My guess is that a mountain lion was moving through our trail system at about the same time... but we didn't know that yet.
This morning, K and I hurried out into a sunny world with clouds racing toward us.
I'd accidentally dropped a bandanna during yesterday's hike so I wanted to find our tracks from yesterday and pick it up. I found our tracks, and overlaid on them, I found a lion's tracks. In the photo below, my old boot track is in the bottom, melted down to brown pine needles. The lion's track is above it. Obviously, the two tracks were made many hours apart. The lion's track was probably made last night.
K was as fascinated with the lion tracks as I was. We started following them, and K snorted in the scent of each paw print. When we hit areas bare of snow, K led the way, sniffing one invisible track at a time, showing me where the lion had gone.
As we followed the lion's tracks, I realized that if he continued on our path, he was going to pass directly in front of one of my wildlife cameras. My excitement rose to the sky! But, to my dismay, he veered away from the camera and over a jumble of boulders at the last instant. He was hidden from the camera's view... showing me just how much luck is involved in getting a photo of one of these ghosts of our forest.
Below, I photographed his tracks as he went through the boulders, evading my camera.
After clearing the boulders, the lion crossed my mountain bike tracks from yesterday. He must be wondering why "KB scent" is all over the forest!
We continued following, through a dense north-facing forest. K and I kept getting her leash tangled as we tracked the cat.
However, yet again, the cat veered as he approached the camera. He missed it by yards. Yes, I cussed when I saw that. I would have loved a photo of him.
Later in the day, on my mountain bike ride, I crossed his tracks yet again. I saw that the lion had headed toward yet another wildlife camera site later in his journey. Perhaps I'll find a photo of him tomorrow (but my hopes are not high - this huge feline seemed camera shy today).
I found my last lion track of the day in a spot with this spectacular view! I thought it made a perfect ending spot and turned toward home. I absolutely love tracking animals - what a day!
When I arrived home, I discovered that I did have photos from last night of our bobcat who came into our clearing at 3 AM. Thanks Mr. Bobcat!