SIGNS

Driving into The Moreno Valley Labor Day, 2012, I paused to consider this sign:

TLR….TLR….???   Oh yeah…. The Lone Ranger!  The movie was filming in the Moreno Valley and I heard rumors that Johnny Depp would occupy the home next to us.  I stayed alert for a rare Jack Sparrow sighting but no luck. Richard reminded me that we never see the Lone Ranger and Tonto unless we need help, so I guess we’re doing fine.

Lots of village locals worked as extras in the movie and a popular bar and grill in Angel Fire saluted the masked man and his sidekick.

Weary of looking for Movie Stars that live the high life, I kept to my task searching for wildlife.

Bears are a common sighting in the nearby village of Angel Fire where recently a resident awoke to strange noises in the early morning hours to find a large black bear sitting on his sofa eating leftover popcorn.  But up here at 9,000 ft. we have to settle for glimpses and signs. Several times  we have caught sight of the rear end of a very large cinnamon bear and a smaller black one just down the road in Burning Tree Meadow.

Earlier this spring we found huge paw prints high on the top of the glass door that opens onto the deck.  Unnerving!

Hiking the trails we often find signs that tell us that “The Bear” likes the same routes.

These two overturned logs could only have been moved by a bruin on the search for grubs.

Just last week we stepped around this sure sign.

Don’t think this Bear paused long enough to test the new Charmin.

Later the same day we found Bobcat scat.

Elk are high on my list of sightings but, unfortunately, more often than not, I usually have to settle again for signs that tell me the handsome animals have been here and gone.

I know the elk are eating well and following the same trails as we do because their droppings are everywhere:

As we hike we often follow along in their hoof prints:

When the hunters are not about, elk often visit our salt lick.  This unfortunate fellow received an injury somewhere on his body causing his rack to take on a “wonky” shape.

Along about September, the velvet begins to dry and fall away from the hardened racks of the bull elk.  Some folks I know find the discarded velvet but I have never been that lucky.  To help the velvet shedding process along, bulls thrust their racks into bushes and small trees rubbing away the remnants of the velvet that provided the blood flow to the soft antlers. Pitiful, little defenseless conifer trees  mauled by bull elk cleaning and polishing their racks are everywhere in the forests and meadows. The tree in the photo below is a sure sign that a big bull wandered by and walked away with a shiny, polished rack.

Although elk roam everywhere in the valley, you have to be at the right place at the right time or all you will ever see are the SIGNS:

*****

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