Monday, August 26, 2019

Glacier National Park Animals – 3 of 3

August 16, 2015 by  
Filed under Nature

Here’s the 3rd Glacier post – Animals.  We did not see moose or bear, but others did and we had some other great sightings of animals during our journey to Glacier National Park.

goldeneye in front of rock caterpillar goat dislodging rocks
bee baby quail Goats at lodge
ptarmigan and baby clark's nutcracker marmot from bob
  •  a female goldeneye,
  • a future flutterby,
  • a mountain goat that dislodged a huge rock that came rolling down the hill almost hitting someone in our group,
  • a bee on a flower,
  • a baby quail about 1.5″ long,
  • sheep (goats?) strolling by the lodge,
  • a ptarmigan (or grouse?) with her chick,
  • a Clark’s nutcracker and
  • a marmot.
  • Below is another photo of the Goldeneye and her brood as they were being blown down the lake.  She had 6 “kids” and they were swimming up, being blown down, swimming up, being blown down – it was very funny and quite a challenge to get them into frame at high zoom.  Enlarge the one below – it’s really cute!  Click the back button to return to post.
golden eye family tight


Hiking Etiquette – Listening to nature

June 22, 2015 by  
Filed under Nature, Trail Tips, Uncommon Sense

I was MORTIFIED the other day when hiking with a regular hiking group.

We started at Muir Woods and I wanted to go ahead to warm up before our climb.  Plus, the quiet of Muir Woods early in the morning is magical.  I passed a gentleman and his son experiencing the wonder of this national monument.  I overheard the tourist quietly challenging his son to find a more wondrous experience.  He said it’s better than being in church.   I stopped to point out a few of the natural wonders with them.  We found ourselves whispering because the silence of the woods was serene and profound.  There’s even a sign asking people to respect the quiet of the woods.

Towards the end of the woods, I heard a cacophony of sound resonating thru the forest.  I knew immediately that it was “my” hiking group approaching.  I felt embarrassed.  The man and his son pulled to the side so the group could pass and I told him to go along because – thankfully – we were heading up a trail out of Muir Woods.

This hike was on the small side for this group – maybe 10 people, vs. the usual 15 to 20.  Imagine what that kind of noise an even larger group would have made.  This is a nature experience people go to early so they can enjoy the serenity and majesty of the big trees.

Large groups often have multiple conversations going on and people have to speak more loudly as they compete to be heard.  Long ago a woman, standing on a bridge over the stream at Muir Woods, asked our small group of 4 to be quiet.  I thanked her for reminding me.   I have a friend who hikes behind just so he can hear the sounds of nature.  Many times, I’ve had to remind  our hiking group to please be quiet as we approach and are near water.   I wish I did not have to remind people that part of the experience of hiking – in addition to the EXERCISE and the socialization –  is being able to hear the birds and the water and the wind.

I am going to request RADIO SILENCE the next time I lead an early morning group through Muir Woods.  Good luck to me.

Does this post resonate with you?  Or tick you off?  Either way, thanks for reading!

Utah Adventure 2014

November 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Nature, Travel

Utah was COLD this journey.   We arrived just in time for the Polar Vortex.  18 degrees at night, hiking during the day between 30 and 40.   BRRR and Bundled Up!  Below photos show what happens when you’re in the right place at the right timeBe sure to click on the 2nd (upside down split) for a close up – she’s magical and on SOLID rock.  Use back button to return to post.

Right Place, Right Time

Right Place, Right Time!

Upside down split at Delicate Arch

Upside down split at Delicate Arch

Even the bunnies and jack rabbits were not moving.


Chilled-out bunny rabbit

Cold Jack rabbit

Chilled-out jack rabbit

We went from Bryce to Moab and back to Bryce.  We escaped Bryce as the snow and sleet arrived.   Weather manages hiking journeys!


Bryce Hoodoos

Fiery Furnace

Fiery Furnace Arches National Park

It’s like visiting another planet.  Stunning scenery, great hiking, colors, layers…a grand adventure!  The drive from Moab thru Capitol Reef to Bryce, thru Zion and back to the freeway is the most spectacular drive imaginable.  But we had to watch for deer leaping into the road at sunset.  Bob is a great driver!

