A new knife-like pain started in my back yesterday afternoon and continued stabbing me this morning. The pain made me feel lethargic but K's enthusiasm pulled me out the door. And, what a day it was! K led me up a snowy trail through an aspen grove, and then melted my heart with her eyes.
As I looked into K's eyes, I heard some creaking from above us. I looked up and the gusty wind had almost blown down a tree that was leaning in our direction. We hurried along the trail and came upon a funny sight - the bone that we'd examined so closely last week now adorned a tree. My husband put it in the tree because R had been gnawing on it daily during their morning runs.
After K had jump-started my day, I decided to 'explore' to find a new route up to a ridge. I wandered around in the pine forest trying to keep my bearings. I was born with no sense of direction. If I can see landmarks, I can figure out where I am but when I'm in the midst of tall trees, forget it. Sometimes when I have a GPS, I test myself and try to point toward home. I'm often 180 degrees wrong.
Today, I ended up on trails that are new to me - which is amazing because I hadn't wandered far from home. At one point, the trail steeply dropped down into a gulch over loose rocky terrain. I usually decide whether to ride or walk a tricky trail partly based on whether anyone knows where I am (so I can be found if I crash). Today, I thought to myself, "No one knows where I am. Even I don't know where I am.". For some reason, that thought made me giggle and I decided to walk the tricky descent.
I eventually found myself, and the Fatback amazed me as it rolled up a steep, slippery, snowy, rocky, and rooty climb. I emerged above the trees with only the deep blue sky overhead not too far from my planned destination. I guess I wasn't as lost as I thought that I was.
I saw a couple of track patterns that puzzled me. In both cases, the recent blowing snow had obscured the details of each paw print so we have only the gait patterns as clues.
In the first one (left photo), the paws left indents a little smaller than bobcat paws but the gait pattern isn't typical for a bobcat. The strides were a little less than a foot apart. My best guess so far is that a pine marten left these tracks but I've never seen a marten at our elevation - the closest one that I've seen was about 1000' higher than here.
In the second track (right), the paws looked like they were around coyote size but I couldn't see any details. The strides were about a foot apart. I've never seen this gait pattern around here before. Does anyone have any idea what animal might have made it?