Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gorgeous Esmae Photo, and Update

This is my favorite photo of Esmae ever taken so far. The photographer is Cindy Sherman, who did our wedding photos. Naturally we didn't have traditional family photos and instead we had her take photos of the "family" of pets, Esmae included. It's super hard to get a good photo of a black animal and so I am thrilled that in this one her eye shows.

Esmae seems to be doing just fine. She doesn't love her new diet, and I think that the new grain is probably not a big hit overall, nor is the metabolic support supplement, but she is eating it. Arthur the goat wanted to get his share so I ended up having to use feed bags for the horses twice a day to make sure they get their share of the dewormer, supplement and grain without sharing or getting some of the other horse's. Rather a pain. But the amusing part is that Esmae (smart horse!) knows she has a bag on her face and waits for it to get off, giving me a muffled whinny when in her opinion I am taking too long. Buster, in contrast, doesn't seem to get it so he sticks the bag in the water and can't figure out why he isn't getting any. Likewise, he puts it in the hay and tries to eat hay with a bag on his face. I think Esmae and I give him the same look of sort of sad amusement.

Esmae's lunging is going ok, though not great as I am not great at giving her the right cues or corrections to keep her on the rail and she wants to cut in on me on one side. Also, she goes instantly to a trot, and will canter when asked, but getting her into a walk again vs a stop is difficult. I contacted a local Pat Parelli trainer who taught a workshop I went to and I'll see if she can come out and give us some pointers. Buster has been lunging too.

The goats are on a diet too since they now have 4 hours of pasture per day instead of 10 to 12. I make sure they have hay accessible in their goat house - which the horses cannot access - and as they are a little plump, it should not hurt them any. They prefer to be with the horses; I offered them pasture on the other side of the fence and they declined.

Lola and Edwin appear to be in love. They take naps cuddled together and hang out away from the other goats at times. Lola is intact and Edwin is neutered - I think he gets protective of her and affectionate despite his inability to perform. It's nice to see how far she has come, from being a bit timid of people to always coming up to me to see if I have a treat. She also stands still for pets most of the time now rather than trying to leave the scene. She hollered the other day and I think she was stepped on by a horse or something - she took all weight off a back leg and laid down. But, within a half hour she was using it again with a limp, and I felt no breaks. The next morning she seemed fine on it. Poor kid, it's hard when you can't really be of any comfort to them.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Very Big Python

Driving along a sandy road, we came across a python who was entering the grass on the left of us. We got out of the car and watched as the python made its way through the grass and climbed a nearby tree, looking down at us from its perch. I was surprised by how close we could stand to the snake, while it just looked down at us. It blended in well, and I was surprised by how effortlessly it seemed to climb the tree. It was the largest and most active African snake I got a chance to see, and as always, I was thrilled to see something in the wild I'd never seen before.

The snake was thick, but there was not an obvious bulge where it had eaten something. The other day on Animal Planet I saw a sort of disturbing episode of Untamed and Uncut where some family on safari came across a phython that had just eaten something HUGE and it was laying there unable to move. The python got nervous as the people approached because they were getting too close. It couldn't move with the big meal, so it regurgitated the baby antelope it had just eaten. This means that it waited for a meal, had a successful hunt, went to the trouble of eating it and making and using a lot of saliva in the process, and then took the time to swallow it - all for nothing. And the baby antelope died in vain too, not getting to be a meal for the predator that took it. (Though in Africa, some other predators no doubt took advantage of the meal). This is really too bad - the guide should have moved the people back and not allowed them to stress the snake, if the people didn't have the sense to move back themselves.

Believe it or not, the python I saw was a beautiful animal. That trip I gained a new respect for snakes.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Cobra in the Grass

Okay, I admit it, I was terribly proud of myself for spotting this cobra. We had been sittong on the edge of a wet grassy savannah area in Botswana and the other people in the car, two tourists and two guides, were looking at a snake eagle in a tree. Since birds are boring to me, I was looking at the grass and all around for anything else. At first I thought it could be a stick but something wasn't quite right - so I looked with binoculars and found a cobra with it's hood spred, hunting in the grass. I had never seen one before and it is REALLY hard to be the first to spot anything since the guides are soooooo good at it. I watched for awhile and then pointed it out, once I was sure it was really a snake - and we all watched it hunt for awhile. Then the cobra folded up and disappeared.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Puff Adder

Usually when I go to Africa, I hope each time NOT to see snakes. But after my last trip I have to amend that to I hope to see them but not get bit by them! I saw three types of snakes on my last journey and really found them fascinating, and not as icky as I'd imagined.

