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(Updated) Armageddon Hits the Cathedral of Nature

It must be mere impressionism because it really doesn't make sense that a mountain biker would see more wildlife than a hiker, but such has been my experience. On today's ride I saw a bobcat stop in the middle of the forest road, a hundred yards ahead of Coffee Girl and me, and then do a double-take. Connected by a leash tied to my hip, we must have looked like a pretty strange animal to that bobcat. After a couple seconds it scampered off. There's no mistaking that short tail.

Speaking of impressionism is it really true that the middle of a forest is as depopulated of wildlife as it seems, or do too-many-trees simply get in the way of seeing what animals are there? Wildlife biologists must know the answer to that. My version of common sense -- which could be mistaken -- is that there just isn't as much to eat in the middle of a pine tree monoculture as there is at the edge of a forest, or for that matter, in somebody's backyard on the edge of town. You'd think the locations that offer the greatest variety, such as forest glades or forest/grassland boundaries, would have more goodies.

This certainly belies the notions of the standard, suburban, coffee-table-book, environmentalist-sentimentalist. Some journalist must have had them in mind recently when he wrote about the Whitewater-Baldy fire, the biggest in New Mexican history...

...threatening the narrowheaded garter snake, the Mexican garter snake, and a species of frog. It must have been a slow news day.

Environmentalist corporations and think tanks exploit forest fires to try to sell their sinking climate change bogeyman. They won't put any of the blame on the modern forest management policy of Non-Use (by homo sapiens), which replaced the Multiple-Use that was used prior to the last couple decades.

Nowhere is there a better example of how fanatical and inescapable the Metropolitan Bubble Syndrome is than the near ban on timber harvesting in national forests.

Update for RV "Loose-Caravan" for Outdoorsmen-Boondockers who exercise: soon I'll take what I've learned from a month of successful caravanning with the Mobile Kodger group, and apply it to a completely new group dedicated to boondocking and outdoor interests that involve some level of exercise (hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, rock collecting, off leash dog walking, etc. -- but not four wheeling, satellite TV, potlucks, social science workshops, etc.) 

I'd love to hear from people who are interested and have a boondock-worthy rig. Currently I'm in Springerville AZ. Email me at  ; those are underlines, not hyphens.


Unknown said…
An old-timer friend of mine told me that we don't see things in the forest because we don't "see."

As a young boy, his grandfather taught him to shift is vision slightly, bringing into focus all sorts of "invisible" life.

I wonder how many things we miss every single day because we've forgotten how to "see?"
Tesaje said…
Maria is right. The sexy animals like the big predators and big game do prefer the verge areas and that is what we humans selectively see. More open with cover is good hunting grounds. Room to run whereas the forests are hard to fun in. There are lots of forest critters but often are not the kinds we take notice of. And we tend to be a lot noisier in forests to scare them away.

IF the bike sees more, perhaps it is because you can cover more ground than on foot so the selection area is larger.
You might be amazed of what goes on at night time...that is when the animals are active.
Anonymous said…
Slightly off topic, but do you carry a gun? I'm just curious since you ride your bike out in the wilderness and could encounter mountain lions, bears, a pack of coyotes, or other predators that might attack a human if they were desperate enough for food or startled because they were taken by surprise when you roll up on them. Bikes can be pretty quiet actually, and I've taken animals by surprise.

- Dan
Tesaje and Maria, yes, I do my mountain biking on dirt roads that are more open than hiking trails, and as you suggested, I am covering more ground.

No gun. But I do carry a hunting knife and pepper spray on a waist belt. That is meant for loose pit bulls (when going by houses)than wildlife per se.
Bob Giddings said…
Bubbles of perception are inescapable as long as you are in motion. Okay, you got out of town. You left the car behind. But that bike of yours is a bubble too. So is walking.

Hey, you don't see spiders chasing no flies.

Next time you are in a particularly "barren" stretch of forest, try this experiment: get off the dang thing, walk away a hundred yards or so, and sit down. Don't move. Be quiet. In a half hour or so, if you can stand it, you'll find all sorts of critters get over you as soon as you get over yourself. And come out about their business.

I've found this trick works even in what appears to be empty desert. It sounds simple. But it ain't as easy as it sounds.
Anonymous said…
How about tenting? Honestly, the more I look into the potential hassle and expense of Rvs, tenting becomes more appealing. Small fuel efficient vehicle, nice tent (maybe canvas [like Springbar or Kodiak]and a lighter type [Eureka brand]), plus a small cargo trailer. Have you made any decisions on your new setup?