Feb. 27, 2012 “Wiley”

Day 27

Wiley

Painting a Day Project – Day 27

“Wiley”

“Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and numbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy.”  –Hamlin Garland

Our last trip to RMNP proved to be a great time to see coyotes.  We’ve always been lucky enough to see one or two while there and always heard them of an evening while camped in Moraine Park, however the sightings were usually quick and a fair distance away.  This last trip, however, we were blessed to see 3 or 4 different “dogs” and had the opportunity to see how they behave in their natural environment without knowing we were watching.

We saw a mother and young one yip and howl to each other from across the valley and finally run across Sheep Meadows to reunite.  They jumped around and played before heading back across the meadow.

We were also lucky enough to come upon a young one hunting one morning.  We watched, photographed, and recorded it for over an hour in one of the meadows.  We had him all to ourselves—a couple of people came by while we were watching him, but they didn’t see what we saw.  A coyote’s fur blends so well with the grasses and brush most people (and probably most prey) never know they were there.  We watched him stick his nose in the grasses then raise his head and listen, then next thing you’d know, he’d hunker down and leap through the air, pouncing on whatever he was after….if he was lucky.  If he wasn’t, he’d stick his nose back in the grasses, with his butt up in the air, tail up and wagging until he’d catch the scent of another possibility.  So much fun to watch!  We did finally see him become successful.  Not sure what he caught, all we could see was him taking a break, with his head up and crunching on something.  The winds finally changed and he caught our scent.  He looked straight up at us and then turned and started walking away.  Every so often he would turn and look at us again, I guess to make sure we weren’t following.  Maybe he had a “honey hole” of a hunting spot he was headed to and didn’t want us to find it!

There was also one particular night when the coyotes were very active in Moraine Park.  The moon was almost full, the wind was still, and we’d just settled down to bed in our tent when the first one started to howl.  It was soon joined by others and soon, it was a coyote concert.  They seemed to be moving closer and closer and then they kind of quieted down.  Just as I was dozing off, the encore performance started.  I jerked awake, just as a car alarm started going off…..yes, a car alarm.  They were so close and loud that they startled someone else in the campground and caused them to hit their car alarm button on their keychain or the coyotes themselves actually set the alarm off, not sure which.  Regardless, the car alarm started going off and the hub and I just rolled over and started laughing.  What else can you do??  Whoever owned the car finally got the alarm shut off and the coyotes moved along.  We rolled over and stared at the stars through the tent roof for a while and finally dozed off again.

 

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