Bryce Windows

Bryce Windows

Island in the Sky, Canyonlands

Island in the Sky, Canyonlands

My favorite hike on the planet is a “little” 3 mile loop in Bryce called Peekaboo.  You’re IN the hoodoos.  Bryce windows photos was taken on this hike.  Click on any photo to enlarge; click back button to return to post.

Bob and Cairn

Bob and Cairn

Bryce Sky

Bryce Sky

Cairns are our friends.  You can search cairn and see lots of other great cairn photos on this blog.

Using POLES on downhill

Using POLES on downhill

Binocular Biomechanics

Binocular Biomechanics, Dead Horse State Park

Rubber tips grip the rocks.  We ALWAYS carry our rubber tips with us.  Wide leg stance saves the back and stabilizes for looking at views.

Besides bunnies, we saw a golden eagle on land, a golden eagle flying, magpies and buffalo!  One morning I got up early to try to photograph the sunrise at Bryce.  Clearly I need to take Cousin Howard’s course on sunrise photography!

Bryce Sunrise

Bryce Sunrise

Last Journey with more snow, Peekaboo

Last Journey with more snow, Peekaboo

Happy Holidays!  Safe Journeys!


Our World

November 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Nature, Our World

This is a 17 minute audio file – a Science Friday segment – that puts some of our global problems in perspective.

Thanksgiving Hiking Pole Adventure in Utah

December 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Gallery, Gear, Travel

We arrived to RAIN in Las Vegas and snow on the roads to Moab.   Even over a foot of snow and cold mornings did not stop us from enjoying the magic of the Utah National Parks.  Our first day included 2 short hikes in Arches  (Park Avenue & Delicate Arch), then we went to Canyonlands Island in the Sky.  We arrived to find NO ONE in the gray and snow-covered parking lot.  No one had hiked the Neck Springs trail * since it had snowed.  We had to find our way by locating what we thought were cairns – little snow pyramids.  We were the footprints, so the next hikers had a clue where to go 🙂

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird

Snow-covered Cairn

Snow-covered Cairn

Natural Lichen Smiley-Face

Natural Lichen Smiley-Face

Island in the Sky, Canyonlands

Island in the Sky, Canyonlands

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

Oak Leaves

Oak Leaves

We explored some new trails in Arches & Canyonlands as well as visited some old favorites.  Weather has always managed our Thanksgiving journey to Utah.  We had great gear and felt well-prepared as we headed out on cold mornings.  Yaktrax are like tire chains for your feet – they kept us  from slipping and sliding on icy trails.   Here’s a link to the ones we like:  Yaktrax Pro  Get one size larger than you think you’ll need.  We think the sizing is a bit off.

Yes, that is Bob walking down away from Delicate Arch.

Where's the trail?

Where’s the trail?

Made it to the top!

Made it to the top!



Bob learned rock climbing as a youth.  He talked, encouraged, even bullied me thru some of the most difficult terrain I’d ever been on.  Because of the wet conditions, the rocks were not as grippy.  I made it, but only with the help of my hiking buddy.  Putting poles “away” on packs:  You need a pack that can accommodate this.  Grips down, tips up.  Rubber tips affixed for safety.  We affix the poles by looping  a strap from the pack thru the pole straps and snugging them up towards the pack.  Regarding our packs – I often snug up a seminar participant’s pack.  It helps the pack be more a part of you and less floppy (which can send you off balance.)  It always feels better 🙂

A real trail in Needles District

A real trail in Needles District

Bob crab-walking down steep rock in Arches

Bob crab-walking down steep rock in Arches

Time to put away camera & poles so we can climb

Time to put away camera & poles so we can climb

That's an Ice Pond!

That’s an Ice Pond!

