November 23, 2013

Cold Creek Coyote Gives Chase

Looking north-by-northeast at Indian Ridge from Cold Creek road
Three days of drizzly weather enticed me to try fishing Cold Creek in the snow. I wasn’t sure how low the snow got down, but a look toward Red Rock Canyon and La Madre Mountain indicated that it was about 5,000 feet. Knowing Cold Creek Pond was at 5,900 feet I knew I would be driving in the snow. Still, it was worth an early morning adventure.

When I left the house at 6:30 AM the temperature was about 40 degrees. When I got to Cold Creek at 7:15 am my truck thermometer said it was 31 degrees. There was a light but steady rain the whole time, but as expected at 5,000 feet it turned into a light snow.
Another view of Indian Ridge from about 5,100 feet elevation
I stopped near Indian Ridge to take some snow pictures because the ridge made a little contrast in the white of the snowfall. About another half-mile up the road I came upon a jackrabbit that ran into the road and stopped and sat for a few seconds. Since my camera was already on I snapped a picture. The jackrabbit then took off up the road, and I followed slowly in the truck.
First sighting of the jackrabbit sitting in middle of road - 5,300 feet elevation
(note that my camera has just a 3x optical zoom, so all these
"chase" pictures are zoomed and cropped digitally, which
when added to the snowfall makes them very fuzzy)

Jackrabbit takes off up the road, and suddenly a coyote appears giving chase
The hood of the Trout Truck on lower right gives
some perspective as to their distance from me
Suddenly a coyote emerged from the snow on the left side of the road and gave chase. At first they ran straight up the road, then the jackrabbit zigged and zagged back and forth, sometimes jumping into the snow-covered high desert scrub, but the coyote never let up.

At times I was 50 to 75 yards away, but even from that distance it seemed the coyote was gaining on the jackrabbit. At one point the jackrabbit stopped on the right side just off what should have been the pavement (it was covered in snow), and I thought he was done for. The coyote appeared to catch up, and then he pounced on the jackrabbit only to experience the jackrabbit’s speed and agility.

After the pouncing coyote fails to grab the stationary rabbit,
the coyote-dodging jackrabbit takes off down the road toward the Trout Truck
To my surprise, the jackrabbit reversed direction and ran back down the road toward my truck, eventually passing just on my left. The coyote seemed more wary of the truck and he bounded off to the right passing about 50 yards on that side. I marveled at how he bounded or bounced through the snow. If you didn’t know better you might have thought he was playing… but he wasn’t.
After jackrabbit passes by the left side of the
Trout Truck the coyote detours on the right side
to pick up the chase

The coyote never lost focus of the jackrabbit's whereabouts despite the Trout Truck
I looked out my rear window only to see the coyote again chasing the jackrabbit, this time switching back from the left side into the snow-covered bushes on the right side. I never saw them again, and I do not know what became of the life-and-death chase. Secretly, I was pulling for the jackrabbit although I understand completely about the laws of nature.
Snow begins to get deeper at 5,700 feet elevation - fishing aborted
Obviously, no mention of jackrabbits!
I proceeded up the road, got as far as the large BLM sign, but at 5,700 feet the snow was now about 6-inches deep and I had another 300 feet in elevation to gain, not to mention the rocky dirt road down to the pond that had one or two boulders that I might not miss due to the snow. So, I decided to abort the fishing and return home. After all, it wasn’t the fishing I was after this morning, it was an adventure. The coyote and jackrabbit provided plenty of that for me, and the fishing wasn’t going to add anything to that experience. I was very pleased to have witnessed a tiny part of God’s natural world as he designed it.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I am sure the jack rabbit is giving thanks for cover, and rabbit holes. Have a great Thanksgiving.