We're finally relaxing in my area with the knowledge that the firefighters are getting the big fire under control. The neighborhood lookout points no longer harbor groups of people fire-watching, as the remaining flames are out of our sight.
Yesterday evening, the Duo and I did another hike up to the highest summit around here to survey the scene. We saw a haze of smoke but no obvious sources. That's a huge improvement.
The setting sun highlighted the reddish chocolate in K's fur. You can also see the "golden" dry grass behind her. This fire season is scary. Several new fires broke out again yesterday but were quickly extinguished. I wish that people would refrain from having campfires when the world is bone-dry.
We eschewed human trails on the way home from our lookout point, searching in a section of seldom-visited forest for animal trails. The Duo pointed out, with their wildly intense sniffing, a giant mountain lion scat. Each segment was about 1.5" in diameter and full of fur. I guessed that the lion had deposited it more than a month ago.
Then, next to it, I noticed a much fresher bobcat scat. Now, that's an audacious bobcat! He weighs about a tenth of a lion but dared to try to mark over top of the lion's scent mark. That act shows why I admire bobcats so very much. I'd like to think that I have the spirit of a bobcat!
Speaking of bobcats, my new camera had another bobcat visit! Now, two ostentatious bobcat scrapes and scats sit directly in front of my camera. In the photo below, the new scent mark is closest to my foot while the one from a few mornings ago is further to the left. In the newer ones, the scrape marks left by the cat's hind paws are most obvious near the top of the photo where he started to kick backward.
Indeed, my trail camera captured his image just after he left his calling card.
A couple of days ago, I asserted that there had been no bobcat scent post at this site before I set up my camera. Although I usually try to spend as little time as possible at a camera site to minimize my lingering scent, I investigated the area today. I discovered a very old scent post just a few yards away. It looked at least a year old. So, my best guess is that I called the bobcats' attention back to a site where they used to mark. When my new scent showed up there, they started marking the site again.
I think that the most recent visitor was a different cat from our previous visitor based on different spot patterns on their front legs, different tail carriage when not marking, and slightly more muscle definition in the first cat. Here's the first visitor for comparison.
The scientific literature says that bobcat marking activity is most intense near where two animals' territories meet. I suspect that I've lucked out and found a bobcat territory line.
This morning, K and I headed out for a mountain bike ride pretty late when the sun had already warmed the air. I'm bone-tired from the stress of the past few days and couldn't get moving this morning. K still has to wear a muzzle, as mushrooms litter the forest floor. Some of you asked how long the mushroom problem will last. I don't know the answer because we have more mushrooms poking out of the soil this year than anytime I can remember. My guess is that the K will be stuck in a muzzle until the first snow, which could happen anytime now.
Poor K - she hates the muzzle. Notice how she holds her head down when she wears it. We met some strangers on the trail today and they acted like she had contagious plague even after I explained why K wore the muzzle. K loves making new friends so she acted utterly pathetic after being rejected so completely.
I took the muzzle off to lift her spirits, gave her some hugs and treats, and then sat with her for a while. Before we resumed our ride, K stood tall in front of our mountains. At least the muzzle effect wears off quickly.
During our ride, I noticed that the autumn colors are deepening and taking over the forest. Even some wildflowers, in this case sulfur flowers, are turning auburn before going dormant.
And, a few aspen trees shined in their golden glory. It's selfish, I know, but I keep thanking mother nature for sparing my forest. Without it, I wouldn't want to live here. I feel like the luckiest woman on the planet.
I also feel heartbroken for the people who live on the other side of the canyon that protected us from the fire. They had a huge fire 20 years ago, and one of the people who I met has now lost two houses to wildfires. However, as we gazed at her hillside together, she didn't bemoan losing her possessions - she shed tears for the loss of the natural beauty around her homesite. I understood exactly what she meant.