Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pronghorn on the Prairie

As we departed Mt. Rushmore, Brad has me consult the map to find a running trail for him. We head out to the Wildlife Loop to access a 3 mile trail through the prairie. We decide to check it out. We leave our packs in the truck and set out for a quick jaunt. After crossing a dry river bed, we made away among wild flowers and bison patties up over some rolling hills. (Again, don’t these people believe in switch backs? Each trail that contained an ascent was dead-on, straight up. Devils.) We see a couple of pronghorns and mule deer among the hillsides. Without my pack with my trusty whistle and other assorted goods, I pick up a rock. Brad exclaims, “Hey, why did you pick up the rock?” I answer, “Don’t worry about it,” having seen the look of “oh shit” on his face when I confirmed the bobcat print earlier that day. The next thing I hear is his shuffling step to pick up a rock, too. As we crest a hill and decide to head back to the car and subsequently, camp and dinner, he queries, “So, again, I ask, why did you pick up that rock?” I sigh and reply, “It is nearly dusk, I do not know the area, there are herbivores here, and it is wildlife loop. Who else do you know would be hungry around now?”

The look of comprehension and realization was priceless. Later, jus before the trailhead, I discarded my rock. I heard a second drop behind me. It was like having a twin…

Over dinner, Brad decides to run along the nearby horse trails rather than the rocks along the prairie trail (he has broken his ankle once and has no desire to do it again). We opt to hike that same trail the next morning. On Friday, as we peaked the first hill, Brad points out that we stirred two pronghorns, who are now running across our path to the distance hill. We stop and wait for them to make their way over, thus allowing them to smell who/what we are now that the wind is in their favor. We start slowly, me watching the very protective male as much as he is watching us. As we continue down the path, the pronghorns continue to move back from whence they came. With our backs to them, I urge Brad to check behind him often, respecting the distance but making sure the male knows we are watching him, too.

As we continue down into the scenic riparian area we remark that this trail’s description is highly underrated by the trail map. We loved this trail. It was the best little three mile warm-up ever. Toward the end of the trail, we meander along a brook and diverse riparian area. Out of nowhere, Brad erupts in a “Ga--aaahhh!!!” I turn and see a small bunny rabbit poised perfectly still next to a large bush. Brad had disturbed his previous spot, so the bunny moved, Brad screamed, and the buny froze. Classic. It was a good thing he did not have that rock from the day prior.

As exited the Wildlife Loop, we came upon a pronghorn and her two young.

1 comment:

Tidden Tales said...

hhahahahaha I think I peeded a little bit about the bunny story!!!! - Mia