A winter storm warning put a crimp in our plans for a long spring hike this past Saturday. Instead, we checked out the weather, saw the storm heading our way from the northwest and decided to head southeast and see if we could outrun it.
Surprisingly, our plan worked. We ended up at the Wildlife Management Area at the southern end of Canyon Ferry Lake under blue skies. Plenty of wind, but no snow.
We watched the front heading our way, but it hung over the mountains long enough for us to find a calm little cove that was sheltering hundreds of white pelicans.
At first we saw a few determinedly flying into the wind.
More and more passed us, until we found them hanging out on a couple of islands in the sheltered cove. There were hundreds of them.
They’d take off, land, take off again, circle around, and land again. Sometime they seemed to group together for an important discussion, and then take off again.
They were gorgeous.
We wandered back along an irrigation ditch, marveling at the fact that the weather hadn’t caught us yet,
and spooked a trio of sandhill cranes, who took off into the wind, chattering their alarm.
The discoveries didn’t end there. We decided to explore Avalanche Gulch on the way home, and on the way in spied a large herd of elk in a stubble field. Most were resting, but there were plenty of sentries keeping a keen lookout.
Then, to top it off, a group of mountain goats was grazing on the hillside at the mouth of the canyon!
Not too shabby.