Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tails of South T Bar

This ones off topic, not fishing , just a story.


After a long Friday in the IT salt mines, Marie and I decided to get away for the weekend. We hurried to pack her CRV and headed for our thirty-five acre parcel of paradise on South T Bar ranch.

Three and a half hours later, we pulled into our makeshift driveway, as the sun was setting behind Waugh mountain. Driving to the campsite, we wove around prairie dog mounds and a fine crop of noxious, but extremely healthy, bull thistles in late summer bloom. I parked on a scrub oak and pinion knoll, getting a panoramic view of our jack rabbit meadow as dusk settled in.

We emptied the car, turned down the seats, set out the sleeping bags and snuggled into our folding camp chairs hoping to hear some coyotes before retiring. Twilight on the ranch is beautiful. The air gets soft and the earth darkens where it meets the sky. A sculpted edge of black mountain skyline surrounds you as night arrives and the first of a million stars make their appearance.

The night was cloudless and the moon was the color of french vanilla ice cream and casting shadows. The Coyote pack paid their respects;  just off to the west and very close. It seemed like they would be hunting our creek bed tonight. Our Jack Rabbit better be on the alert. He's big and gray, a wise and careful rabbit. He better be close to his hiding place tonight, deep in the Badgers old den. After hearing the coyotes, we called it a night and went to the car to listen to night sounds and calls from the hunting coyotes.

 In the middle of the night, we woke, hearing them hunting the meadow. My eye's needed to adjust and I tried to get the binoculars on them, but they were simply invisible noises. Close enough to the car to hear their feet padding through the grass as they ran past the car, but unseen. On the alert, I could hear large dogs barking, miles away but persistently closer.

To reach South T Bar, the dirt road had an easement through a sheep ranchers property. It was a usual occurrence for his six or seven Pyrennes dogs to escort our car (my car had their tooth marks imprinted on its bumper). They'd be standing, lying, and sitting around like white marble statues, until the moment they saw us. From our first appearance, at the base of the hill, to our final exit around a bend in the road, they chased and attacked the car. They made sure we knew that our presence was an intrusion before they returned honorably to their porches.

The distant  barking must be coming from some of the Pyrennes.The moon was bright and we saw two large white shapes, far down valley, rapidly getting closer as their warning grew louder. I could sense authority in the sounds of their barking as they closed in on the coyotes. Pyrennes guard duty, 24x7, protecting their flock.

We were in the middle of this show down, close enough to hear the air being forced from the coyote lungs as they ran nervously around us. Not wanting to give up their hunting, yet seeing, hearing, and probably smelling the white shapes approaching, ever closer. What a thrill! Alert with excitement; surrounded by invisible wild hunters and watching breathlessly as the two courageous white knights closed in to keep the forces of darkness in check.

The two Pyrenees arrived quickly. They marked our car in the moonlight, then proudly departed with tails held high to continue their vigilance into the night. Marie and I just grinned to each other and settled back into our sleeping bags. The loud woofs of the Pyrenees disappeared behind a ridge and then surface again farther away, ever on watch.

The next morning we made coffee, reminisced the nights excitement and decided to spend the day whacking the thistle crop into submission. After about an hour of search and destroy, Marie said "Look!" and I did.

Two Pyrenees were coming up the meadow straight at us. Our only experience with these dogs was the drive through their territory and it was never a friendly encounter. There was reason for concern. Marie said, "Are they going to be mean?" I looked at them, now about 50 yards away and one of their tails was wagging. As he approached, I put down my shovel and extended my hand to let him sniff it. Thankfully, they were incredible new friends, coming back to make amends for keeping us up all night. Break out the hot dogs!

Since they'd been up, chasing coyotes all night, they were tired and probably never made it back home, to the ranch. We set out some water and they lapped it up and both laid down by the car, at ease now and waiting for lunch and affection. These two dogs were beautiful and noble; intelligent faces with deep knowing dark eyes and black noses. Thick white coats a bit tattered from the nights crusade. Both wore collars with tags; Winni and Bear. Probably the mated parents of the sheep ranchers Pyrenees clan. .(they did get hot dogs).
From that day forward, each time we would travel to South T Bar to camp the property, they'd make the trip to visit us. They never forgot us and neither have we forgot them. For years, Marie's retirement dream is to raise Pyrenees puppies!

1 comment:

Natalie and my german shorthaired pointers said...

I always wanted to go to places such as this. I have two dogs and a cat, I am sure they would love to play in this open are.