river postcard #3: river creatures
River ecosystems are host to a huge variety of wild life. Rafting is a really nice way to see these animals up close without invading their territory too much - you're usually on the water in a boat, and they're usually hanging out on the shore.
On the Green River, we saw everything from reptiles like the water snake and Thompson's toad pictured here, (whose territory I totally invaded to get this close-up), plus a family of wild horses, mountain sheep, and a young male black bear.
The horses were gorgeous! As near as I could tell, there were three mares and two foals plus a stallion who did not want me to get too close to his family. The stallion is on the far left in the photo. He had a strawberry-blonde mane, and a white star on his forehead. The two little foals in the group had the same white star. One foal looked to be a recent addition to the group, with his mane still standing straight up and adorable knobby knees.
The mountain sheep we saw were exactly the color of the rocks and cliffs, and so well camouflaged they were almost invisible unless they were moving, or until they mooned us with their white rumps. This seemed to happen more than coincidence would explain.
At our campsite on night three, we found a humungous elk antler - 40+ inches long, and weighing at least 15 pounds (I would have loved to bring it home, but taking antlers is specifically forbidden by the BLM). It must have belonged to a large and very strong elk - hauling two of those things around must be exhausting.
We set out fairly early in the morning on day five, and saw a young black bear swimming across the river. The wind was blowing upstream, so he saw us before he smelled us, and was in a hurry to get across the river and up on the far bank as quickly as possible. As much as it was lovely to see him, I think all parties were relieved when were out of one another's way.