Java and I went out early Friday morning (6:40am), from Aspen Creek trailhead, up trail 48, shortcut to Sierra Prieta, and then down the singletrack and back to the trailhead. Around 12 miles. I like trail 48 because it is deep woods, lots of oak and shade in the summer.
Our early start meant we didn’t see any other people out there, though we surely weren’t alone. Java had some interest in this “stick.” Small, so probably a fawn mule deer, though too big to be a newborn.
This was just before the tight switchback with the log waterbars–the one I walk up.
After seeing that, we went again this morning, Sunday, at 7am. I was surprised that we were the only ones at the trailhead again, on the weekend. Same route as Friday. This time we saw this, just before the green gate, and then we went from a sunny, open section into the woods. I had the song from the recent Disney musical in my head, Into the Woods.
Perhaps the same fawn, maybe 1/4 – 1/2 mile away from what we saw Friday. I kept Java close this morning. Both mornings he gave a sniff, clearly noticing what was beside the trail, and then moved on. No need to tell him to leave it–he got that memo on his own.
I’ve convinced myself that I’m not going to see a mountain lion that doesn’t want to be seen. I pedaled along and noticed everything around me that is tannish-orange in color. That would include much of the dirt, many rocks, the underside of fallen trees that isn’t bleached by the sun, fallen leaves, dead needles/leaves on junipers, and enough other things to convince me that mountain lions picked a great color for stealth.
Java is not very stealth, with the white on his coat and his red “dog suit.” He’s enjoying his training for summer. Hopefully he can go on the group ride from Kennebec Pass on the Colorado Trail and we won’t have any incidents with a group like he and I did alone last summer. (Have you heard the story about him getting jumped on the Colorado Trail last summer? I didn’t see whatever it was. It was just me and Java that day, hours from anybody.)
Overall, I’ve been riding that trail most weekends for 6 summers now. I always thought that remote area probably has mountain lions. I still haven’t seen one. Now I can say I’ve seen a kill, likely mountain lion, along with the impressively huge footprint I saw a few years ago.