Monday, September 10, 2007

Did Someone Say "Go Take a Hike?"

Well, we did...

...with our nature notebooks and fieldguides in hand and the Littles in our backpacks. It was a beautiful early autumn day on top of Colorado's Grand Mesa (which, btw, is the largest mesa in the world!). There was a bit of a haze, so we couldn't see the San Juans from the overlooks, but the sun was shining and the sky was a misty blue. The air was cool and crisp, the only sound the birdsong in the background and the light breeze whispering in the aspens (Well, except for the children chattering, and Anna complaining about rocks in her shoes). The aspen (also known here as "quakies") are only just beginning to turn palest gold on top of the mesa. We're still a week or two away from their golden glory days, but there are signs of autumn color all around if you look closely. See, below, the baneberry leaves turning crimson (None of the poisonous berries in sight, though!).

Here and there, mostly on the ground, we spotted signs of fall. We kept thinking we saw poison oak or ivy and thought that it would actually be a good thing to point some out, so as to warn the children away from it, but all the "leaves of three" we didn't need to let be.

We were also on the lookout for tracks of any kind. We saw hoofprints, from a kindly horse and rider that passed by (The horse was named Chunky and we all got to pet and visit with him.). We saw a good number of ATV tracks, as our trail today, Scotland Trail, permits access to ATVs, horses, and hikers. But, most interesting, the children spotted, in some drying mud, some very large tracks (app. 3"-4" across) that we at first couldn't identify. It looked like both of the animal's visible footprints had six toes! We finally decided it must be a mountain lion; what looked like a sixth toe we think might just be creases in the pads of its feet. A bit of a scary thought, though! Yikes! A mountain lion! What if it had been up in the rocks looking down at us?

Did you see the picture of the tracks in the above post? (I'd have posted them right exactly

here, but I'm having trouble manipulating the pics here on blogspot! Sheesh! I'm such a computer ignoramous! But I'll figure it out yet. If it kills me.)

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