On a dark, snowy New Year's eve afternoon, ten (or so) years ago, two friends and I hiked into the woods. It seemed a good idea at the time. Small flakes were begining to fall, dusting the path and looking very seasonal. A perfect way to end the year. I knew the main trail well and we moved along it quickly. We were out for a walk, with the need to explore. When we passed a small trail to left we decided to take it, just to see where it went. Within a short time, the snow began in earnest. The trail, what there was of it, was still evident and we felt we could easily follow our steps back the way we came. No worries, at least for two of us. We continued. The snow fell harder and fast, and before very long there were inches of snow mounting on top of the now obliterated trail. Visibility was failing. We continued, now with a slight feeling of adventure. We'd hiked together many times in the snow, often on snow shoes. No matter the weather, it was shaping up to be a perfect afternoon. Anyone who walks in the woods in this part of New England knows that trails are often more evident with snow cover than in the summer when covered by new growth. I say again, we were not worried. Besides, this is hardly wilderness. Walk in any direction for an hour and surely you will cross a road. My story ends well. Our tracks were obliterated by the sudden and heavy snow that afternoon. We managed to find our way back to the main trail, and home to a warm fire. But.. since that time, I've never been quite sure which trail we took.
..and that brings me to yesterday.
I decided to try another side trail, just to see if maybe it was the one. See the little black arrow heading off to the left? It isn't easy to see. Maybe with snow. As I walked, the trail widened. It was beautiful, passing several areas of high ledges and winding around small hills. I passed a pile of fox scat, then another, this one with vomit next to it. ( I know, I really am going somewhere with this.) Animals like using trails in the same way we do. It makes the going easier. Why they have to leave scat in the middle of the trail instead of conveniently off to the side.. oh well. I walked the trail to the end, then turned around. On the way back, I passed a rather larger pile of scat that I hadn't seen a half hour earlier. Coyote, for sure. But then I started thinking. Really, would I know the difference between a dog and a coyote? Probably depends on what they had for dinner. Then it came to me.. I had my phone. Was there an app for scat?
I laughed all the way home.