This hike reminded me of a couple of things:
We took our time and had one of our epic rambling conversations that seem to dumbfound people around us...always a good time. Annie smelled everything and seemed to enjoy it, although she was a bit peeved I wouldn't let her roll in the dead deer.
About half way up (actually I have no concept of distance, let's just say it was somewhere on the trail, on the going up bit), Becca spotted a chicken-sized bird. I mistakenly went all smarty-pants and called it a Sage Grouse. I was WRONG *forehead smack*, it was a Dusky (or Blue) Grouse. Not only was I wrong but A) I made random strangers think I was photographing them, they just happened to be walking on the trail just above the bird and saw me but not the bird...of course. And B) I then felt like I had to stop them and explain to said strangers that I wasn't a crazy stalker lady, crouching around taking unflattering photos of strangers, but there was a bird. I pointed out the bird and then C) gave them the wrong name.
Sorry random strangers, but let that be a lesson to you, random strangers are not to be trusted.
I did get the sex and the usual habitat right though. You will usually see them around Tony Grove, they like dense conifer or aspen meadows with lots of sage. So we named him Chuck and as we made our way up the trail so did he...except Chuck feels that he is above the rules and cut the switchbacks. Personally I think Chuck digs us, every time we'd cross his path he'd fan his tail feathers and puff up the things on his neck (that's a technical term).
All in all it was a pretty great way to spend a couple of hours, even if we did have to break Chuck's heart and leave him high and dry by the caves. Ain't that the way it always goes?
Here is a link to an article about Chuck, OK it is just about Dusky Grouse in general, but Chuck deserves his own article.
Ok, now find the bird...
Can you see it now?
This is Chuck showing off for us.
Ok, now find him again...
Annie did not like the wind at the caves.
Chuck found us again.
The panoramic view on the way down, in three parts, #1