Montana Outdoors

January 11, 2008

A new playground

Today was spent snooping around a brand new playground called Forest Service trail #223, most of which is within the South Siegel roadless area. Well, I had a pretty good idea it was there, but had never visited. It runs for 8 or 9 miles on the south side of the Clark Fork (to the left in this photo)

Clark Fork on the cutoff

where the river flows eastward for about 20 miles through the Coeur d’Alene mountains between the South Siegel roadless area and the Patrick’s Knob roadless area, a section called “the cutoff”.

On the trail, about a mile from where this photo was taken,

Clark Fork on the cutoff

beyond the river and over the hill, I missed a very, very big cougar by only a few seconds. As I stepped over the sharp crest of a steep slope there were skid marks on the trail ahead, much like those one would leave when stopping quickly on short skis, where he sensed my presence, slid to a halt and then sprang off the trail and down into a deep canyon. If only I had been a little more alert! Here’s what his track looked like beside my boot.

Cat track!

The prints of his pads can clearly be seen, but consider also the smooth shadow around the pads where the rest of his foot pressed into the snow. His foot was wider than mine! As I followed his track as far as I could, I was filled with a strong feeling that there are still some very wonderful things left in this world!

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