Wandering usually implies an aimlessness, lostness, or lack of goal. However, one of my 'goals' for my surgery recovery time is to wander our woods, finding animals paths and dens that I'd never run across on a bike. That made a gift from SMRP all the more apt. It says "Not all that wander are lost" (JRR Tolkien). I love it!
Today, K and I followed the well-trodden path of an elk herd down a snowy slope. Their route was too obvious to lose, especially when multiple herd members decided to relieve themselves all in the same area.
We followed the vagaries of their route choice, until the footing became too tricky. Then, we dropped down to a packed path.
Near the elk super-highway, I spotted tracks that looked like a mountain lion had also followed the herd. The stride length and straddle fit the bill for a lion. He dragged his paws slightly in the snow but I couldn't find a clear track. So, it was probably a lion but I wasn't certain. I wanted to backtrack him, to see his exact path, but the footing looked too treacherous for a person who's supposed to be 'taking it easy' while recovering from spinal surgery. So, I didn't.
When I arrived home, I felt a little beleaguered, wishing that I could follow my whims in the forest. So, I looked back at photos from my first big hikes after my spinal fusion surgery four years ago. They looked pretty spectacular. It's worth taking it easy so that I have these hikes in my future! I also love that my S is in the photo below.
This evening, the pack headed out for a hike, enjoying complete solitude on the trails. R zipped around like his usual high-voltage self. Here, I called him and he sprinted at warp speed straight at me.
At the last instant, he dug in all four heels and stopped, sending snow crystals flying into the air.
The skies emanated blues, purples, whites, and pinks.
To the west, they clouds looked threatening and whipped a cold wind in our faces. Our winter friend, the wind, is making a return.
As we finished our hike, R stood like a statue in the midst of the skeleton grove of aspens. Dusk was peacefully falling on our forest, and it was time to hike the last few yards toward home. Recently, our wildlife cameras have been occupied away from our house, monitoring lion carcasses, among other things. For last night, I pointed our infrared camera at the base of our birdfeeder to find out if the coyotes were still visiting on a nightly basis. For the first time, I set it to take 1 minute video clips whenever an animal came within its view. A trio of coyotes chowed down on fallen birdseed. Then, something alarmed all of them - either an intrapack altercation or something outside the camera view.
Now, I've moved the camera back to the bobcat and rabbit boulder, where scat markings and scrapings indicate a recent flurry of bobcat activity. It'll be interesting to get video of the bobcats.