I started my day hiking with my trio of labs, including S, our 13 1/2 year old yellow lab. Usually, my husband hikes with S in the mornings and I hike with S in the evenings because S can't run or bike with us. I wrote previously about S's deafness and early signs of senility. The combination was making me nervous about losing him during off-leash hikes. We've started having S wear bear bells so that we notice immediately if he begins to wander off course. S usually insists on hiking directly behind us so we don't see him right away if he wanders. The bear bells have worked wonderfully.
We've also started giving S an anti-senility drug, Anipryl. Starting a couple of months ago, he was getting confused at trail intersections and wandering the wrong way. He also became confused, and paced nervously, if another of our dogs was sleeping on his favorite bed. Another senility sign was that S had accidents indoors when he forgot to wait until he was outside. All of these signs of confusion are becoming less frequent. It's been about 3 weeks since we started the drug, and we should see another week or two of improvement before things level off.
While we were hiking, I saw the oddest scat. Several different bills, a one dollar bill and others, were rolled together and encased in bobcat scat. The bills definitely came out of the cat with the scat - it wasn't a case of a bobcat pooping on some money that was lying there. I started wondering how a bobcat came to eat money. My best guess was that the money was part of something else that a bobcat would normally eat - because I can't imagine a bobcat eating bills by themselves. If it were lion scat, I might've worried that he killed and eaten a human along with the contents of the pants pockets - but bobcats don't kill humans. I did think of a gruesome scenario since a bobcat will feed on any dead meat it finds but I'll spare you the details.
We hiked through a forest of aspens and pine trees and were overwhelmed by a cocauphony of bird calls. A huge flock of mountain chickadees, pygmy nuthatches, white-breasted nuthatches, and pine siskins foraged in the trees. I've never before seen pine siskins flocking with with conifer-loving chickadees and nuthatches. I've read, however, that pine siskins like to eat the tender buds of deciduous trees. Perhaps they were eating the red buds on the aspen trees. Then, a short time later, a large flock of robins harshly squacked warning calls as we passed them. The early birds were active today.
After dropping the dogs off, I did a ride that included almost every kind of terrain. I started out by pedaling through a pine forest and saw a very fresh deer bone. It's from the end of the forelimb, a metacarpal bone with two carpal (toe) bones (the carpal bones attach to the hoof in an intact animal). As I traversed a slope, I caught a glimpse of the awesome Divide with blue sky around it.
A little later, I met a person who is involved in the ongoing Mountain Lion study. I told him about my sighting yesterday, and he wasn't at all surprised or concerned. He said that they've been seeing a lot of lion activity in the general area where I was.
After chatting with him for too long (mountain lion stories intrigue me), I rode a trail that passes through alien terrain that first feels like a high desert, then follows a mountain creek, and then finally returns to a Montane pine forest. Down in the canyon, water cascaded around ice-encased boulders in the creek.
After climbing out of the canyon and up from the creek, I was discouraged to find that the wind had picked up and shifted so it was hitting me directly in the face. I knew that I had a tough ride home ahead of me. I put my head down and spun patiently, feeling the strength of the endurance that I've been building this winter. I didn't feel like I was down to my last iota of energy toward the end of the ride. As I approached home, the sky surrounding the Divide was gray and angry in contrast to the deep blue sky when I left home.
As I took my last few pedal strokes, I spotted a pair of coyotes hunting in the meadow near our house. I've seen them almost daily over recent weeks. I think that they're a breeding pair and that our meadow will again be home to a family of coyotes in the summer. It'll be a challenge to keep our dogs away from them - but I don't mind - I love living among the wildlife.