One is getting out at sunrise with Shyla. Yesterday, it was so cold during our photo session that my fingers completely lost circulation. I have Ranaud Syndrome so that's not too uncommon but still can bring tears to my eyes due to the pain when they rewarm.
It's worth it though - when I get to see my girl in that incredible light.
I do lots of action shots so that Shyla doesn't get cold. This one is from last winter when Shyla surprised me with a huge jump. She is an incredible athlete.
Another touchstone activity for happiness is wildlife observation. A few days ago, I went to check the bear den that I know about, and it was empty. My spirits were deflated. There's nothing like having the den being occupied by a sow and cubs to keep me excited all winter long.
Over the past year since last December, no bears checked out the den. In previous years, bears arrive in the summer, climb into the den, stay inside it for 2-3 minutes, and then leave. I presume that they are checking out its comfort to decide whether it's a candidate for their den the next winter. It's a big den so I think that it's best suited to a sow who will have cubs sharing it.
Despite the den disappointment, I did recently have a bunch of wildlife excitement when my friend called to say that he had a mountain lion on his land being harassed by coyotes. I hurried over, and we had fun solving the wildlife mystery. We found the reason for carnivore activity - a fairly fresh cow elk carcass. We set up a couple of trail cams. Over the past few nights, my cams have recorded the lion-coyote interactions around the huge meal. It's amazing to see how bold the coyotes are with the lion - trying to drive him off the carcass. I have a lot of footage to sift through but I hope to share some soon.
For now, here's our well fed mountain lion as he departed the kill the other night. Believe it or not, this photo was followed by a video of coyotes chasing the lion! I had no idea that a lion would run from animals who are a mere fraction of his body weight.