Water everywhere!  Park Avenue, Arches

Water everywhere! Park Avenue, Arches

Yes, it's a road

Yes, it’s a road

The day we wanted to go to Bryce it was 1 degree.  We managed a short loop on our last day and it was warmer and magical!  You can see (bottom middle below) the trail condition – very narrow – making pole use difficult.  We did not have our snow baskets with us 🙁

The Peek-a-boo loop is one of my favorites.  It’s short, but you’re in the Hoodoos.  To get to it and back, it’s about 3 miles – so a total of about 6 miles.  In these conditions, it took us 2 hours to do the 3 mile loop.  That’s SLOW!  You can see that it was starting to cloud up towards the end of our hike.  Nice way to end a week of hiking in Utah!  When we have more time for a longer loop, we like the Fairyland Trail.

Bryce Canyon (Large) 3 kings (Large) ice cream tops (Large)
Peekaboo sign and clouds (Large) Bryce Snow Trail (Large) Bryce Gear (Large)

and finally – with my obsession with trekking poles and cairns 🙂   I love to do a little Cairn-Topping as I hike.  Because of the storm that came thru a few days before we arrived, many of the cairns were in need of a little maintenance 🙂

Cairn and Poles (Large)

* Neck Springs Trail – the longest 5.8 mile hike I’ve ever done.  This glorious trail heads down into a canyon and then back up onto the mesa.  It’s one of my favorite hikes on the planet and suitable for moderate level hikers.  If you head to Moab, put it on your list.  Our favorite place to stay in Moab?  Aarchway Inn – tell Pam I sent you 🙂

Harmonica for Health

November 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Nature, Our World

In response to my 2013 Holiday Gift Guide Newsletter, I got this nice response from Victor – Harmonica Joy Health Club International, California:

“You may want to consider adding the harmonica, a simple portable inexpensive charming musical instrument, for good physical and emotional health. Refer to YouTube video called Harmonica Health and Delight. ”
Dear AdventureBuddies readers:  Here it is 🙂

This serendipitous response came on the same day as my Guest Post about what to pack where author Stratton suggests a harmonica.  One day, during a practice hike at the Tilden Botanic Gardens (Berkeley, CA), we enjoyed the lovely,  melodic, even poignant  sounds of a lone nature-lover soulfully playing his harmonica.  It was magical, musical and inspiring.

The Tilden Botanic Gardens is free and is like visiting the entire state of CA (botanically) in about 2 hours.  It’s quite a gem in the East Bay Regional Park District system.  I lead practice pole hikes there year-round. Excerpt from EB Parks’ website: 

CA is a vast region of many floral areas, such as seacoast bluffs and coastal mountains, interior valleys, arid foothills, alpine zones, and two kinds of desert.  California embraces nearly 160,000 square miles – imagine 160,000 square miles of California set in a garden that can be walked in a day.

Practice Pole Hike at Black Diamond Mines Regional Park in Antioch

May 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Nature, Poles

On our most recent Practice Pole Hike at Black Diamond Mines Regional Park, we saw some amazing flowers, including this lovely Mariposa Lilly.  Photo taken by Diane of Lafayette on her I-phone – amazing 🙂

On practice Pole Hikes, we refine skills learned in the Basic Skills class AND prior participants of poles classes can come to practice, review and learn new skills.  Black Diamond is a park we do early in the year (in the summer, it’s an oven) and it’s a great place to really use poles for power on the up hill climbs and for support on the steep downhill parts.  The sandstone provides good footing, even when wet.   Poles classes and practice hikes are listed on the calendar 🙂

Mariposa Black Diamond

KQED Perspective – Coyotes By Michael Ellis

April 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Nature

Thank you Michael for your permission to post this excellent perspective for those who have not heard it. 🙂

The coyote figures in many Native American myths as the creator, the fool, the transformer and the prankster.  In fact the word-coyote-is an Aztec word which means – trickster.  Well they certainly have tricked their way into 49 states, throughout Canada and all the way south to Panama.   Coyotes are by far the most successful large carnivore in North America.  And since the gray wolf has been extirpated throughout the Eastern United States the coyote moved in from the West and now thrives in places it never did before.   One even showed up in Central Park in New York City several years ago.  And our own Golden Gate Park has resident coyotes. We are talking adaptable and flexible.

Coyotes have greatly extended their range and increased in numbers because they can exploit edge habitat.  That is open grass or brush next to wooded areas, plenty of cover and food nearby- hmm sounds like the Suburbs! Essentially we have modified the wild environment to perfectly suit coyotes, whereas other large predators like mountain lions and wolves have decreased in population.