We came across this puff adder on a dry, sandy road in northern Botswana. After the vehicle passed over it (it was between the tires) our guide let us get out and walk back to see it up close. He said that puff adders play dead for a time and so it was safe. I once saw a Zebra in Kenya that had most likely been killed by a puff adder and I know they are supposed to be terribly toxic. Surely in remote Africa if you get bit, you're done for. Yet I still found it very cool to be able to be close to one, to watch it lie there, frozen, possessing the ability to easily kill me yet more fearful of me than I of it.

I was surprised how fat it was and I asked my guide if it has eaten recently. He told me puff adders are naturally a wide, fat snake. Seeing it so clearly on the sand was a great chance to get a close up of the head, and to see the length without camouflage (about 2-3 feet). I may never see another one, so I'm lucky I got to visit this one. I knelt down and took some photos, still maintaining a respectful distance. The snake's eyes were cold like a shark's - there is no connection there that I feel I can make. I have come to respect snakes and regard them as having a valuable place in the ecosystem, but I never have a desire to touch them or get too close!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Baby Crocodiles in Botswana

My last trip to Africa was to Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, in January and February. As things here get stressful with school starting (I'm going to try for a second degree, in biology), Esmae not being well, and work getting really busy, I think about Africa because it is the most peaceful place I know. Whenever things get harried, I think about what's waiting on the other side of the world, when I can get there again. The gorillas will be there, at least for a few more years. Somewhere out there lion prides are lazing in the sun, or hunting. Zebras are making their funny braying noises, and ungulates of all kinds are grazing away. Dramas are playing out and life is going on as it always has - I'm just not there to see it right now, but I will be again, eventually.

I have several photos and experiences from the last trip I didn't blog about yet so I thought this would be a good time, since Africa is on my mind and I'm longing to go there again already.

On a cruise on the Chobe river I saw a mother crocodile and her babies. It took me forever to see the babies, they were so well camoflauged. Look at the top of the branch sticking out of the water and under it and you'll find the babies. There's a close up of one of the babies - hard to imagine how that little one can grow so big. You can see mom in the water, just her eye and the tip of her head showing. I never cease to be amazed at how well crocs can hide - even when you know they are there it can take forever to see them, not unlike leopards though not quite as bad. Although they are creepy in some sense, for some reason I also like them. They are relics of an ancient age, dinosaurs that made it, and there is nothing evil about them, they are just water predators that have been successful. Though they aren't as cool as land predators, I enjoy watching them when I can find them and I was excited to see babies in the wild for the first time. Mom kept guard.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Esmae Update: Equine Metabolic Syndrome

The bloodwork is finally in and Esmae has some issues that indicate Equine Metabolic Syndrome, a fairly new condition about which much is still being discussed. In brief:

Esmae's plasma cortisol and insulin levels were elevated. Also her serum iron was slightly high and her zinc was slightly low. The iron and zinc levels are not significant. Her cortisol and insulin levels are consistent with equine metabolic syndrome. This condition is similar to Cushing's disease but is different due to the cause of the condition. Cushing's disease also affects older animals. Equine metabolic syndrome is an insulin resistant condition. This increases blood glucose and cortisol levels. Current thinking and research indicate that the cause of this syndrome is chronic obesity. There is some suspicion of a genetic link as well, but this has not been proven. Having this problem makes them more prone to becoming obese in the future and increases the risk of laminitis or founder.

Her insulin is 70 and the high normal range is 25. This seemed REALLY high but the vet said he has seen horses with 800 levels. The cortisol should be 85 for high normal and is 93.7.

I was instructed to confine Esmae to a dry lot and give her 4 hours of turn out per day. In addition to this, she can have 1 flake of hay per day. Ideally, this should be about 5 lbs of hay. She also needs 1.5 lbs of Purina WellSolve W/C twice daily. Also, I'm to feed her 2 scoops of Metabolic Support twice daily. She will continue to get daily wormer as well. She will begin lunging daily, starting with 10 minutes daily, increasing by 5 minutes every 3-4 days until 25 minutes per day.

