K and I strolled out into a warm and sunny day, enjoying being able to walk a little further than we have in months. With a boot, she's still supposed to gradually increase her walking to regain her strength. We made it to a favorite photo spot. I love seeing my girl with the mountains and blue sky behind her.
Her face glowed in the warm sunshine. We both turned toward the sun, soaking up its rays.
R and I did a short mountain bike ride, stopping for a photo of him at a mountain viewpoint. He obsessed over a scent in the wind, and I idly wondered what smelled so fascinating. That thought turned out to be a harbinger of what I would soon discover.
Later in the day, I checked a wildlife camera. As I looked at the viewfinder, I stood bolt upright and started scanning the trees around me. Here's what I saw in the viewfinder.
As my mind spun like fury, I realized that the mountain lion had walked exactly the same path as me a very short time earlier. Here are a series of photos of him/her checking out my camera and then walking out of the clearing. In the top bar, you can see the photos numbered. For example, "1/10" means that it was the first photo in a rapid-fire series of ten.
In the close-ups of the lion, his radio and GPS collar is obvious. His ears have a tinge of green glowing from them because he wears ear tags. These markings tell us that our DOW trapped him and collared him so that they can follow his movements. This is the first time that a mountain lion photographed by my remote cameras captured a collared lion. All the others have been "naked".
Looking at the size of that collar and how it juts against his jaw, I wonder if it hinders his ability to deliver the killing bite that severs the spinal cord of a deer. I also wondered if having tags in both ears muffles his hearing. As you can tell, I'd prefer that we leave these magnificent creatures alone and let them be truly wild.
Regardless of those issues, getting a glimpse of the "liquid gold" of our forest lifted my spirits to the sky.