After breakfast this morning, Paula noticed an odd lump on a low branch a few yards from our campsite. Closer inspection revealed that it was an owl.
It was obviously trying to get a good day’s sleep, so we left it to its owly dreams, and went on the cave tour.
Lehman caves are noted for their fine collection of cave shields, circular disks, often with stalactites dripping from the bottom.
They also have cave bacon.
Back in camp we found a flock of wild turkeys wandering through the campsite.
The turkeys were introduced down in the valley for hunting, but they turned out to be highland turkeys (or at least smart enough to get away from hunters) so they are colonizing the national park. Oh, yes, and the owl was still there, though moved to a different branch.
According to the bird books in the visitor center, it’s a juvenile Northern Saw-Whet Owl. It looks like it had just been munching on something small and feathery.
After lunch it started to cloud over, but we headed back up to 10,000 feet to hike the bristlecone pine trail. This is the park that had the oldest individual tree known in the world. I say ‘had’, because they cut it down to find out how old it was. It turned out to be 4,600 years old. They have a slice of it in the visitor center. I’m not sure if the have found older bristlecones yet, but for a long time that was the record holder.
After a few minutes of enjoying the bristlecones, the wind came up and we felt a few drops of rain, so we headed back down the hill to the trailhead, then drove back to our camp at 7,700 feet. The air feels luxuriously rich down here, after gasping for breath at 10,000 feet.
Yes, the owl is still there.