How overweight is she? I don't really know - everyone has said she is a "little heavy," no one said she was exceedingly overweight, and it fluctuates based on pasture and time of year and amount of riding. Since she is young (7) and otherwise in good shape, and this is an early and mild case, she can expect to recover and with careful dietary management she should be fine. I will get to learn a lot about monitoring her health to know how to track her weight, pulse and heart rate and hopefully get a lot more in tune with her. We will get to spend more time together. Neither of us like lunging much but I'll try and find some variety.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pepper Joins the Family

Pepper came as a foster after being on death row and given 24 hours to get into foster care or get put down. For some reason, black cats always get adopted last. Pepper was turned in by her owner, who had "too many animals." About a year old, she is elegant and thin, with very short hair and a very narrow face. Her voice is tiny. I suspect some Siamese in her.

In the month I have had her, I've not gotten one call or inquiry about adopting her. She, meanwhile, was busy worming her way into a permanent position here by ingratiating herself to the dogs, the cats, and of course, me. With four permanent cats already, you wouldn't think we could possibly have an unfilled cat niche, but little Pepper made it clear that we were in fact missing just a little something, just what she had to offer.

I'm not fond of the name Pepper and I was going to pick a better one, but I never found one that stuck and now both her and I are used to Pepper, or Pepperoni, based on her salami shape. I was a sucker and fell for her, increasingly realizing I would only want her to go to a REALLY great home, then finding it impossible to imagine a place she'd be happier than here. She loves it here. Her favorite spot is on top of a shed overlooking the chicken coop - she adores watching the chickens. She has an imaginary friend ("Indy") she plays with, sometimes spinning and lashing around like there is a laser pointer only she can see. She loves wet food. She asks to go out. She comes when called to come in. She loves being picked up and is really laid back. She likes to hang out near me. Lizzie, the queen cat, approves and that was the clincher.

I have truly come to love her - so as much as I do hate becoming a five cat woman (yes, a crazy cat lady I am sure) Pepper just had to stay. She belongs here. While I'm taking a break from fostering for a bit, I'm going out by adopting one of my fosters, something I avoided doing for over 100 fosters (and with some it was tough!). I'm not sorry. Although I wasn't planning on Pepper, she needed a place and she found one that clearly suits her.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

African Night Sounds

One of my favorite things about going to Africa is hearing
the night sounds. After my last trip, I found some of them
on the web. If you want to hear them check these out:

There are frogs that I think sound like bubbles being blown,
so I call them bubble frogs. Then there are frogs that I
think sound like glass balls tinkling against each other.
I hear these nearly every trip and didn't know their name
so I call them tinkley frogs.

This site has a wide array of African mammal sounds and this
one also has mammals. You can often hear lion and zebra at
night, or hyena. Once I heard leopards calling all night,
that was very cool.

Frogs can be hard to identify; this site has a whole array of
them and an index.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why Did My Horse Collapse?

I had some trouble with Esmae when I was ridingin the Eagle foothills about a week ago (not this past Sunday but the one before, Aug. 3). It was traumatic, and has taken this long to even be able to write about it, because it shook me up.

That morning I fed a little bit of alfalfa hay to Esmae and Buster as they were locked in the dry dock (red cinder) overnight and about to work out. They had probably less than a flake each. We took a trail we don't usually take and one I haven't used in awhile, and it had a few more hills than we usually do but nothing too steep or too major. If I recall right, when I last rode it, someone said it was about an 8 mile loop. We usually go about 6 and this was a little longer and a little more hill than we're used to but not by much.

It was early when we started and both horses seemed fine. I was going to turn back rather than do the whole loop but I ran into a rider who assured me the trail looped back to the main road in "several places." However, the first loop back was longer than I wanted it to be and by then it would have been longer to turn back. We walked and did not trot. When we got to the top of the last hill, all of a sudden Esmae started shaking all over. She was dripping sweat. The shaking scared the hell out of me. There was no way to get her to the trailer without walking out. I thought about getting off and walking her out but I thought I'd let her rest and see how she was. I thought maybe the muscles were shaking due to just too much of a workout and with rest and taking it easy we would be ok. I offered treats and water - she had no interest in either. I knew it was all downhill or flat road from that point forward and we were within 3 miles of the trailer. So after I left her rest 10 minutes or so and she stopped shaking and seemed ok, just tired, we walked on.

