My legs felt snappy and energetic for mountain biking today, a marked contrast to yesterday. K and I rode upward toward the beautiful blue sky and reached our favorite high point. The sky was so clear that we could see Mt. Evans, a peak that towers higher than 14,000' many miles away.
I found some super-clear tracks from an animal that we've been tracking for weeks. There's no doubt - it's an American Marten. The left photo shows a hind paw. Note that there are long claw marks, 5 toe marks, and an 'extra' heel pad. Then, in the right photo, there's a typical gait pattern for a marten.
I find it amazing that I've just discovered a new animal in our forest that I thought that I knew so well. Now that I've noticed them, I'm seeing their tracks regularly in our pine forests. These small carnivores (weighing up to 3 lbs) have large home ranges of 5-15 square miles. So, it's not surprising that I followed a set of tracks for almost a mile today. The marten stuck to my packed down mountain bike track closely, only wandering from it to investigate bases of trees or shrubs. They eat red squirrels, rabbits, voles, and birds. I've seen them twice before, once about 1000' higher than my home and once in Crested Butte.
We ended the day with my nephews who made our dogs their very own pizzas, after a hike up to Hug Hill near sunset. Dog pizza recipe: make and roll out pizza dough, put a layer of homemade dog food over dough, sprinkle liberally with mozzarella, top with a dog biscuit, and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Have very cute nephews serve them to the dogs. The pizzas aren't beautiful but the dogs loved them!