Here in northern Arizona (Bellemont), where I hiked this morning, the elevation is around 7200 feet, give or take, with the rocky terrain and hills. Last night we got some much needed rain. This morning, the sky was a combination of overcast and sunshine. As I walked, I saw some gray-headed Juncos, lupine and indian paintbrush wildflowers, and a coyote that emerged onto a large ponderosa pine laying on the ground. He looked at me for a second or two, then took off back into the woods. After I calmed down, as I was very excited, I kept on up a hill for a while. To my left, a large elk was standing in the pines looking at me. After a couple of seconds, he turned around with his large rack and went deeper into the woods. I moved on around a bend and a Stellar’s jay called me out to the forest. Quietly continuing on, down a hill and around another curve, an Abert squirrel called me out to the others who may not have heard the Stellar. The rest of the way, I also saw a couple of ravens and a few northern flickers. More wildflowers caught my eye with their summer blooms, giving off so much vibrant color. The only bad part of this hike was the mosquitoes. I do not like mosquitoes, so I must remind myself that they are a good food source for swallows, night-hawks, and bats. As far as I am concerned, when it comes to humans and mosquitoes, nobody wins. Humans will get bit by them with some consequences, such as pain, swelling, itching, or possible disease transmission, while the mosquito usually just dies at the swat of the human hand. Ending this hike, I saw a turkey vulture soar along the edge of the forest.
What to do if you see a coyote???
One coyote: Look at the coyote while slowly backing away. Maintain eye contact as coyotes are generally frightened of people and will not confront you. Make yourself large and imposing-looking. This can be achieved by holding a backpack above your head or opening up your jacket. Shout or make noise to frighten the coyote. Throw sticks or rocks to scare away if necessary.
A pack of coyotes: Do not approach the pack and give them plenty of space. Don’t stare at any of the coyotes or act threatening toward them. Most coyotes prefer to avoid human contact, so follow the above instructions about noise. Once they become aware of a humans, coyotes will usually avoid them.