After a bit she seemed to perk up and took a bite of a weed here and there again. She also wanted to trot to catch up to Buster here and there - I only let her take a few steps and then pulled her into a walk each time. We went very slowly and I was worried but I thought we were out of the woods. Along the main road I ran into three riders, women, and they seemed like endurance people. We chatted a bit and the riders passed. Esmae kept wanting to trot a bit and Buster did too as they knew we were coming up to the trailer but I tried to keep them at a walk.

About 3/4 of a mile from the trailer, Esmae lowered her head while walking and then just collapsed, all 4 legs at once. I jumped off, yelled to my friend on Buster to get help and get the trailer - I knew there were the other riders up not far ahead. Esmae showed no sign of rolling or getting up. I whipped the saddle off her so she didn't roll on it and hurt herself. I offered her water and she didn't want it. I put a little of the warm water on her back and she didn't like that so she got up. Her back end swayed a little bit.

The other riders came back. Esmae laid her head down in the sand and gave a big sigh and I was deeply scared that it was all over and I was never going to know why and that somehow I'd just killed my horse. I was imagining maybe it was a metabolic thing with losing too many electrolytes or something. I was scared and didn't know if it was safe to trailer her, whether I should leave Buster, or what. The other riders didn't know what to do much either - they said it seemed serious and that they didn't know what was wrong but it could be tying up (I didn't think so but who knows). I trusted their judgment that it was ok to trailer her with Buster and go to Idaho Equine and I did that as fast as possible.

We checked at all the red lights to ensure she hadn't fallen - she stayed on her feet. When we got to the hospital, she had a completely normal neurological exam, heart beat, etc. And her bloodwork came back normal and showed that she did not tie up and was not really depleted on her metabolic panels. It was all NORMAL so they sent me home.

A friend of mine suggested it could be caused by a trace mineral deficiency. I had Idaho Equine come draw more blood Friday and hopefully I'll get results this Friday or early next week. This horse, an Arab of good breeding, has had great health care and is only 7 years old. There is no reason I can think of for this to be happening, but now I am afraid to ride her. I want to do NOTHING to harm her, ever. When she laid down at my feet, rolled her head and looked up at me, it was a completely helpless feeling. 1100 pounds you can't toss in the car and run for help. We had no cell coverage. I wanted to make the best decisions for her but I wasn't sure what to do. In retrospect, going over it all again and again, I think I made good decisions based on the data I had. But I want to get more data before I ever have to make hard calls like that again.

I don't know WHAT IS GOING ON. If you have any ideas or suggestions based on your experience, I would be grateful for them. I'll also post updates as the bloodwork comes back, and hopefully I can figure out what's up. I am deeply, deeply attached to this horse and very worried about her. But, she seems FINE now. She runs in the pasture, she eats, she plays, she talks to me like always with her patterns of whinneys that mean different things. So I hopw I can learn what's going on. If it is a mineral deficiency a supplment can address that. I just need to know.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another Tiny Rest in Peace

It's been a terrible summer for me as far as foster animals go. This little kitten was the second to pass away, from complications and possibly sepsis associated with coccidia. In a completely separate and unrelated incident, I lost a very young 16 day old kitten earlier this summer. It happens fast. In this case, I was concerned that this litter was not gaining weight. I had suspected a parasite and had fecal tests done and they were medicated with antibiotics for the coccidia. First, a course of Amoxycillin before we knew it was coccidia. They all got better, but only for a few days before loose stools returned. So then we did a course of Albon. Still, this litter wasn't better so I took them in to the Humane Society Clinic for observation and further treatment. They began a course of Septra, but for this one, it was apparently just not enough. I got the news today, and last held this kitten on Friday. It makes me very sad he never got more of a chance. He spent most of his life here and he was loved and happy, but it is a sad end and I am even sorrier the last few days were in a cage at the shelter.

I still have a litter of four at home, trying to fatten them up to 2lbs so they can get neutered or spayed. I have homes for all kittens in both litters lined up. It was a worse year than usual for adoptions. Some got great parents but some, well they are not ideal and I have to hope for the best. It's repulsive how many cats are being dumped off at the shelter lately, and dogs, in part due to the economy. I can't imagine losing my job or my house and then giving up my animals. I'd live on the street with them first, and probably feed them before I fed myself. Some people seem to view pets as less than a lifetime commitment, but pets aren't disposable. You get stuck with less than ideal ones sometimes, but like kids, you suck it up and be a parent anyway.

