Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Hike

On a quiet sunny day in Colorado Springs, just after a fresh snow storm, it makes good hunting for the falcons. This large falcon was sitting quietly waiting for a mouse, rabbit, fox or something tasty to move. Just as we came upon her she swooped down on something, but came up empty.  We love hiking this time of year.  Its quiet, there are few people out and the air is fresh.   Bridie takes the opportunity to take snow baths, I think she learned it from Zamboni.   We came across fox and rabbit tracks, no mountain lion this time.  She was probably well out of the area by now hunting somewhere else.  Its usually slower going in the snow, especially when its deep, but we seem to have more energy than hiking in hot weather.  There is a certain pace you set every time you hike, too slow and you get fatigued, too fast and you tire out.  Just right, and you can have a nice enjoyable time.  Today was just right.  Bridie insisted on going through the denser parts of the hike.   She must have found the scent of something as she usually stays about 20 feet out and may circle back, but this time she had her nose to the ground and was determined to find whatever it was she was tracking.  This was a short hike, 1/2 up Green Mountain.  We did not have the time to do the whole thing.  We may do that Saturday, test out the GPS that Santa is supposed to bring.  Merry Christmas!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mountain Lion in my hiking area

This morning we went out for our exercise (walking the dogs through the foothills) on one of our normal trails and it was obvious that we were the only ones to be out on this trail for days. The snow as fresh and undisturbed. About half way up our trail we came across some fresh tracks that I normally have not seen in this area. They were very fresh (probably early morning) and the paw prints were larger than Bridie's, my golden retriever, whom has huge paws for a dog. The tracks came down an access road and went off into the "forbidden area" (the academy shooting range). They went one way. The dogs picked up the scent and we followed the tracks up the road until they went off west, were they came through some heavy scrub oak. Further up the trail we followed some deer tracks and once again came across these tracks once again.

We followed them up the side of a hill and along a narrow trail I never knew was there.   We finally had to stop following them as they once again came out of very thick scrub oak.   I knew right off they were not bear tracks, I have seen enough of them to know, and they definitely were not dog tracks.  They were mountain lion tracks. You can see the comparison from the picture and the prints.  We were hiking between the posted hunting times at the Academy  (5-7 Dec and 11-13 Dec).  This is a time when they allow hunters to come in and weed out the herds.  Funny thing is we usually see deer tracks, deer droppings, elk, you name it, and usually in abundance.  We came across only two sets of deer tracks.  It could be the cat was keeping them away, or that these "hunters" scare off the herds.    This cat was probably larger than my dog Bridie based on the size of her tracks.  They were one way tracks and we could not follow them into the shooting range area.   In this picture below you can see where we first came across them.  The cat was following the road and went off to the right into the brush.  We looked for signs of snagged fur or something other than the tracks, but this cat seemed to navigate well through the brush as there were no branches broke off or twigs snapped.  Unlike the bear we came across this fall where entire branches were snapped off and you could clearly see the path through the brush.   Finally this is the area where the cat went.  Probably plenty of rabbits or smaller game to chase.  We stay out of here even though the range is miles off on the other side of a ridge, we don't want to loose our hiking privileges.  That is one thing we worry about as access to the Academy is basically open; some idiot wandering off into restricted areas prompting the Academy to close off entire areas. 

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Best Time of the year

So here it is, December.  Rapidly approaching Christmas and New Years.  I have not done the Christmas cards, tree is still in the crawl space, but I do have lights outside, even though I forget to turn them on.  Ttis is the time of year that the government decides to drop RFPs (Requests for Proposals) so they can relax while us contractors work like mad to keep our jobs.  What am I thinking about?  What would be a good winter hike.  I like winter hikes because 1. There are less amatures out there to deal with 2. The dogs love it 3. I have to carry less water 3.The silence is great 4. The snow   So I have some time Saturday Morning.  Thinking of which trail to take.  Two weeks ago we went to the Microwave towers above the Academy, that was a 7 mile trip.  The dogs are ready.  But me?  I have been sitting working hard on profiles the past 2 weeks.   I need a lateral easy hike, they need a hard driving 5 hour hike.    Sometimes I envy the dogs.   

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hockey in California

I was lucky enough to get to see the Hockey battle of LA:  The Aneheim Ducks take on the LA Kings.  Having been in both the Staples center and the Duck Pond (Now call Honda Center), I prefer the Duck Pond.  They set the seats steeply tiered so you are closer to the players.   This time I decided I wanted to be up close so I paid a little more to be one row back from glass, but since I was on a corner, I was essentially on the glass.  The action at that level is intense.  The corner is where you dump the puck and race in to dig it out.  There was plenty of on the glass checking.  This was actually a pretty intense game.  I was a little dissapointed in that Ryan Smith (94) of the Kings was out for an injury, but they did not need him, they beat the Ducks 4 to 3.  It nearly went overtime.  The Ducks were trailing 2 to 3 coming into the 3rd period and they put up some intensive play to score with about 4 min left.  However, the Kings drove back with about a minute left in the game to pull ahead by one.  There was actually a shot at the last second that I thought was going in to take us to overtime, but Johanthan Quick, the Kings goalie was hot--he stopped it.

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Anaheim Ducks vs LA Kings

Was in LA for a day of business and took a detour to catch a cross town battle between the Anaheim Ducks and LA Kings.  This was a Ducks home game, so it was in Anaheim at the pond.  It was a 30 mile drive and getting tickets the day of the game was no easy trick as this is a pretty well attended game.  There were just as many Kings fans as Ducks.  I got seats one row back from the glass in the corner.  That was a great perspective.  You really feel the speed and intensity of the game when someone gets crashed into the boards 3 feet from you.  I posted a small story on Whrrr with some pictures.  When I get back home I will process the rest on the beast and post here...  Was a very good game, came down to the last minute of play.  Kings won 4 to 3.

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