Right Place, Wrong Time

Long days give way to long nights, but not yet.. We went north to where the canyon meets the spruce. Where red rock and aspen intersect. There is nowhere else like it. 8,000 feet up, an island of dark green surrounded by a fractured red and tan rock. Miles of sage, stone and sand. Except for here. This plateau is the exception not the rule.

We came for the explosion of wings that herald the discovery of a dusky grouse. The search for these birds in this state not known for them has become one that seems like it won’t end for me. A series of misadventures and bad luck. The longer the search though, the more I am starting to like these birds. A small part of me hopes that the birds will continue their wily ways. That I will continue walking just past or right under them. That the dry grasses don’t hold enough scent for my keen nosed dog to discover. They are becoming more and more an object of fascination with every day I search and don’t find. They stayed fascinating this weekend.

We searched meadow edges
Searched water
Even found signs of their passing
Hard to see but there’s a group of turkeys hiding out in this thick stand of spruce
Sage even tried a dust bath to channel her inner grouse, to no avail
We searched burns of a year ago
So much canyon you can hardly even see halfway down..
Common Juniper fruits
Mainly spent the day stepping over logs
Feeling small
Keeping the machine fueled up
We found beautiful meadows surrounded by thick forest, almost the normal up here

A meadow full of distractions. 12 turkeys sauntered up the hill and out of view. Their scent remained and the dog was often distracted from her zig-zagged runs to follow her nose into the dense trees. The best distraction of the day came when a lonely mourning dove was discovered feeding on seeds in the meadow. Not what we came for but a great chance that came from nothing. Flap of wings, CRACK!, puff of feathers, bird in the hand. The rule of the more you walk the more you find held true yet again, this time it even came with a bird.

No grouse to be found but a solitary dove held the dogs attention
Wrong bird
Looking in, trees looking back

Dog exhausted and feet sore, a good way to end a day regardless of what you found. Warm fires and crisp evenings, fall is coming even if the leaves don’t show it yet.

The ‘No Grouse Consolation Gin+Tonic’, my specialty drink
A full day outta the dog
Day 2 cup full of hope

A new valley, steep sides covered in spruce and aspen. The birds had us beat.

She’s wondering how it takes me so long to get up a hill
Old road new visitors
Even the dog threw in the towel at the end

It was not to be. We went home without the sight of a grouse but with some good miles on the boots, truck and paws. Appreciation of the bird that eluded us, appreciation for the public land we are free to roam and appreciation for good company in good places. Cheers to the summer and lets bring in the fall!

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