaller of the two meanwhile had turned and quickly waddled directly across the road in front of us, climbed up the low embankment and disappeared into the corn field.
With both Porky Picks gone we all started slowly walking again, anticipating that our porcupine sighting was over.  
As we passed by the place where the female had disappeared into the corn we suddenly heard a noise.
Stopping in the middle of the road again we turned, and with Kory completely silent now, LC and I began to excitedly whisper to each other.
We could hear her.  Quietly grunting non-stop in the corn field.  Obviously calling to her mate.
Looking through the sage, we excitedly wondered if the male would make his reappearance.
Through the rustling corn field the female continued to softly grunt her position.  No mate.  More grunting.  No mate.  
Eventually the grunting became louder and more insistent.
By this time I had tried to take a number of pictures, but it was too dark.
There was no point in focusing on the disappointment of missed pictures.  It was what it was.
What it was, was too dark for either of my little digital cameras to pick up anything, and so I was left with the only option which was to simply enjoy the experience as it magically unfolded in front of me.
And I did.
After a minute of loud and insistent grunting the smaller female reappeared from out of the tall rows of brown, dried out corn, and slowly waddled back across the road again.
10 feet on the opposite side of the road the male suddenly made his waddling reappearance.
Together they happily waddled through the sage bushes and tall grass, and we watched them in the almost completely faded daylight as they finally disappeared together into the grass...................
Cooking breakfast on an open fire the next morning, before packing up and heading home................
We ended up cutting our camping trip short, but in only a couple of days and nights we managed to find peace and quiet and relaxation and endless memorable experiences.
A lone grey wolf who quickly appeared and then disappeared into a corn field.
A moose who slowly and methodically and watchfully swam from one shore across the lake to a second shore.
Tens of thousands of ducks bobbing on an endless blue lake and surrounded by an endless blue sky.
Walks on the beach, walks in the woods, walks alone, and walks with LC and my beautiful dog.
My name created on the beach in rock.
An Idaho version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Days that were a little too warm and nights that were a little too cold.
Endless cups of coffee and endless talks around a camp fire..................

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