Our local coyote pack seems to have grown substantially since their pups were born in the spring. Yesterday afternoon, they yipped and serenaded from very nearby, sending my dogs into a tizzy. R did his best imitation of a coyote, howling with abandon.
Yesterday, I had a funny coyote interaction. I was sneaking across a road on trail known almost only by locals. I didn't want anyone in a car to see me so I could avoid advertising the trail. So, I waited until I didn't hear any cars and sprinted to cross the road. To my amusement, a coyote was employing exactly the same strategy from the other side of the road. He and I sprinted past each other. He barely gave me a second glance in his hurry to make into the hidden safety of the forest that I'd just left. I chuckled - I act more like a coyote than I might have guessed!
On our evening hike yesterday, we headed out early and both dogs were leashed to avoid coyote interactions. However, we had the pleasure of running into some former neighbors on the trails... and stood around talking for more than an hour. Consequently, the Labraduo and I finished our hike in rapidly darkening twilight.
This morning, the Duo and I headed out for a mountain bike ride early. They sprinted ahead enthusiastically in the cool morning air.
We started on a west-facing slope, following a thin dirt path through pines and aspens. Within this past week, that slope has not yet been sunny on my morning rides because the sun is arcing lower and lower in the sky. While on that trail, K did a recall, galloping wildly around a curve, on the trail.
Later, we emerged from the shade and found a lookout point for a rest and photo.
To the west, we saw the moon dipping toward the almost snow-free mountains. Their snowy cloaks will return soon!
After dropping the Duo off at home, I headed toward the hillside where my stolen wildlife cameras formerly stood. I was frustrated to see all sorts of animal signs, indicating that I would have captured great footage this week if I still had those cameras. In front of where one of my stolen cameras had been, a bear had deposited a scat. In front of the other former camera site, a mountain lion had scraped the ground with his hind paws, leaving a scent post announcing that this was his territory. In the photo below, the cat had faced toward the bottom of the frame and kicked the dirt toward the top of the frame.
After lamenting all the great wildlife action that I'd missed due to thievery, I managed to put it out of my head and enjoy my ride. However, during my ride, I kept stopping to search for hidden sites for my trail cameras. No doubt, that area attracts our most exciting animals.
I passed what I think was a crab apple tree still hanging onto its fruit - it was in a clearing that probably once harbored a mining cabin. I'm surprised that the animals haven't eaten the apples yet.
Then, as I rolled downhill, I spotted what I thought was a big boulder in the trail. In fact, it was the biggest puffball mushroom that I've ever seen, a testament to our moist summer. It was the size of a bowling ball.
Then, I spotted a sign that I didn't want to see yet - the first yellowing aspens. Summer is so fleeting at this elevation!
When I saw the aspens with a yellow tinge, I thought that I was near the end of my ride, laboring up a steep forest road toward home. However, ahead of me, I heard gunshots start blasting from the thick forest. They were regularly spaced, like the sound of a person target shooting. I stopped to contemplate the safest move. I know that 98% of shooters are diligent about safety, and, in all likelihood, I could pass on the forest road without worries. However, the other 2% scare me to death - shooting along roads, across roads, and without backdrops. I stood silently pondering my decision because riding past the shooter would be a 10 minute ride home and reversing my route would be an hour ride home. Finally, I reluctantly turned around. It just wasn't worth the risk to save 50 minutes. On the bright side, I got more of a workout than I'd bargained for!