Yesterday evening, K started licking at her amputation site fiendishly. I looked and saw a very new lump up high on her paw where the metacarpal bone was surgically severed.
Because I knew that today's schedule was going to be determined by the packed appointment books of vets, K and I headed out for our morning hike at first light. The lump on her paw didn't seem to hurt her during walking - so I decided that we should seize the day.
As we headed out, the rising sun set the treetops ablaze while the lower branches remained dark, waiting for their turns to shine.
As we arrived, the eastern horizon dawned into a streaked canvas of oranges and reds overlaid on the dark clouds high above the earth.
As I angled for a photo with my weak lens, many of the orange-red males and yellow females flew to higher branches. One handsome gentleman stayed still, allowing me a quick photo.
It turned out that due to K's vet appointment, I didn't have much time to ride my mountain bike. However, in the brief loop that I pedaled, I ran across another segment of the mountain lion's travels. He'd taken a big loop to the east between where I first spotted his tracks on Sunday and then saw them again on Monday.
The first set that I saw was melted out and looked huge compared to the ones that I saw on previous days. At first, I wondered if yet another lion had recently passed through our neighborhood.
I've now seen about 5 miles of the arduous route taken by the lion. I've never followed the tracks of a mountain lion so far, and it gives me a sense of amazement to know how hard a lion works to find his prey. He takes many steps with his huge paws in between meals. He also passes up easy targets in the human neighborhoods and relentlessly searches for deer or elk instead.
At the end of my short ride, I hurried home to take K to the vet. We learned that the lump is either the bone infection rearing its ugly head again or a bruise. We're going to watch the lump for a few days to see if it shrinks as rapidly as a bruise should. If it doesn't improve quickly, we'll start heading down a diagnostic and treatment road that I'd rather not contemplate. For now, I'm trying to assume that it's a bruise!