Today Jack and I walked all the way to Queen Ann Falls--about a 2 mile hike from door to falls. The weather was beautiful: sunny with a slight breeze and pushing 70 degrees. Everything is just starting to really bloom this far north so apple blossoms and cherry blossoms and not-yet-open lilacs are plentiful. The perfect day for a really long walk. Perfect, that is, until we saw the coyote.
I'm the sort of person who hates suspense so I'll tell you right up front that everyone is fine: Jack, me, the coyote, Queen Ann. I'll also say that honestly I'm not keen to be a stones-throw from a coyote while on foot with a goofball dog two miles from my house ever, ever again. I'm thinking Jack might have to settle for fetching sticks in the back yard for a while.
So, here's what happened...
Jack and I headed out for our favorite trail around 11:30 this morning. On our way we passed a neighbor fishing on the banks of the turtle pond. She'd driven there on her 4-wheeler (and I'll admit I had a weak moment when I felt morally superior for having walked there instead of driven there) but we had a nice chat about the big snapping turtle that lives in the pond, what few, small fish there were, the weather. Jack got a chance for a drink and then off he and I went. Another mile or so up the hill to look at the falls.
On our way we were passed by two rugged individuals on yet more 4-wheelers (and yes, I went from feeling morally superior, to mildly annoyed by the noise and the dust). Jack and I were not to be deterred. We were on an adventure, so on we went. By the time we reached the top the men who'd passed us had pulled off the trail to have a beer. We had a nice chat about the weather, the falls, and the spot with the best view. Jack and I proceeded down the narrowing trail to a good perch just above the river.
I've been there before and thought the greatest danger was the steepness of the trail and how well I can control Jack on a walk. (The headlines I envisioned were "Woman Falls to Death at Queen Ann Falls" or "Dog Walk Turns Tragic.") The idea of packs of coyotes did not enter my mind.
And alright, it was just one scraggly coyote trotting along the rocks at the river's edge not "packs of coyotes!" But Jack and I didn’t stick around to find out where the rest of the pack might be. The coyote was a lean fellow, moving quickly, his nose to the ground. I suppose he was on the scent (not of us thankfully). I was impressed by how quickly Jack went back up that steep hill without so much as a growl. Apparently he knows when to beat a retreat. And I have to admit I was relieved to see the fellows with the beer and the 4-wheelers were still there, just in case I needed to hitch a ride.