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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Glorious winter day

This morning, K and ventured out into a serene and quiet world. The jet engine roar of the wind had vanished. A thin layer of snow held on in shaded places, giving hints of the myriad animals who had wandered, ghost-like, through our forest overnight. One of our wildlife cameras captured an image of a coyote with a plush coat foraging under our birdfeeders.
K meticulously investigated the scents on plants, shrubs, trees, and rocks next to the trail and appeared to decide that something scary had passed through our forest. As I tried to photograph her, she rarely looked at me. Instead, she scanned the vast world behind her.
I thought to myself that it's rare that our biggest predator comes close to our house so she must be worried about coyotes. Then, I flashed back to about 7 years ago when I found mountain lion tracks within 20' of our house. Back then, I knew almost nothing about lions or tracks but I knew enough to throw down my glove for scale in the photo of the sprawling paw imprints.
It scared us because we had two precious canines, neither of whom was fast or ferocious. Astro, K's big brother, was almost 16 years old. He loved his meandering strolls but moved slowly and stiffly. K was just a few months old and moved like a goofy puppy!
We called our Division of Wildlife to get advice about protection against mountain lions. Ever since then, we each carry a huge can of pepper spray when we're outside. We've found lion tracks so close to our house only one more time since then, and our wildlife cameras next to the house have never captured the image of a lion since we installed them about 18 months ago.

This morning, I eventually caught K looking vaguely in my direction a couple of times but she was uneasy the entire time. I think that her nose had given her information that I didn't have.
She scaled a huge rock!
Just kidding. It towered about a foot off the ground. That's my limit for K's climbing until her cast comes off, and she gets strong again.

After I dropped K off at home enjoying a kong with yummy dog food frozen inside it, I pedaled out of our clearing on my own. I moved silently, almost stealthily, soaking up the winter quiet of the forest. I was the first human to travel on one of my favorite trails since the snow. A cadre of coyotes had milled about at the start of the trail, and then they'd moved out in a single file line. I love snow because I can see the animal stories!
Finally, after days of clouds enshrouding the mountains, the rocky behemoths sparkled in their new coat of snow. I did a mountain bike ride that let me gaze at the peaks from different viewpoints.

From a sun-warmed ridge...
From a rocky cliff with the moon hanging high...
From a pine forest...
What a glorious winter day!


  1. It must be very cool to follow the tracks in the snow. Do you ever find tracks that you don't recognize?

    Good to know that pepper spray scares mountain lions!

    Your pal, Pip

  2. I got excited following fox and skunk tracks in the snow last year. There are rumors about a bear having been sighted near here recently. I can't imagine living with montain lions in the area!

  3. I would be so scared having Mountain Lions so close to my house. The Coyote looks very healthy. On the average how much snow is usually on the ground during the winter months?

  4. How very cool! I've been lucky enough to see a mountain lion cross the road one morning.


  5. So beautiful but I would be so uncomfortable with all the mountain lion tracks. Our friend is a parkranger and tracks the mountain lions here in a loca lwilderness park. Be safe. As far as we know nothing will stop the lion
    Benny & Lily

  6. Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara want you to know that they are quite impressed with that one foot rock climb - it is far more than they have ever done.

    What a sweet pic of Astro and K:)

  7. I always love to see the tracks in the snow because to me, they tell a story, and yours really tell a story--But I think K wasn't crazy about the one the tracks told today!

  8. I, personally, am jealous of you at the moment - winter is the best time of the year! I might not feel the same after a few months of it, but, for now, I will live vicariously through the chilly pictures you share on your blog.

  9. I read it all, and enjoy what I read. What does my heart remember?
    A pudgy baby K all snugged up to the older Brother. So adorable!

    Just another Puppy Pushover,

    Jo (and Stella too!)

  10. I love seeing K no matter whether she's looking straight at the camera or not. She's just such a beauty!

    I am not ready to think about Winter here, but I am admiring your pictures a lot!

  11. Beautiful pictures!
    I was at the edge of my seat when I read about K scaling the rock!

    I am glad you said that you carried pepper spray, because I was wondering what types of precautions you take with all the wildlife around you.

  12. Glad to hear the winds have died down. Amazing how the landscape can calm down after a front like that blows in. Everything seems so quiet and serene. That coyote looks so robust and healthy - here in Tx they look gaunt, coats less full. We heard them yipping last night and I felt lucky to have been within earshot.
    Glad to know that you picked up on K's signals - dogs always seem at least one step ahead of us when it comes to seeing the unseen!

  13. Your tracks in the snow.... make me shiver.
    They remind me of the ones I have seen in the mud, snow, frost-
    and I wonder who they belong to.
    And sometimes I wonder if they are watching me.
    K is cautious. I am sure you appreciate that.
    She is no longer the goofy little adorable puppy.!
    K knows her mountain ridges and hills and,,, tell ya what ,,,
    she is just gorgeous peering out at the big wide world.
    Our world is getting snow in the Cascades, a winter wonderland - like yours.

  14. Pepper spray ! I can barely remember to carry out the car keys.

  15. What absolutely beautiful pictures of the snow on the mountains!

    Interesting, and unusual, that K's attention was so diverted, but it's nice to see her from different angles.

  16. those mountain lion paw prints are pretty sizable...i wouldn't want to run into one with out some pepper spray!
    good job to K for scaling the massive rock. ;)
    oh, and i love the picture of puppy K and astro together. adorable!

  17. K's noses indeed knows. Love that baby picture of her.

    Thursday was a terrific day. Today (Friday) is a little breezy, but not too bad.

    I hope you are safe from this latest fire.

  18. Wow!! Love seeing the snowy peaks in the background. What a backdrop for a ride!

    It's hard for me to believe that winter has already arrived in your forest. It seems as though it just left! I guess that's part of living so high up. I'm looking forward to our temps dropping out of the 80's over the's time for Fall!

  19. one day you're going to have to write me and tell me the secret to getting the dogs a good workout and a bike ride in. I've tried and tried. it's so hard to do both for me. but then again, I've never been one to do more than one sport/day. the dogs and I walk between an 1 and 2 hours most days. one or two days/week we'll go for 3 or 3.5 but that's because the sibe really pushes me to do it. she would go for 3.5 hours/day every day if she could! anyway, i've always found it difficult to balance both and wondered how you manage to do it.

    k's looking good. can't wait to see her toe-sies again.


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