It's sad watching the animals try to get new homes or try to adapt to their worlds changing. This summer we also took in a foster dog about a year old, and three adult foster cats. There are still two adult cats left. One will have a hard time ever finding a home due to a slightly cloudy eye some people consider "damaged. The other, a little black girl, will probably worm her way into a permanent placement here as I don't have the heart to let her go to anything less than a great home, and so far not one phone call about her in a month plus. She was spared from death row due to lack of space and time at the shelter. So sad.

After all this, I definitely need a break from fostering for awhile. It's a great thing to do and I really believe it makes a huge difference. But in about five years of fostering I never lost any animals before, and with two this summer, that warrants some recuperation and processing time. I don't believe I failed to do anything that needed to be done, both got vet care and the vet assures me neither could have been saved, but it is still hard to watch tiny life go out. I have taken a long, hard turn at the fostering thing and I can only hope others will step in for awhile and someone new can step up for a bit. I may be back but after the existing fosters get placed it will definitely be time for a break.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bonorong: A "Sanctuary"?

Bonorong is a "wildlife sanctuary" near Hobart in Tasmania. It was the worst of the five on the island we visited, by far. There were too many kangaroos for too small an area, and the grass was all but non-existent with too much overgrazing. The barren dirt didn't offer much in the way of habitat for the kangaroos. But the most appalling thing was the condition of some of the roos. Their claws were exceedingly long and in need of trimming, both front and back (see photo for example). We did not see any of this at any of the other parks. Whether that's because the habitats are such that the claws can wear down naturally or because the staff actually trims the claws elsewhere, I don't know. But one thing is certain - it's not healthy to have claws that long and it makes the kangaroos unable to use their front paws the way they normally would. They did not appear comfortable, though they did not seem outwardly in pain either.

The enclosures for the other animals were not as bad, and I didn't see any others that didn't appear to be getting basic health care, but overall the park was run down and did not appear that well maintained. The food for the kangaroos was dry pellets and as they ate them from me, they did not exhibit the same spark of enthusiasm or joy I saw in all the kangaroos elsewhere. The overcrowding must affect them on many levels. There were well over forty kangaroos in a small space. In addition, construction on one of the habitats was going on and one of the kangaroos ended up separated and spooked by the heavy equipment, running laps back and forth in fear. The workmen ignored this and didn't stop until they were done. As soon as the equipment shut off she felt safe joining the others; they should have let her do so as soon as they noticed her instead of leaving her frantic for 15 minutes.

I simply left with the impression the best for the animals - including basic health care - is not a priority here so I would not recommend a visit to this particular park. However, I wrote to the management of the park with my concerns and they did respond. They said the grass situation was not over grazing and that the park had been for sale and was not well maintained for a period of time. They say they are re-seeding the grass - they did not say they were reducing kangaroo numbers. They acknowledge the problem of the claws on "some of the older kangaroos" and point out they need a vet to sedate the animals to maintain their claws. They say arrangements have been made to accomplish this nail care in the next few months, as well as other improvements to the park. So, I would be tempted to go again and see if the situation has improved, or interested in hearing from anyone else who visits here as to what they encounter.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Finding the Platypus

Platypus live in streams and pools in Tasmania, and I was really hoping we could find some. What a weird little animal - a monotreme, they lay eggs but nurse their young. they have duck bills and are covered in fur. The males have claws that can excrete poison if they need to defend their space or family. When I asked our guide if we could try to locate a platypus he said sure, but seemed surprised. "Not many people want to see one," he said. WHAT? How could you not want to see a platypus??

We looked in several places where there were pairs, watching the water for v-shaped wakes. We did find several pairs across Tasmania, but they are hard to photograph. They dive for a long time and come up in a different place, always watching to see where you are. By the time you get the shot framed they are underwater again. It took many, many tries to get photos and I never got any on land, or any better than these. But, at least you can tell it's a platypus.

We never had the time to do it, but when I go back sometime I'd like to locate a couple of platypus and spend an afternoon watching them - maybe get a glimpse of them on land. It's such a unique animal and one you can't see anywhere but Australia.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sydney's Taronga Zoo

Sydney Australia's Taronga Zoo wasn't a planned stop on our trip, but given any spare time in a city I will always try to sneak in a zoo visit. We had just a couple of hours but I still wanted to try and fit it in, and I am glad I did. Visiting zoos in other countries is interesting as they have a wider array of local animals than you can see in a U.S. zoo generally, and you can see many small or nocturnal animals you may not be able to view in the wild. I like wildlife sanctuaries for the same reason, though there you get the added benefit of hands on animal experiences more often than not.

