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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Celebration hike and mountain lion visit

A long time ago, I earmarked today to have K's birthday adventure, an outing for the two of us to hike up high into the alpine tundra. It's been our annual tradition but, last year, K had to have surgery on her birthday due to what we eventually learned was a bone infection in her toe. In the end, it led to the amputation of her toe. The vet said that K might not be able to mountain bike or do tough hikes after the amputation but, to my giddy delight, K still does those things without showing any pain. I've just scaled back the length and difficulty of our hikes and rides, and it's worked beautifully.
This year, I am determined not to miss her celebrations (we also plan to celebrate as a pack in the near future) but I have a very sore throat this morning. I'm going to try to pretend that I'm not sick so that we don't miss our big day. I hope that we can hike up above treeline since we both love it so much!

Earlier this week, I mentioned that a mountain lion had passed through the middle of our trail network at 4 PM on Sunday, a relatively busy time for human hikers on our trails. The lion visited a scentpost where numerous animals have marked over the past year, including multiple mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes. Both deer and elk visit the spot to sniff the markings. This mountain lion was drawn to the spot like iron to a magnet.
After sniffing, he set up to scrape the ground with his hind paws and urinate, looking very Zen as he did it.
But then, something startled him - I'll never know what it was. I suspect that a hiker passed by on a trail that sits about 50 yards away from this spot, and the lion whipped his head in that direction.
He walked directly to the position where it's possible to see the trail without being seen by whoever is on it.
Then, he stood there for a long pause before walking onward.
I believe that I've photographed this lion many times in the past (examples include January, August, and earlier this month). Interestingly, this lion is active in daylight more often than other lions. I've never seen him mark his territory before. Generally, males mark far more often than females so I'm now guessing that this is a male.

Only one other mountain lion has ever marked this scentpost. All the others sniff it and walk by without leaving their calling cards. The lion who marks it possesses bulging  muscles and has avoided being collared over the two years that I've photographed him. I suspect that he's *the* dominant cat around here. You can see his behavior here and here.
I made a flipbook video of the recent mountain lion visit which you can view here or at Youtube.
I absolutely love getting photos of these elusive creatures.


  1. Hi Y'all,

    Hope your throat feels better really quick.

    I don't know about you, but usually my sore throats are from sinus blocking at night so I sleep with my mouth open. Hope yours is nothing serious!

    Love the pictures of K and the capture of the lion.

    BrownDog's Human

  2. Happy Day for K....toe pic is a big check mark perfect!

  3. I hope you and K had a wonderful celebration hike! You both have a lot to be celebrating! and i hope your throat feels better soon!

  4. Happy Celebration for you and K!

    Beautiful Lion!


  5. Your photos always take my breath away! Hope you feel better soon.

  6. We so hope you and K had a wonderful birthday celebration today. Please give her a big hug from us.

  7. I am so glad that you and K can still enjoy your favorite past times!

    So, does the collared lion marking mean that he's starting to challenge the other dominant lion in the area? He's certainly a bold fellow! I can't wait to see how it all plays out!

  8. Today is K's birthday? My mommys too!
    I hope your sore throat does not last long. And I hope you get to do all that you wanted.
    Those mountain lion photos are fantastic! Such close ups.

  9. i hope your sore throat goes away swiftly.

    always wonderful to see what you capture on film!

  10. Who'd ever have imagined I'd turn on the computer to see a mountin lions pit stop ? Education never ends .

  11. Feel better soon!

    Amazing shots of the lions..crazy scary, thinking of a passing hiker being so close and never knowing!

  12. I, too, hope you are feeling better, by my oh my, what a way to nurse that thoat back to health, celebrations and studying your mountain visitors!


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