The girls and I went to the ski mountain to play this morning. We were there three days ago, first time this spring/summer. I knew we'd have to turn back about three miles up because of too much snow under the trees, but that's OK. Any day on the trail is a good day. And Maia, at nine, is happy to keep our runs a little shorter. Meadow, at seven, agrees. It's so hard seeing them age and slow down.

In order to make the outing more interesting for the girls, I took us up a steeper route at the start, and then down the usual trail - Elk Trail - on the way back. Six miles total Three days ago, we went up and back Elk for the same distance, not making it quite as high on the mountain but covering about the same total distance.

Today, on the way back down Elk, in a section of old snow under the trees, I saw these prints:
The upper one appeared to me to be a bear paw. The lower one was a little odd - not the usual sharp elk or deer print, but something wider with more rounded indentations, yet not quite like the upper one. It seemed to have only two toe indentations. Neither print was there three days ago.
I took this photo of Meadow looking at the prints, to give some size perspective. (The uppermost, smaller print is Maia's; she had already walked through her.) Since this patch of snow wasn't very large, it may be that the animal - bear, cougar, Bigfoot...? - only had to step onto the snow once or twice.

A little online research teaches me that black bear prints have five toes making indentations, while a cougar print is almost as big but with only four toes. Hmm. Too hard to tell, here. It could be either. Or Bigfoot.

I was a little surprised Maia didn't seem concerned about the prints; she didn't try to sniff them. Meadow wasn't very interested, either. I think the prints were fairly fresh, as they weren't full of pine needles and other debris.

A mystery. Just part of the fun of running through the forest with the girls.