During our evening hike yesterday, winter rushed back into the mountains. First, it hailed and then it snowed. The hail pellets covered the ground as the duo ran to me.
This morning, snow had transformed the forest from a warm and greening oasis to a freezing and white place. Because the snow was only an inch deep and I have studded mountain bike tires, K and I headed out for a ride on the trails. It's hard to believe that the aspens will have green leaves in a month!
Can you find K in the lattice of snowy branches?
We were the only ones on the trails, as far as I could tell. Even the wildlife seemed to be hunkered down in protected places. However, as we rolled along a perimeter trail, we spotted turkey tracks. They strutted along the trail for a bit and then veered toward a canyon. I thought that I'd come back later to track where the turkey had gone. Little did I know that those tracks would be invisible under a barrage of snow before too long.
K and I arrived home, and the snow intensified. Neither my bike nor my back seemed happy with the hard work of plowing through sticky snow so I ditched the bike and hiked for a bit with the Labraduo.
Almost immediately, we found fascinating tracks. A coyote had made a flying leap into a juniper bush, had taken a few steps backwards, and then had dispatched his prey.
At first, when I saw blood by a coyote track, I feared that the coyote had been shot, after our recent coyote killing. However, beyond a well trampled area with lots of blood, a clean set of tracks walked deliberately away from the kill site. No blood dripped around those tracks so I surmised that the coyote was not bleeding.
I decided, with the dogs on leash, to follow the coyote tracks for a while. We found a second site where the coyote had stood still, melting deep paw tracks, and then pounced into the snow. Based on the blood, he ate some more breakfast - perhaps a mouse or a vole.
The coyote seemed to wander almost aimlessly around the meadow and its fringes as he hunted. He paid special attention to small aspen groves, shrubs, and boulders, circling them before moving on.
Eventually, we veered off his tracks so that the dogs could frolic. Just after I finally let them run, we took a break from the snow tumbling out of the sky under a huge Ponderosa Pine tree. Its canopy almost completely protected us.
When we left the giant tree, we started heading toward home. The snow had covered us, and I was freezing.
R seemed to snarl at the streaking snow.
Then, he lunged toward my camera as I photographed his snarling face!
I was truly cold when I walked in the house. So, I built a crackling fire, and the three of us dried out and warmed up in front of it. It's a pretty big storm, with our accumulation already approaching a foot. April snow makes May flowers!