Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dancing With A Coyote: A Sleeping Bear Dunes Trail Adventure

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. 
Same coyote without camera lens zooming in.  photo by Jonathan Schechter


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love reading your blog & weekly column Jonathan. Photos & stories likes this just make me want more! Thanks for sharing!

February 9, 2011 at 8:46 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was doing the Greenridge trail on Isle Royal I had a rabbit come into my 15' clearing while having dinner, and then he was gone. Not even 30 seconds later, Mr. Fox comes through sniffing around, all within two feet of me. I said, "He went dat da way!" and he was off and running. LMAO

February 9, 2011 at 10:42 AM 

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