Friday, January 29, 2010

Stories in the Snow

One of my favorite past times in winter is to take an early morning walk just after fresh snow has fallen. This week I headed out early following my old route west towards Trails End Ranch and the National Forest. It wasn’t long before I found myself following a path that others had used in the last hour or so.

The first set of tracks was from my old friend, Bob. Actually Bob is a bobcat that I rarely see in person. His tracks came out from our stallion’s pasture along South Brush Creek. I chuckled at the fact that he was using my old trail to get around – it’s always easier to walk in someone else’s tracks in the snow. He continued on for at least a quarter of a mile until he drifted off the trail back into the woods. Bobcat tracks always seem so purposeful, not like Wiley’s.

Shortly after Bob left my trail, I picked up Wiley’s trail. As you might imagine, Wiley is a coyote. Wiley is definitely the alpha male in the area judging from the size of his footprints and his numerous markings. In the course of 2 miles, he marked at least 4 or 5 spots, some on the trail and some just off. As we continued along, his tracks would veer off the trail as if he was checking on something, then re-join the trail heading west.

After about three quarters of a mile, Wiley was joined by another coyote, then another. Near the end of my walk there was an interesting sight in the snow. It was obvious that another coyote had joined the group. This coyote must have been very submissive because I could see where the animal had laid down in the snow in front of Wiley. There was some scuffling and then they all continued to the irrigation culvert to see if the rabbit who lives in there was home.

It was time for me to head home and get to work. But before I left I took one more look at the stories in the snow and reminded myself just how amazing this all was.

From Fleur Creek Farm.