The usual suspects headed out into a bluebird day for a hike. Coyote tracks meandered across our path, like they do almost every day.
Unlike most days, K revved into high energy mode, surging along the scent path.
A simple recall brought her back to me, and I leashed her to be safe. Coyotes can kill dogs so I don't take chances around them.
As we crossed the meadow, I caught sight of a tan galloping form, relatively close, fleeing from us. He seemed to float across the snow and ducked under a barbed wire fence. By the time my camera was ready, he'd covered a long distance and stood statuesque in the snowy meadow.
He looked up at us, and with one more burst of speed, disappeared into the trees. His fluid and speedy movements showed the grace of a natural athlete. I honestly cannot believe that someone could shoot such a beautiful animal, just because their hearts are filled with hatred.
Our forest has been off-kilter since the coyote shooting. The predators have changed their routes and aren't passing my wildlife cameras. Nor are they leaving tracks on their usual patrol paths. Even the deer are foraging in unique places and don't appear in their usual haunts at the usual times. It's as if the violent death of one member of the web of life has altered many spokes of the web. Or, perhaps it's a seasonal shift that I haven't noticed in past years.
K and I hiked into a pine forest, heading toward an area that is replete with many boulder outcroppings, some bathed in sunlight and others drowned in deep snow. Thus, I'm guessing that it harbors lots of life, including bobcats, rabbits, lions, and hibernating bears.
We passed through a gully whose soil must contain ample water because it's filled with aspen.
Then, we swam through snow up to my thighs to a ridge that's defined by boulder after boulder. On the south-facing side of the ridge, K perused a scent so carefully that I went to check what it was. It was a pine needle scraping with bobcat scat. However, it didn't look like a regularly used scent post. I'm learning that I should investigate the scents that fascinate K - sometimes I find something hidden that interests me too. And, other times, I find something putrid! It's a gamble!
The sun is barely touching the steeper north-facing slopes now, after an entire winter of no sunlight on these steep walls.
We clambered to the top of one of these boulder jumbles to gaze at whatever view it gave us. Worth the climb, I think!
After exhausting myself (but not K) fruitlessly searching for any sign of life besides rabbit tracks, we finally turned back toward home, again managing to mire ourselves in deep snow. The snow simply builds and builds on north-facing slopes, never melting or compacting. At one moment when I stopped to build up my courage to try a few more steps, I spotted a unique view through a gnarled tree.
Just a few minutes later, K celebrated our wanderings with a joyous wriggle in some crusty snow. Yes, K, we're a lucky pair - we both like wandering the forest with no particular goal, except to get to know it better.
Seize the day!