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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Long run at altitude

I waited today until after 8 a.m. to head out, hoping the fog would lift. I went up Moon Drive (Black Mountain west of Lincoln) to just quarter of a mile or so short of a locked gate (I parked at a turnout, not knowing the gate was just ahead), and didn't have to go far up to get above the fog, which remained down in the valley until 9:30 or 10. The picture below was taken from a higher spot about an hour after the picture above, and the fog is still hovering but lifting.

I encountered a couple of guileless mule deer a short way into the run. They just stood and looked at me as I passed about 10 feet from them. I'm sure if I'd stopped or fished out the phone for a picture, they'd have left.

This trail started exactly 5 miles off the highway, 4.5 miles from the Moon Drive turnoff. I drove past the spot where I've been running a couple of times before, and the road went higher — exactly 2 miles past the previous spot's turnoff. Another 0.2 of a mile or so would have taken me to the gate.

Anyway, I stayed on what appeared to be the main road and it took me a good 4 miles from the car, with almost 800 feet of vertical. The car was parked at 5,600-odd feet, and the high spot about 3.5 miles distant was just over 6,400 feet.

At the end of four miles was this nondescript spot: the end of the road.

It's an overstatement to say the road was covered in scat, but there was a lot — most of it identifiable as the product of elk and deer.

Many of the piles looked like this, however. Most of it appeared to be fibrous but plant-filled; some seemed to have fur in it. I didn't poke it to get further analysis. I'll depend on one of my expert friends (Tom K, if you're out there ...) to advise me.

The weather was beautiful. Started out in the 40s, but was 65 by the time I finished almost two hours later. I'll probably return to this area, though I've exhausted most of the evident road exploration. I did see some more beargrass blooms today, probably around the 5,200-foot level.

Aside from a variety of small birds, including some camp robbers that accompanied me down for more than a mile, I spotted a couple of blue grouse, including this fellow who fluttered up into a tree just 10 feet or so from me. I stopped and watched him for a moment, including identifying the red wattle or crest on his head, before shooting this picture. If you're looking at this on a computer, I'd recommend clicking on the picture, then clicking it again to zoom it up. The bird is just left of and a bit above the middle of the frame.

9; 33; 134.5; 447.5
Posted by Mose, 11:30 AM


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