Winter Light

The shortest and coldest days are upon us in the northern hemisphere.


California Zephyr, Dec. 7, 2013

California Zephyr near Pinecliffe, Dec. 7, 2013 (click for larger)


It hasn’t been above freezing for a while now.  To make matters worse, on one of the coldest nights when temperatures were below zero on the Fahrenheit scale, the power went out for about 7 hours.  No heat during that time.

I’m still very busy with work and haven’t had much time for hiking or photos.

I was able to grab a short hike one afternoon this past week.  The temperature was 8, but I was dressed fairly warm.  No one had been on the trail so mine were the only human footprints.  I did note there were quite a few deer tracks and was glad they weren’t all hunted.

After about 30 minutes, I was walking along, lost in my thoughts, as I often am on solo hikes, when I suddenly became aware that I was following the tracks, not of a deer, but of a mountain lion who was going in the same direction I was.


Mountain lion paw print in the snow.

Mountain lion paw print in the snow. This print was about 3.5 to 4 inches wide.


When a mountain lion leaves tracks, the front paw leaves a print and then the back paw steps almost exactly in the same spot, over-printing the front paw print.  So much of the time it’s hard to get a good print because its been stepped on twice.   Because it’s a cat with retractable claws, there is rarely a claw mark, unlike canines and bears.

After studying the track for a few minutes, I opted not to continue following it.  I felt a bit chilled after seeing the size of the paw prints, especially the distance from one print to the next.  That was one big kitty.



4 thoughts on “Winter Light

  1. That is cold for a hike! I’m glad you decided not to stay on the same path as the mountain lion!

    We haven’t been above minus C in several days, unusual for us.

    • It’s been a while since I’ve seen lion tracks around here, too. Usually the deer head for the lower elevations in the winter and the lions follow. And perhaps that’s what this was.

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