Last week, I decided to grind my very wide fat bike tires through unpacked snow to check some trail cameras. The amount of snow on my route varied from 8" to zero, depending on the sun exposure.
As I started my ride, big and wide mountain lion tracks joined my route to lead me to my cameras.
I had no doubt that they were mountain lion tracks. They were big, although far from the biggest that I've ever seen. My chemical handwarmer is 3.25" long and is in the next photo for scale.
As I followed the lion, I got to see all the small deviations between his route and the path covered by my cameras. I dropped my bike and carried my GPS as I recorded his route to examine later and possibly adjust a camera location. He evaded one camera by climbing up a hillside. Then, he passed by another camera to let us see him.
Then, we came into an open area, and there was no snow to record tracks. However, a quick check of a camera showed that the lion had come through there. I'm learning that this open area is very special to the mountain lions. It is one of the few areas where they feel comfortable enough to be out in daylight on a regular basis. I sure hope that humans don't discover it!
The lion who I'd been following was only the most recent one - there had been an unprecedented number of lions wandering around our neck of the woods over the past few weeks. I think that the mild winter might be the reason why they are staying at our relatively high elevation this winter.
The "mild" temperatures came to a halt for the weekend. I watched the temperature plummet by 25°F in a very short time on Friday night. Then, it started to snow. I really wanted to check another camera for this post so I made a quick foray to it, barely keeping myself from freezing while standing still to deal with the cam. However, it was worth it - I found even more footage of lions! I'm glad that I endured the agony to my poor Raynaud's addled fingers.
I made a video (on Youtube) of the activities of the mountain lions over the past couple of weeks, including one lion who went up on his hind limbs to sniff high in a tree! Almost all the lions looked very healthy and well fed.
I hope that you've enjoyed my Wildlife Monday post!