I've been having a hard time keeping up with life recently. My rehabilitation and exercise program seems to dominate my days, leaving a dwindling energy supply for posting some days. So, today will be a mostly photo blog, about my peaceful hike with K this morning.
We stayed off the trails, walking cross-country among the boulders and trees. As we hit the top of a ridge, I could hear our local dog pack and their human on the trail below us. K's response was to climb the highest boulder near us and sit regally overlooking her kingdom. I'm sure that she could see them from up there.
Then, without trying, we stumbled on bobcat tracks.
They led to the entrance of a deep cavern with low ceilings. The tracks showed that the bobcat had plunged into the subterranean hideaway at a slow walk and then departed in a similarly deliberate way. It looked like a perfect den for an animal to raise young. I wonder who has used it in the past.
The bobcat followed a narrow, almost knife-like ridge, to the west. I stopped to take a photo, not knowing that the views were about to get even better.
We continued following the tracks, and found that the cat had stood, leaving myriad paw prints, on the most prominant look-out point that I've ever found in our forest. All the trampling on the point was done by the cat, not by us. It was a glorious spot that I plan to visit again.
K, always cautious, surprised me by walking up to the same spot with meticulous care. Her first move was to look at the cliff below her.
Then, she surveyed her kingdom again.
The views were glorious.
As we descended the hillside below K's and the bobcat's look-out, we stumbled on a big pile of relatively fresh mountain lion scat.
Nearby, a trampled area caught my eye. It looked like a large animal had milled around this spot for quite a while within the past week. I suspect that we'd found a recent "day-bed" of a mountain lion, on an isolated south-facing slope.
At that moment, I measured the distance to the bear den. Although we stood on the opposite side of an imposing ridge that made the den feel like it was miles away, the shortest distance to the den was less than a quarter mile. I, for the thousandth time, pondered whether a cougar would ever attack and eat a hibernating bear. I wonder if the cougar has even checked out the den. My wildlife camera footage of the activity at the den's entrance will tell us... and I plan to go swap memory cards in the camera sometime soon.
After all these thoughts, I had to remind K that the forest definitely wasn't *her* kingdom!
I cannot imagine substituting a walk on a treadmill for my hikes with K like my doctor suggested. The forest web of life never ceases to intrigue me. And, the tranquility of the forest replenishes my strength and spirit almost every day.