We thought we'd deviate from our usual format and an experience we recently had. We were at our friend's Diane and Tony's house the other afternoon. Phil and Tony were playing pool and I was helping Diane make little "goodie bags" for her daughter's baby shower. We were relaxing after hiking Old Man Mountain that morning from the bottom of Fall River Road and were getting ready for a quick dinner… and then off the outdoor concert at Performance Park.
All of a sudden I heard a very quiet, "Come here quickly!" from the downstairs. Diane and I walked gingerly down the stairs and standing a foot away from the end of their patio was the most beautiful Red Fox we had ever seen. It was reddish brown with black behind its ears. It had a long pointed nose and distinctive brown eyes that kept looking at us with such a curious facial expression. We noticed how long her legs were and that they were black on the bottom half. She had a long bushy tail that was black near the end and then a little dab of white just set it off! We stared at her for a long time. It almost seemed like she was staring at us too... trying to figure out who everyone was. She'd stand there and then sit down, and then lie down and yawn as if to go to sleep in the bed of wildflowers. After a few minutes, Tony opened the screen door, looked around the opening and started to photograph this majestic looking fox. The fox didn't move. She just stood there and sat there and lay there as if posing for a picture.
Diane went up to call our neighbors, Deb and David. David is a former park ranger so we knew that he'd add some knowledge about the Red Fox. I ran back home to get Phil's camera while Tony continued to photograph the fox. Phil figured that by the time I came back with our camera equipment, the fox would be gone. So, he just observed and was happy that he was able to experience this moment. We were all enthralled. We'd never seen a fox behave this way….neither had David. By the time I got back, she had decided to move way and we thought that was the last of the Red Fox. Phil was convinced of that because now he had his camera, but no fox to photograph.
I walked behind the house to see if I could get a glimpse of her, and there she was. Phil pulled his camera out and put his telephoto lens on. She'd just look at us, walk around a bit, sit down and then lie down. She really looked like she was posing for the cameras. She even sat next to some pretty yellow wildflowers, as if she was in a studio and we were taking her portrait. We started talking to her and decided we'd name her, "Sundance." Diane went in to call our other neighbor, Gayl, who came out on her deck to get a glimpse. Both Gayl and Diane thought they had seen the same fox a week before.
All of a sudden, she looked up the mountain and bounded up the steep rocks behind Diane's house. We thought that was the last of the story of our friendly fox. We saw her running up the side of the mountain through the grasses. We saw her slowly emerge on top of a huge boulder looking down at us. We all started to call out, "Sundance, come here, Sundance!" She looked at us, thought for a few moments and then ran down from the rock… bounding toward us. We couldn't believe it! It was like Lassie coming home! She stopped to check out some chipmunks and then walked up around Deb and David's house. We went on their deck their deck to get a better look at her. There we saw her at the back of the house, with David singing to her. She just looked at him. It was priceless! We all went out the back door to see her as she started walking away up the mountain. In the back of the house was a huge boulder. We all said in unison, "Sundance, go up on the boulder so we can get one last photograph!" It was dusk by now. We waited a couple of minutes, thinking she was gone, and then there she was on the top of the huge rock looking down at us. She looked like she was posing on top of that giant boulder either for a last photograph or to say good-bye!
We all couldn't believe our good fortune! Sundance was absolutely beautiful! We keep looking up the mountain for her, but we haven't seen her since. We sure did get some beautiful photographs of this stunning Red Fox that we named Sundance! Maybe some day, we will see some her and her family. But, the photographs will always remind us of our great outdoor moment.
We do need to remind everyone that the red fox and all the other wildlife in Estes Park are wild animals and still need to be seen at a distance… and with extreme caution.