The zoo was easy to get to with a dedicated ferry. The Safari Skyview that takes you up to the top of the zoo so you can walk down wasn't working, but they had a bus there to do the same thing. We got there on a rainy morning as the zoo opened, and as it is on a hill, planned the two hours we had so we walked downhill and focused on Australian animals.

Since we didn't see any dingos in the wild, it was nice to see two here at the zoo (one is pictured above). They had a great platypus exhibit and breeding program, and a southern hairy nosed wombat (rare!!!). My favorite part though was the nocturnal animal house. WOW did they have some super adorable, cuddly cute little marsupials. Bouncing marsupial mice and rats and bettongs and all sorts of things. They had some with impossibly big ears, or impossibly long noses, or some so small you could not believe they were real until you saw them move. I could have spent hours in there were it not for our other appointments and the ever-present and exceedingly annoying children who frequent these places and tap on the glass and yell at the animals.

The other photo here is a legless lizard - what a truly bizarre little creature. Not a snake but somehow much creepier than a legged lizard.

I was impressed with the variety of animals, the quality of habitats, and the overall layout of the zoo. It was nice, even in the rain, and if I'm in Sydney again I would like to go back and see the parts I couldn't fit in this time around. While every zoo has areas that could be improved (no doubt with additional funds they sometimes don't have) this was a pleasant zoo to visit. Recommended.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Diving With the Sharks - Almost

Sydney, Australia has an aquarium (Oceanworld Manley) where you can do an "Xtreme Dive" with about 12 or so nurse sharks and other miscellaneous sea life, like giant turtles, fish, and a couple of other sharks. I was really excited to go on the shark dive and booked it months in advance. I am too chicken to swim with real wild sharks, even in a cage, but I thought in an aquarium I would be okay. Actually, it isn't the sharks that are hard for me, it's the scuba diving. I hate to put my face in the water, and I hate diving. I tried it once in Maui and I was sick afterwards and too nervous the whole time to enjoy it. But, I thought these would be near ideal conditions - just a few feet down in a tank, with pre-fed sharks and instructors and all sorts of neat marine life.

There were four of us set to dive on the last dive of the day on a Saturday. Three women and my husband. It took a long time to gear up with the weights, wet suits, tanks, etc. Then we had to practice sign language for walk, kneel, stop, look, problem with mask, etc. And then practice breathing and so forth. The water was really, really cold. I had a very hard time with it and had to keep psyching myself up. The only way I could keep going was to look at the sharks and fish and get distracted. I would forget to breathe.

The sharks were actually relaxing, and I got within about a foot of some of the nurse sharks, and a giant turtle, and a school of fish swam by me. But, one of the other girls was really starting to have trouble, and I could tell I wouldn't make it through the whole dive without being sick. I was shaking from cold and I was getting nauseous. So I decided to bail on the dive and not do the entire thing - despite all the prep.

I watched my husband do the dive and that was cool - I got to be on the outside of the aquarium while he was in with the sharks. Here is a photo of him and a close up of one of the sharks. The sharks have cold, beady little eyes and as much as I like animals, I didn't feel any kind of bond with them. I did think it was cool to be near them, but they don't connect with you like mammals do.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tasmania's Cradle Mountain

Tasmania's Cradle Mountain is in the south west part of Tasmania and is quite popular as a tourist destination. We drove there from Arthur River in the north west corner of the island. On the way in, we passed miles and miles of forest that was burned in a wildfire last fall. Although it was depressing, it was also possible to see fresh green regenerative growth.

There are many hiking trails at Cradle Mountain, but due to the number of people who visit and concern for the environment, they have built boardwalks so that you are walking on an elevated platform. While I can understand how this is helpful for the environment and probably wise given the masses who flock there, it isn't a super great hiking experience. It just seems weird to walk on an elevated boardwalk and somehow it is disconnecting. We were there on a holiday weekend, and it was very busy, but we were lucky enough to pick a route no one else was on. The photo is looking back at Cradle Mountain, and you can see one of the boardwalks in the foreground.

There was a lot of wombat scat, and I encountered this wombat as he crossed the road.

While Cradle Mountain is beautiful, I much preferred the more remote areas with no one around. Cradle Mountain was the most crowded place we went in Tasmania, complete with screaming infants in the parking lot.