Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Caribou and Folded Mountain in Canada

First off I have a very important question.

Why do Canadians spell labor "labour" but spell caribou "cariboo"?

Just curious.

I suppose they could ask us the same question.


We had the fortune of several good caribou sightings along the way. I got some of the best photos I've ever taken of them.

I love caribou antlers. I think I might even like them more than moose antlers. They are just so interesting. During the winter months, they use the broad paddles at the top to clear away snow and find food.

Great shot, except for whatever got in the way in the corner.

Look at their feet. They have toe-like appendages in two rows above their hooves. I never knew that.

Caribou are, I believe, the only antlered animal where the females also have antlers. Their antlers are much smaller than the males. This gal is in the midst of shedding her velvet.

Antlers grow and fall off (shed) each year. To provide them with the blood supply they need to grow, they're covered in fur until a certain time of the season when it sloughs off in a bloody mess. Enlarge the photo (by clicking on it) to get a better view of her antlers.

They help the shedding process by scraping against trees and brush. When it's all off, the antlers are often stained with dried blood and they're a beautiful brown color. As they endure "wear and tear" through the rest of the season, they become lighter in color. If you come across some shed antlers on the forest floor, they're likely to have a bleached look, being white or grey in color. 

I'd always heard the term "velvet" and imagined it to be sort of like felt. Last year at the antler store near Sterling (on the Kenai Peninsula) we found a caribou antler still in velvet. It's actually a thick short fur.

It feels so good to touch, I can see why it's called velvet.

I'm really glad for this special spot on the antler we bought. It shows how thick the fur is.

We asked the guy at the store if it would shed and become a mess. He said it wouldn't, and so far he's right.

I can't imagine how the huge antlers of the males grow every year. What a feat that is, especially with moose.


The Fisherman pulled over at a special landmark so I could see Folded Mountain. We pulled over and I didn't know what for until he said, "Look up across the road." 


Here's what the sign said about it.

I took photos of the whole mountain in close-up segments from left to right.



Here I went back to the section before and zoomed in a little more.


I love this mountain!

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