An inch or two of fresh powder and bluebird skies above lured me away from my desk on Monday for a mid-morning x-country ski outing with my lab.
Crisp but otherwise perfect conditions were the enticement; fresh fox tracks (I think) were the unanticipated reward.
Griffin, my water and snow loving labrador retriever was quick to find the scent of a recently visiting fox. Sniff, sniff, sniff.
Judging from the single line this fellow was doing the foxtrot, not just wandering aimlessly.
Foxes walk or trot in an alternating pattern, with prints nearly in a line. In shallow snow, foxes may trot in a two-print pattern or gallop in a four-print pattern. Dainty, oval tracks (2.3 to 3.1″ long) usually show small triangular foot pads, claw marks, and foot drag marks. (wildthingsultd.org)
Tracking a Foxtrotting Fox
I x-country skied all through Rosslyn’s meadows and woods for about an hour, and Griffin lunged giddily along, sending great colds of powdery snow up into the air. And throughout our adventures we kept crisscrossing the path of our foxtrotting friend. The fox tracks periodically followed my ski trail from the previous day, and at other times veered off on their own course. And yet throughout the 30+/- acres we were exploring the foxes tracks returned again and again.
There’s a pleasant geometry in x-country ski trails, and the linear perfection of the fox tracks added to it, at times creating the illusion of a loosely interpreted argyle pattern across the undulating fields.
Of course, Griffin was eager to pursue the fox tracks, but he mustered the focus to stay on course with me. And the reward was an extra long, extra fast workout for both of us.
Here are few more photos from our outing.