Yesterday evening, we were out as sunset turned to twilight. The full moon led the way as we tromped the trails in our snowshoes from our neighbor's house to ours. The ambiance was sublime. The full moon lit the snowy world but a spooky element pervaded it. As moonlit darkness engulfed the forest, I felt the web of life that we humans rarely glimpse awakening. The predators move out from their daybeds and start hunting for their next meals. At this time of year, we can see some evidence of their activity in snowy tracks but I'd love to be able to see more.This morning, a new day dawned and the night-loving animals went to bed as I piloted my mountain bike out on the dirt roads early. Fog blurred the world below us. Its ghostly tendrils threatened to sneak through the canyons and up the gulches to our mountain elevation.To the west, the mountains tried to glow through their stormy shroud.
Indeed, just 20 minutes later, the clouds had thinned, and I saw my favorite terrain.
After briefly riding along a plateau, I plunged down a dirt road paralleling a gulch and creek. All along the creek, tracks like the ones shown below told stories of thirsty animals postholing down to the running water for a drink. In this case, a smallish elk first went down to the creek, leaving the tracks with longer strides on the right. Then, she climbed through piles of snow up the steep embankment, leaving her hard-earned tracks with shorter strides on the left. In her uphill tracks, you can see that she slid back down toward the creek by 6 inches or so with each step. It's hard work being a wild animal. There's no convenient faucet for getting drinking water.
After my ride, I picked up the dogs and took them for a snowshoe hike in the forest. It's a tough time of year here because the snow is melting too fast for cross country ski touring but, in some parts of the forest, the snow is still too deep and unpacked for snowbiking. So, I'm forced to snowshoe, which my spine hates, rebelling loudly by sending phantom pains shooting down into my legs. However, the pups needed romping time! Their antics distracted me from the discomfort.
Here comes R with K in rapid pursuit!
A split second later, K blew by me!
The dog duo seemed obsessed with tall rocky formations that scare me. I plan to put my new infrared wildlife camera near this boulder-strewn kingdom because I've seen so many cat tracks here. No doubt, the felines love hunting, lounging, and climbing gracefully in this rocky outcropping. Consequently, my heart accelerated when the pups started scrambling upward as if they were pursuing an animal. But, a quick recall brought them back to my side.
At the end of our hike through the snow, we visited a lookout to check out our mountains and stand quietly for an instant. Nothing brings me peace like a quiet spot in the forest with a view.
I love imagining how long those peaks have towered over our forest and how many people have gazed at them like I did today. Then, my mind visualizes how many animals have meandered past this spot over the Earth's history. This pondering makes me feel like a speck in the history of our world. I'll be gone in the blink of an eye but those craggy and snowy mountains will keep standing tall.