Coyotes usually hunt in pairs and it is true that in urban areas coyotes will take domestic cats and small dogs.   They are extremely flexible in their diet and nearly everything is considered food from garbage and carrion to deer and birds.  During the late summer and early fall they eat a lot of berries as well.

Coyotes originally evolved in the Great Plains of North America during the Pleistocene era, 1.8 million years ago, relatively recently.  They are so closely related to both the gray wolf and the domestic dog that they can hybridize easily with both.  There are coy-dogs and coy-wolfs, rare but it happens.

The breeding season is limited to the early spring when 6 pups are born. Both male and female help provision the young and occasionally the offspring from the previous years stick around to help as well. Hate em or love em, coyotes are here to stay.  Oh and by the way, they have never been known to actively hunt roadrunners. Beep beep.  This is Michael Ellis with a Perspective.

Go NOW – Springtime Splendor

April 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Nature

Mt. Tam in the Springtime – after a rain – hillsides COVERED with colorshow-stopping splendor (forgive my little point and shoot – click on any photo to enlarge, click back button to return to post):

Lupine hillside (Large) Purple Larkspur (Large)
BBE (Large) Swabbie (Large)

Coastal trail is alive with flowers right now – hillsides of purple lupine.   Near Rock Springs we see yellow/gold hillsides.  Cream cups are one of my favorites 🙂  This kind of display is really when you want to be able to look at something besides your feet while enjoying your buddies and the outdoors – we love our poles!

Cream Cup and Goldfields (Large) 2 cream cups (Large)
Hikers and lupine hillside (Large) BBE Blue (Large)

Above hikers on near purple lupine hillside on Coastal Trail – north of Pantoll Ranger Station.  The baby blue eyes (2 pictured) literally cover several hillsides.  Go now, it’s as good as it gets.

Tuck your pant legs into your socks if you don’t have gaiters.  Do a tick check periodically and especially before you get into your car.  Happy Trails!

Pole Shadow (Large)  I like how my poles

were shadowed in this hillside shot.

This yellow/gold hillside

is just West of Rock Springs

parking lot and is stunning!




Desert Hiking & Desert Horse-back Riding

March 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Nature, Travel

Anza Borrego Desert State Park:   This very accessible desert is full of wonderful places to explore – canyons, caves, mesas, nature trails and more.  Borrego Springs is the main town and has lots of great accommodations – below you can see the main street was decked out for President’s Day.

Desert Light (Large) Borrego Springs Presidents Day (Large)
Wind Caves (Large) Sleepy Bighorn (Large)

A quick flight to San Diego and a short drive over the mountain and we’re there.  At the top of the mountain, we stop in the lovely town of Julian and pick up some goodies from my favorite shop – the Julian Tea Company – and  pies from the Julian Pie Company.

We hiked thru the wind caves, enjoyed the desert terrain (carefully) and rode thru an Ocotillo Forest.  We saw bighorn sheep in Palm Canyon.  Look for the people stopped and staring and you’ll see sheep.

Bob Stuck (Large) Cholla (Large)
Comet (Large) Canter (Large)

Hiking thru big rocks can be tricky – ha ha, Bob got stuck.Sandra and  Spats (Large)

Watch out for “jumping” cholla!  They pop out as you walk or ride by.  We had to be hyper-aware and get off our horses periodically to check their legs as we rode thru the many desert trails.  The stream crossings were fun.  My horse (Comet – above) shook violently all over after every crossing.  The first time was quite a surprise  🙂

We recommend a walk around the lovely Nature Center to become familiar with the plants before you head out hiking.  It’s nice to know what you’re seeing and what to watch out for.

If you like to ride – check out SmokeTree Arabian Ranch.  Dr. Sandra has quite a variety of lovely equine experiences – the horses are sublime and the scenery is stunning 🙂

As always, click on any photo to enlarge and click the back button to return to post.  We recommend the first photo in this post.  The afternoon light on the cactus was shimmering.

 Bob and Jayah Riding (Large)








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