Thursday, December 18, 2008


This morning the world dawned fresh and clear. The sun shined uninterrupted by clouds onto a shimmering white world. Every bush was brought low by mounded heaps of snow, and every branch and twig was etched in white. It was an extraordinarily beautiful morning by anyone's standards. I went for a walk through the grounds snapping a few snowy pictures for the camp's promotional materials and then I walked back home along the eastern stretch of the nature trail. As I neared a place we call coyote rock I found some very fresh bobcat tracks. I believe they were fresh because there was a lot of snow falling from the trees, but there was no snow in the tracks. They were very clear. I got down on one knee and examined them closely. You could even see the faint impression of fur around the edges of the tracks. No doubt, my labored breathing and crashing progress scared it away. I'm somewhat less than stealthy.
Here you can see where the bobcat slinked into a little cave to get out of the snow for a while. Can't you just picture it shaking the snow from its paws before settling down in there. I walked around to the back of the cave and sure enough the tracks ducked out a small opening in the rear. I have examined this little cave before and the ceiling of it is black from smoke. I am convinced that at one time the rock stood up leaning against the bigger boulder behind it. This made a cave where I think the indians used to camp. At some point the rock fell down to its present position, but the underside of the ceiling is still blackened from the old campfires. This picture doesn't illustrate the point very well, but I'm not trudging back up there to get better pictures of it. Maybe I'll do a future post on the old Indian cave. My own investigation has convinced me that this is the cave's story, but I could be wrong. I wonder who I could take up there to corroborate my suspicions. I wonder if the Idyllwild History museum could give me a name.

Aren't Bobcat tracks cute. I wish I had set a penny or something next to it to show scale. They were definitely bigger than a house cats, but slightly smaller then most dog tracks. You can tell a cat track, I have learned, by the shape of the track (canine tracks are longer then they are wide with the fifth pad less pronounced), the lack of claw imprints (cats retract their claws when walking along), and the shape of the base pad (canine's are pointed in front while as the pad of a cat has a slight indentation at the top). Mountain lion tracks are similar in appearance but larger- typically about the size of a CD. The tracks of a Mountain Lion's front paws are noticeably larger than the rear paws while as canine tracks are uniformly the same size front and back. I couldn't discern any difference in size between the Bobcat's front and rear paws so I wonder if that is a trait unique to Mountain Lion tracks. Maybe so.


Anonymous said...

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but that's not a bobcat track. Bobcats only have four claws. Sorry.

barefootkangaroo said...

Good eye! Actually though one of those is actually not part of the track but rather a result of falling snow. It only had four digits.