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Monday, December 13, 2010

Cats, cats, cats

Yesterday evening, we took a peaceful hike under a brilliant sky with the moon glowing through the purple hues.
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.
By the time we reached the high plateau where I love to take photos and explore, the sun had faded behind wispy clouds.
And then, within a minute, it was hidden behind clouds and remained blocked throughout our hike.
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.
As he wound through the forest, his trajectory was directly toward another of my wildlife camera traps. I've placed them based on my best guess of the lions' favorite route through our forest. Obviously, I've got the general route pegged.

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!

25 comments:

  1. Beautiful photos! We'd love to have that scenery for our daily walks :)

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  2. So fascinating to see your own tracks intermingling with one of the giants of the forests.

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  3. Khyra wants to know if she 'khan khome help khonvince the khytty to swing my the khamera' ? ? ?

    The opening picture is just breathtaking!

    Thanks again!

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  4. It's amazing how animals can disappear and appear at the same time, huh? Love the peektures, as always!

    Mr. Bobcat is your bestfriend, and ours!

    Woofs,
    Pepsi

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  5. Dazzling pictures today! The first photo and then later, heavy clouds and mountain toward the bottom were really spectacular!

    Sorry you missed your Big Cats but Bob takes a good picture anyway.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo and Stella

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  6. How exciting! I hope your feline friend finds your wildlife camera tonight:)
    Beautiful pictures!

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  7. I am amazed at how big the lion's paw prints are - wider than your bike tracks! Hope you get some pictures of him soon!

    Your pal, Pip

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  8. That is one big cat! I think I'm almost as disappointed as you are that you didn't catch a picture of him. Then again, maybe he just wants to make you work for it a little! It will be pretty exciting when you do get a shot, that's for sure!

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  9. Wow! And, very suspencful!...as to who might interact.. And, as we read and see your photos, we think about the size of the mtn. lion and then the size of the bobcat.... And just wonder how all interact with in the area. As, it seems that the mtn. lions would track a larger area, than the bobcats!?!?! We have been seeing very "urban" cayotes, one a fluffy grey and one a scruffy brown, in our small track during the day...and it is quite fascinating.

    Great post!
    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

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  11. Great shots! Its really cool seeing such close encounters with wildlife, we dont have much of that sort of thing here - no bears or bobcats or lions - just sandflies and bugs and rats/ferrets/rabbits etc. Not much fun!

    Good also to see K up having many adventures again!

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  12. you see wonderful tracks, animals and your photos are wonderfully gorgeous!

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  13. as usual, this totally creeps me out. but in a sick fascinating addictive way. (WHY do i read this? to give me nightmares? geesh...)

    anyway, i'm sure i wouldn't mind doing this if i weren't alone... how you do it with just a dog... yikes!

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  14. I love reading this its so exciting!
    I think its fascinating that they follow your tracks too

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  15. Stunning last picture of the clouds building up over the mountains. Did you ever find the banana or did something eat it ?

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  16. Hi Y'all!

    Love the views! and the bobcat. We have bobcats here and a panther that screams like a woman in distress! But to my knowledge, no lions. We see the bobcat on rare occasions. The turkey and deer are common sights. The bears we see once in awhile.

    Y'all come back now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

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  17. Wonderful post! I felt as if I was accompanying you on a scavenger hunt of the best kind! Love that shot of K sniffing the paw track!

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  18. Spectacular photos as usual. Loved the bike track & lion track together, the bob cat too. Thanks for taking us with you on your hike. We feel like we are there with you exploring.
    Ernie,Sasha,Chica

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  19. That sure was an exciting hunt! What would you do if you found it?

    And if you want to, you can come to my house and track our kittehs. But I have to warn you...they're kinda easy to find.

    Wiggles & Wags,
    Mayzie

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  20. I love all the sky shots, KB! It was so warm here today - my xskis started sticking. I think it got to about 50 degrees. But, I more snow is on the way. That lion seems to know just when to evade - pretty smart!

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  21. Ahhh gorgeous pictures! I love the rockies, I live in the mountains too. :) Makes me wanna go out camping again. But it's a bit too cold now!

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  22. Angus: It actually was a "bandanna" - so no one ate it :) In fact, it appeared that the lion picked up our tracks at the spot where the bandanna lay on the snow. I retrieved it before heading on my way.

    I'm not sure if anyone in our forest, except the bears, would eat a banana. But, the bears are asleep!

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  23. OMD! Regardless of getting a big kitty pic, the others are so amazing, especially that first - wow! And the bobcat photos are amazing as well as the lion tracks - truly scary and incredible... you will get him/her!
    xoxo
    Sammie and Avalon

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  24. At least the bobcat cooperated with your cameras. Hopefully the lion will do the same soon.

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  25. Thank you for taking us on your tracking eppisode with you.
    We felt like we were right with you, every step of the way.
    Even thought all the photos are awsome,, I love the last photo.,, and could sit there and look at the splendor all day.
    love
    tweedles

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