Normally a dog is quite an asset on a hike or mountain bike ride; the human feeds off the dog's energy; it brings out our Inner Wild Child; it's as if the dog becomes an extension of our own nerve endings. But yesterday my dog turned out to be a nuisance. Although I don't have an inordinate fear of heights and cliffs, I freak out when my kelpie, Coffee Girl, gets too near the edge of vertiginous trails. So I abandoned the Ouray RVing and Hiking Team and descended Bear Creak trail.
Most of the way back down I heard crashing through the forest and saw a large brown body through the leaves and needles. I snapped Coffee Girl back on her leash so she wouldn't chase the deer-like animal on still dangerous slopes. A half minute later this creature popped out on the trail:
My initial reaction was that this was the ugliest deer fawn that I've ever seen. It was pretty small; maybe hip high or so. It stood above us on the trail and looked right at us. It would take a couple tentative steps towards us and do a sheep-like baaa-aaa-aaa, and then pause. It repeated this a couple times.
We've all gotten in the habit of saying 'Google it' or 'look it up on Wikipedia' to any question these days. But I didn't have any luck in hearing recordings of the sounds that baby ruminants make. So unless a reader knows better I'll conclude that Junior was a bighorn sheep who got separated from momma.
A minute later a family of humans came hiking up the trail, with several young girls in the party. Their faces showed how upset they were about Junior's chances: they said it was being chased by a 'large fox' lower down the trail. A coyote is far more likely, but I'm not going to launch into one of my favorite stump speeches about city-slickers. It was just too precious to read the girls' faces and see their pained concern for Junior.