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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Liquid gold - a lion's stroll

Today, I checked one of my remote wildlife cameras and found that I'd hit paydirt. A mountain lion stiffly strolled past it yesterday at 8 PM. He's a hulking big cat who dwarfs our dogs in size. I suspect that he's the same lion who my camera monitored as he ate a mule deer in January. Because there was only one lion, I know that this animal wasn't part of the lion family who killed a mule deer nearby a couple of weeks ago.

The most puzzling thing is how stiffly he seemed to walk. Perhaps he's injured or elderly. In all likelihood, he'd just awakened from a long day's sleep and was heading out to hunt when the camera recorded his stroll. I wonder if he was stiff from sleeping?

The spot where this camera sits is on a corridor that many people around here refuse to visit due to the lion presence. I've had a camera on the corridor since March, and this lion is the first who I've recorded.

After seeing the lion's image on my camera, it was hard to go out for a ride rather than coming straight home to closely examine the video. However, my back muscles desperately needed a ride. I seem to have had a string of bad Tuesdays in terms of my back - I don't know why. Thank goodness - the ride did its job of loosening the knots.

The air buzzed with storm energy and the plants drooped under last night's rain droplets as K and I rolled out for our ride.
The stormy ambiance was enhanced by clouds enshrouding the mountain peaks. K looked worried but, then again, K worries a lot.
Due to the dark skies, the birds who usually serenade us at dusk and dawn sang throughout our ride. We passed from one hermit thrush territory to the next, with their mournful warbling songs rising and then fading as we passed.

K loved the cool air and ran like a puppy through the cool wet grass sprouting under the aspen groves.
Toward the end of our ride, we glimpsed the mountains, albeit only briefly before more clouds surrounded them.
After I dropped off K at home, I started by heading to lower elevation and found springtime had zoomed forward in that lower world. Boulder Raspberries, not yet blooming at home, stood out in their favorite rocky habitat.
I saw a group of deer acting oddly. I was in an area where mule deer are hunted yearly so they usually flee when they see people. This buck first stared at me, showing off his velvet antlers...
... and then resumed grazing as if paying attention to me wasn't worth his energy. Maybe these are migrants from a more urban setting where they're not hunted? Or perhaps I don't compare to their year around predator, the mighty mountain lion.
I headed for another likely wildlife corridor, like the one where I've been getting mountain lion and bear footage, I noticed a sapling that a bear had recently used as back-scratching post to leave his scent all over it. I believe that the sapling gets broken when a bear uses his paw to bend the treetop downward for better back scratching like shown in my earlier video. I know that this one was broken recently because fresh spring growth appeared even above the break.
And, I knew that a bear broke it because of the fur embedded in the sap where the bear had rubbed so hard that he broke a branch off the tree.
It's so fun to be learning to read the forest so that I know which animals passed through before me. I had my eye out for bear signs near this tree because it stands next to a lush growth of myriad berry bushes. Indeed, some berry plants bloomed, like this Oregon Grape plant.
When I'm in the forest pedaling my bike, I become so attuned to my surroundings that the clutter that normally fogs my brain vanishes. On good days, I arrive home having forgotten all the silly details of life, and the effect lasts for a long time. I love it!


  1. Khyra and I vote he slept on it wrong ;-)

    Thanks for sharing his stroll and giving us a reference of what a nice big kitty he is!

    Once again, great shots of everything!

  2. That is one huge cat! I think my jaw actually dropped watching that. Something about his gait seems very familiar to me, from when I had domestic cats, but I can't quite put my finger on what it reminds me of.

    Maybe your Tuesday back pain is related to a change in your routine over the weekend? I know for me it takes a day for those aches and pains to show up. It's just a guess. I hope you break the string, though!

  3. Great Mountain Lion photos and flower pictures too.


    Jo and Stella

  4. I just love K's expressive face! I show most of your videos to some of my grandchildren, they loved the bear scratching video!


  5. The lion does look lame to me too, seems older, maybe arthritis.....sure is a big animal! How much do you think it weighs?

  6. kks,

    AS for his weight, I really can't guess. He looks at least twice R's size but his weight is probably three or four times R's (150 lbs?).

    I agree - I think that something's hurting in his right hind limb. I hope it's nothing too serious. I hate seeing such a majestic animal shuffling like he was doing in the video.

  7. That sullen sky is quite beautiful as is K with her quizzical look. Maybe the lion was so full it could barely walk! Gosh - it sure looks big. I admired the orchids again.

  8. The photos of K among the trees are an absolute treasure.Hope the pain eases up.

  9. All your videos are so well done! I really liked how you did the size comparison.

    I've noticed elk and deer sometimes don't appear as fearful of humans in cars, but on foot, it's as if they have flourescent orange on the brain. I've noticed recently the deer don't seem to be as intimidated by me if I'm on my bike.

    I spotted an elk in velvet on the greenway on my way to work a couple of weeks ago, but I couldn't stop because I'd just spent 20 minutes shooting the sunrise, and I didn't want to be late for work. So I'm really glad you got the velvet antlers. That sort of makes up for my miss.

    Being able to ride a bike through the wilderness is such a joy!

  10. I just found your blog via JackDaddy's. I absolutely loved reading about your adventures and those of the Labraduo. I am a dog who's father was a handsome stranger from a good neighborhood (or so I've been told). My human mum has been trying to train me as a service dog for her, but I want no part of it!!!

    I will keep visiting your site.
    Cody from AZ

  11. You transport me through your enthusiasm to a land of chills and excitement. WOW, what a vid! Can't possibly know why the stiffness (just know that I am definitely stiffer!) - He's amazing, but so is the broken pine you noticed with bear hair, and seeing the elk with his young antlers. All so special. I particularly love your final comments - it appears that cycling through this amazing land rejuvenates your body as well as your spirit! Thanks for sharing all this beauty with us in gorgeous photos and story!
    Hugs xoxoxo
    SAmmie and Avalon

  12. Your forest is teeming with life. So cool to see that big cat, and he certainly is big!

    I'm glad your clutter gets swamped by your forest. I think that's one of the great reasons to get outside/why we NEED wild places. Such a good reminder.

  13. Thanks for another great day in the forest.

  14. The mountain lion video took my breath away...I walk the same way when I get up!!! ;)
    Stay safe, hugs and belly rubs to R and D,


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