Two of the giant protectors of the Marcus Landslide Trail watch over me at sunrise, in the distance on the hill on the left the rock I call The Guardian, closer to me on the right an old if less ancient saguaro. I love this trail but haven’t been in a while, while I’d like to rectify that I’ve been too tired for any early hikes the past couple of weeks.
A xenolith provides a handy perch for a Gambel’s quail to survey the surrounding desert. This xenolith has tricked me many times as at a distance it looks like it could be a spiny lizard sunning on the boulder, and even though I know better I often can’t help from looking through the long lens, just to be sure. It’s not an entirely bad instinct, it’s how one day I went back for a second look and turned a cactus into a bobcat.
One more bobcat photo, this is the first one I took of my second ever sighting. Though most of the sky was blue, there were low lying clouds in the east that were frequently changing the light. This morning it worked in my favor as clouds partially obscured the sun as I walked back to check out what initially looked like a coyote-shaped cactus. The clouds not only softened the light but made it more diffuse so that the left side of the cat’s face isn’t in such deep shadow. If I could only choose one I’d prefer the shot where it is peering over the rocks but I also like how here the bobcat’s lovely face is fully shown while it verified I wasn’t a threat before settling in for a nap.
There are moments on the trails you never forget. In the Tetons, when a black bear casually sauntered down the trail towards me. A gorgeous black bear I had to slowly follow up the path at Mount Rainier. A scrum of bighorn sheep rams in Yellowstone. My first Gila monster. My first bobcat, and my second.
I woke up far too early Monday morning and couldn’t get back to sleep so I went out for a short hike at a nearby trailhead. I was nearing the end of the Jane Rau Trail, hoping to see a spiny lizard I had spotted on a previous hike. My eye caught a pair of ears high in the rocks, or so it seemed at first glance, a cactus with the face of a coyote. The lizard wasn’t there but thankfully I had time to walk back to get a better look at the cactus as I couldn’t remember seeing it before. Looking through the telephoto lens I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw eyes looking back at me, the ears were indeed ears, pointed towards the heavens. My second ever bobcat. As the rising sun grew stronger the sleepy cat dropped into the shadows and settled down, time for us to part, time to get ready for work.
Even after a couple of decades of photography I can get a little too excited and not set up the camera or the shot properly. I didn’t realize it at the time but all those years she was training me for this moment, my sweet Em, to photograph beauty looking down upon me. Relax, breathe, enjoy the moment. Miss you Em.