Monday, July 7, 2008

Hermano visitation

Finally time to write...
The past few weeks have felt like an extended vacation here in Zion. The work week between my Bryce Canyon/Cedar Breaks trip was very easy; we only visited the local canyons that are easily accessed and are done in one night. On the final work day, Steph, her sister (who was visiting), and I rappelled into Pine Creek, where I had heard a juvenile from the rim above the canyon on earlier visits. Pine Creek is a beautiful canyon. Very tight in places (extending your arm out to both sides will touch both canyon walls) and eroded smoothly, 'fluted' as they call it. The core area was easy to find; whitewash, feathers, and pellets everywhere. We immediately heard a juvenile calling. I retorted with contact whistles. We patiently listened and whistled for about 20 minutes, all the while the juveniles were calling. One juvenile popped his head over a ledge and peered down at us. Eventually, another juvenile flew in. They think our whistling is the adult owls calling to them because they have dinner for them. And it makes them screech excitedly for food. They are cloaked in white down feathers with two black marble eyes in the center. Rolling and shifting their heads, they focus on us, wondering where their parents are. After 10 minutes of observation, we decide to quit bothering them and continue down the canyon.
My brother then drove down from Pocatello to visit for my fourth of july break. After getting out of Pine Creek at about midnight, I met Luke back at basecamp, who had been patiently waiting for me (actually sleeping). We said our brotherly hullo's and talked into the night, making plans for the next day. We had a splendid time together over the next few days. We dropped back into Pine Creek, finding both adult owls (one very close up; it let us get within 5 feet of it, and probably would have let us pet it if we had tried!). Then hiked up the Narrows. And Angel's Landing. Found some more owls in Refrigerator Canyon and Hidden Canyon. Drove up the Kolob Terace Road and got to see a few California Condors just as they were leaving the roost for the day (I had heard there were condors in the park, but didn't know where...and you can get up very close to them). Luke was stoked. His first condors!! Seeing them is humbling...they are so huge and powerful. Their appearance seems to reflect some ancient wisdom that will never be revealed to us humans. Luke fed and pampered me, bless his little heart. His stay was all too short. He returned to Pocatello so he could get back to his hospital work, giving out medications and flipping pages, and getting sore knees.
And as for me...back to work tomorrow. We are headed out with the Park service biotechs to some technical canyons. I am still enjoying my daily adventures...but am also ready for this summer to start winding down! I only have 20 more days of work left...

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