Dancing With A Coyote: A Sleeping Bear Dunes Trail Adventure
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
|Coyote in cedar thicket on Alligator Hill Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore |
Photo by Jonathan Schechter
The moment was primordial and unscripted and occured about one hour cross country ski time
along the Alligator Hill Trail, a meadering trail that crosses some of the wilder sections of Sleeping
Bear and affords excellent views of Lake Michigan. I had just descended a long down hill section
and stopped to pause and take in the sights of the deep woods in an area of windfalls. Steep hills
were on both sides. Large trees, snapped near their bases told me storms command this land. And
then j,ust when I dropped my ski poles to the ground, and unzipped my coat (exposing my camera
in the process) and was about to stuff my mittens within the coat before answering my call of
nature's need, I detected movement 30 yards away.
I was not alone.
An adult coyote stood and stared. I know he saw me, but he would not look directly at me.
I suspect he had been cat napping in the snow and perhaps my falling poles, or descending zipper
noise told him he had company. He appeared startled. But he did not bolt. I quickly yipped twice
hoping to hold his attention: His glance at me could have been amusement or perhaps it was a
look of disgust, "Hey stupid, I know you are not a coyote." But for the next 30 seconds we
watched each other. He kept glancing around for reasons I do not know, and that encouraged me to
do the same. I turned back around and with out even a goodbye, old yellow eyes melted magically back
into the forest. Note my use of "melted magically". If I was not a fan of wild things I would have
said, "slinked sullenly". But it will be a long time before I forgot our shared dance of observation,
in a peaceful and raw moment of interactions.