Disclaimer: there is no relationship between the following words and photos.
Winter's coming and things are winding down. I no longer have twenty weekend messages when I show up at work on Monday. The general store has cut its hours to 9-6. One of the cashiers there has chatted with me about my Thoreau shirts during the season; on a recent visit I had on my Porkies sweatshirt and learned his family has a place in the UP. And I've been told there's a new chance that a winter job might be offered to me--I should know this week.
There have been some local moments I haven't mentioned. Such as the bear who was right in the middle of my usual walk around Mammoth--I didn't see the critter though. I was at work and only saw the flashing lights across the sage meadow from my office window as the rangers hazed him out of town. Today on that walk, there was a bugling elk on someone's front lawn.
I haven't heard any cause of death of the big grizzly who was found several weeks ago. One of my coworkers and a bear surprised each other at about twenty feet. She has left for the year but said she's glad to be alive and is getting bear spray when she comes back next year. Another coworker unfortunately continues to hike alone without it. I do too, but unlike her I stick to mostly open areas where we can see each other coming. I'll also be buying spray next May if I come back because I plan on more solo hiking if I do return. I don't imagine death by bear is a pleasant way to go even though I feel like I'm living on borrowed time these days anyway, but my biggest concern is that I'd be rolling in the grave knowing I got a bear killed by not carrying the damned stuff even though hardly anyone ever actually has to use it.
There hasn't been any dramatic rut activity yet, but the elk and the rangers were both around last evening, and there are a couple bulls in town. The big-shots of recent years are dead, so these guys may not be too sure of what they're doing.
This morning I took a walk down to the Gardner River. I suppose I'd qualify for a 100 miles t-shirt if I'd kept track, but along with everyone else I wouldn't have come close to the woman I'd guess is in her seventies and who hiked 500 miles this season.
The great horned owls were calling on a sunny chilly evening walk this week.
On another walk, I heard a heavy cone drop followed by a nutcracker who repeatedly took the cone in bill and tried to fly back up into the tree, dropping it each time. I was tempted to try to wedge the cone up on a branch myself but thought that would just scare the bird away.
Walkin' Jim Stoltz died earlier this month.
There was an employee photo contest recently. You can check out the winners here. Be sure to click on the winning wildlife photo to get the whole picture.
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